Getting back to face-to-face meetings
As we get back to the ‘new normal’, conducting face to face meetings are going to make a slow return to pre-pandemic levels. Covid-safe measures are likely to remain in place however, with readjustments to how meetings are conducted needed as restrictions ease.
While this period of time has shown just how much can be achieved remotely, face-to-face meetings are undoubtedly useful in many instances, with greater rapport likelier to be established in person, as well as the ability to read non-verbal cues and arguably achieve a more fluid and natural conversation.
As and when your business returns to in-person meetings make sure there is a strategy in place to govern how they are conducted, ensuring end-user clients and prospective interim managers feel both comfortable and safe.
5 benefits of face-to-face meetings
While successful meeting techniques are possible virtually, some of the facets that physical meetings bring are naturally reduced or even lost entirely.
- Captures non-verbal communication cues
Information gathered from transactional conversations comes as much from non-verbal communication as it does verbal. Although some non-verbal cues can be picked up via screens most of this is lost, in particular body language. A lot can be portrayed in non-verbal cues, such as emotions and authenticity.
- Establishes greater rapport
Meetings conducted online are less likely to include peripheral conversation (or ‘small talk’) that are a feature of face-to-face meetings. These small asides are often useful for breaking the ice and can mean a deeper connection is made between parties, thus allowing more personality to come through. Meeting someone in person is also more natural; meeting over screens can make the transaction feel stilted, which can dampen the chances of rapport being built.
- Off-script, responsive conversation
The slightly unnatural setting of an online meeting, eradicating or reducing the above, means it can be harder to go ‘off script’ – the ability to respond to or delve deeper into tangent discussions. There is a greater fluidity of conversation in person that can mean a lot more is revealed.
- Introduces interims to the working environment
As much as face-to-face meetings offer the interviewer a better chance to see the ‘real’ person, it likewise offers prospective interims the opportunity to see the business, getting a glimpse of the feel and culture of it, not to mention a trial commute.
- Maintains a formal atmosphere
Meeting for a meeting in person, in an office, naturally heralds a certain formality which can be lost online, particularly if the interim is conducting the meeting from home. This may encourage a slightly more informal response which runs the risk of putting interims on the back foot.
Depending on the person the opposite may also be true – they may be less comfortable meeting virtually, with nerves preventing them from acting and answering naturally, and/or discomfort at showing their home environment or awareness of home distractions that may detract from their meeting performance.
In-person meeting preparation checklist
Meeting in person during and post pandemic means a greater level of complexity to the process for both clients and interim managers alike, risking uncertainty over the correct etiquette or even safety. Although many organisations have found virtual consulting successful, others are less comfortable with engaging interims entirely remotely, preferring the reassurance of a face to face final meeting.
As restrictions ease and with many keen to return to some face-to-face meetings, continued safety precautions must be met, at the responsibility of the end-user business.
It’s important that the end-user business is sensitive to those who either have greater vulnerabilities such as being immunocompromised, or that there are some simply uncomfortable with face-to-face meetings at this stage. Allowances should be granted for those who prefer not to meet in person, without discriminating against them.
For all others it is important to make them feel comfortable, as well as ensuring both interims and end-user business feel safe. Plans should be put in to place before face-to-face meetings resume, and interims should receive information on how to prepare and what to expect (in addition to information normally given pre-meeting).
- Allocate a place where prospective interims should wait on arrival
- Ensure masks are worn in communal areas, both prospective interims and permanent staff
- Provide hand sanitisation and advise prospective interims where and how to use
- Advise prospective interims to bring their own pen and any refreshments
- Ensure a system for movement between arrival, to the meeting room and then departure is decided upon and communicated to prospective interims
- Choose a meeting room on the ground floor and with (open) windows, if possible
- Ensure 2m distancing is possible in the meeting room, where masks can be removed (allow prospective interims to remain masked if that’s their preference)
- Ensure sufficient time gaps between meetings in case they run over
Oakwood Resources can help to accelerate your business requirements by sourcing interim managers who are assessed based on their skills and experience and who can work alongside you to deliver successful outcomes for your business operational needs.