How is data gathering different in the digital world?
With face-to-face meetings such an important part of the asset/manager selection process, and for client meetings, how can managers and advisers adapt to the virtual communication requirements of the lockdown environment?
Why do some people effortlessly adapt to the new ways of communication, while others resist as much as possible?
Why are digital meetings so tiring and sometimes stilted? What is the optimal number to have online at once in any meeting?
Some people enjoy the medium so much they have regular Zoom drinks after work, but others long to get back to the office, to “water cooler moments”, “elevator pitching” and normal communication.
Preference for ways of communication is part function of personality, experience and what is being communicated.
Look at the following business activities. Rank these in order of those you would least like to do via a remote video call:
- Attend an in-house business meeting
- Interview a potential job candidate
- Negotiate with a client
- Give a presentation
- Chair a business meeting
- Shoot the breeze with some workmates
- Fire or furlough a member of staff
- Conduct a staff appraisal
- Interview a new and potentially very important client
- Give a press interview
Obviously, some of these activities require more insight, sensitivity and emotional intelligence than others.
But does performing them via video conference make them more difficult? And if so, why? More importantly, what can you do about it?
Can you question analysts or clients as successfully online as face-to-face? Can you detect “evasive answers” and “being economical with the truth” as easily or much less so?
What have we learnt so far? Note how physical distance can make some people more confident and ready to challenge, possibly because they do not feel physically threatened.
Some even feel it easier to break bad news because it is a cooler medium. We all know that in the selection situation the successful candidate is phoned with the feedback while the rejected receive a well crafted, legally scrutinised rejection letter.
Another feature of digital communication is the ability to peer into people’s private space: their home office; kitchen or living room.
For many it is how you dress at work that is all you need worry about. Now it is what your decorations, choices in art/bric-a-brac, and furniture say about you.
Note the popularity of books, and the use of “virtual background” to portray a mood or your values. Investment professionals seem to care less about books, which they believe is a stuffy image of a forgotten medium.
Some prefer the skyline backdrop of New York or the City; others show off their spacious and tasteful home office; some even use photographs of their actual office which everyone is required to use.
But negotiation can be very tricky, paradoxically particularly among the highly skillful because of the way they rely on silences, pauses and non-verbal tricks that are not available on digital media,