Intercultural Management - Algeria
Being a Manager in Algeria
The business set up in Algeria is conservative and hierarchical and to ensure successful cross cultural management it is important to remember that strictly defined roles exist. Always err on the side of conservative behaviour through your dress code and general conduct and show and expect to be shown the appropriate deference to position, age and rank.
Intercultural adaptability relies on an understanding of this hierarchical system. This belief means that people believe their supervisors have been chosen because of their greater experience. It’s seen as inappropriate to question any supervisor’s decisions and managers should not consult lower-ranking individuals in the decision-making process.
Managers in Algeria are often paternalistic and relationships with their employees usually overlap into personal areas.
The Role of a Manager
Cross cultural communication will be more effective when you are working in Algeria, if you remember that honour and reputation play an important role. When holding meetings, it is important to ensure that any ideas raised do not expose or embarrass the individual. Managers should avoid praising individuals as all projects are to be undertaken collectively.
The paternalism between manager and employee means that the role of managers often extends beyond the working life.
Approach to Change
Algeria’s intercultural competence and readiness for change is low. Its conservatism means that change can often be seen as a threat to society. Managers are therefore likely to be averse to change and it is essential that any changes are viewed as positive for the ‘whole’ and not just an individual.
Of course, change does happen, but effective management in Algeria needs to take into account that any change is going to take longer to implement and will be driven by a group effort. Each step will have been thoroughly reviewed, analysed and agreed upon by the group as a whole.
Approach to Time and Priorities
Deadlines and timescales are fluid. Patience is the key to successful intercultural management when working in Algeria. Essentially a relationship-driven culture, it should be understood that taking the time to get to know someone will always take precedence over any timelines. Don’t rush the relationship building process or you may jeopardise any future business dealings.
When working with people from Algeria, it’s advisable to reinforce the importance of the agreed-upon deadlines and how that may affect the rest of the organization. However, it isn’t unusual for a manager in Algeria to avoid confrontation over a deadline in order to maintain a positive relationship within the team.
Global and intercultural expansion means that some managers may have a greater appreciation of the need to enforce timescales and as such, agreed deadlines are more likely to be met.
As all companies are hierarchical, the highest ranking person makes decisions, after obtaining group consensus of the major stakeholders.
Since managers are perceived to have been placed in that position by their own superior knowledge and expertise, it would be inappropriate to liaise with their subordinates when making any business decisions.
Boss or Team Player?
Due to the hierarchical set up in Algeria, it is important that the manager maintains his / her role as ‘boss’ and engenders the necessary respect from within the team.
When the manager needs to work collectively with his / her team however, then it is important that the need to work collectively is stated and that the team is encouraged to operate openly in a non-threatening environment.
If an individual makes any contributions which are seen as not useful or necessary, the manager needs to deal with this sensitively. It is essential that the individual does not feel shamed in front of his/her colleagues and that the rest of the group feel able to continue participating and offering their contributions.
Communication and Negotiation Styles
Intercultural sensitivity is essential; introductions are imperative in this relationship-driven culture and businesswomen need to be introduced by an older, high-ranking male so that his gender and status smooth the way.
While Algerians are non-confrontational they can also be forceful negotiators and can often expect concessions on price and terms. It’s a good idea to include a wide margin in your initial offer and to expect a certain amount of haggling.
Decisions are made slowly and you should not rush this or use high-pressure tactics as this would be viewed as an insult.