With a rise in the exchange of ideas and culture throughout the world, globalisation is more apparent, and the business world is becoming a smaller place.
By comparing the culture and business styles in Russia, China and the UK, we can see the fundamental differences in how they affect employees and their attitude to management at work and how society has shaped this.
1. Cultural Differences
We are defined by the culture we grew up in. The beliefs, experiences, stories, and values we absorb, form the way we see the world.
What is true for one society can differ considerably for another, and that’s what makes the world so diverse, vibrant and sometimes challenging.
Patriotism, connections to agriculture and building a sense of community are central to Russian values. The word Dusha encapsulates the feeling of belonging to the Russian culture and way of life. Food is an integral part of the Russian family with life being viewed through philosophical and spiritual terms. Russians are proud of their culture and business achievements and value a strong and confident demeanour.
A harmonious society is at the heart of Chinese culture. A combination of philosophical and ethical teachings (Confucianism) have been established in China for centuries. These include – being polite and courteous, humbleness and modesty, respect for elders and those in senior positions.
The British are known for their politeness and ironic humour as a nation and the diversity of people, food and culture. They pride themselves on a culture built on freedom, equality, and tolerance. The British are known too for their love of sport and a sense of fair play in competition and business relationships.
2. Naming Conventions
One fundamental difference in the business culture of each country is in how employees address their management.
In Russia, there are strict rules around employees using the correct titles to acknowledge management.
· The first name and surname are most used these days and less frequently the first name and middle (patronymic name).
· In formal situations e.g. government organisations, all three names would be used when speaking about a superior. When speaking directly to a manager the first and middle name are used to show the difference in hierarchy and as a sign of respect.
In China, although titles and names are less rigid, there is a strict hierarchical culture which means employees don’t express themselves openly and are unable to criticise their managers. Addressing your manager by their professional title and last name conveys respect.
Although there is still a hierarchy in most companies in the UK, employees usually address their managers by their first name and managers address employees in the same way.
3. Management Styles
Overall, the management style in Russia is autocratic and direct. Firmness and dignity are valued and it’s unlikely that employees would openly challenge or disagree with a manager.
In Chinese business culture, there tends to be a defined gap between management and lower-level employees. To be a good leader is to be a person of inspiration and the use of Confucianism values means building happy and inclusive work environments for employees.
In the UK there is a more individualistic culture which means company employees can criticise and question management more freely. Having a good relationship with employees and leading a team effectively are important management skills.
As the business world evolves and younger generations lean towards a more relaxed way of working the question is, are formalities at work required?
Some people believe that holding onto formal titles and conventions puts a barrier between employees and management. This can mean management are less approachable and employees can’t or won’t voice their ideas freely, possibly affecting companies negatively leading to slower growth and less efficiency.
If an employee feels that they’re a genuine co-worker within the company, they may become more committed and work harder. When employees feel listened to and care about the company it succeeds.
Perhaps there is a way to merge old traditions and modern working cultures to move forward in a changing and much more connected world.