Intercultural Management - Bermuda
Being a Manager in Bermuda
The business set up in Bermuda is hierarchical. Cross cultural management needs to take into account that despite the casual, almost laid-back atmosphere, Bermuda is a British colony, the largest in fact, and the business community adheres to many British protocols.
Cross cultural management, when working in Bermuda, will be more successful when bearing in mind that each person has a very distinct role within the organization and management would not be expected to consult with lower-ranking individuals when decision-making.
Role of a Manager
In Bermuda, as in other hierarchical societies, managers may take a somewhat paternalistic attitude to their employees. They may demonstrate a concern for employees that goes beyond the workplace and strictly professional concerns.
Approach to Change
Bermuda’s intercultural tolerance and readiness for change is medium. Changes are made, albeit slowly, and require considerable amount of thought, planning and evaluation.
Cross cultural sensitivity is essential. The fear of exposure, and the potential of embarrassment that may accompany failure, brings about aversion to risk and the need to thoroughly examine the potential negative implications. Failure in Bermuda causes a long-term loss of confidence by the individual as well as by the group.
Approach to Time and Priorities
Bermuda is a fluid time culture, and as is the case with many fluid time cultures, it is also very relationship-oriented. People in Bermuda will not want to upset others in order to force adherence to a deadline, and while appointments and schedules need to be set well in advance as a sign of respect for the individual, you need to understand that those schedules are seen as flexible, not necessarily needing to be adhered to.
When working with people from Bermuda, it’s advisable to reinforce the importance of the agreed-upon deadlines and how that may affect the rest of the organization.
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.
Although many businesses retain hierarchical structures, decisions are often made after reaching a consensus among the stakeholders. Few individuals have full authority to make binding decisions concerning anything but mundane matters. Teamwork is becoming increasingly important in most organizations. The best ideas and solutions often come from having many people meet to discuss an issue.
Bermudan managers will praise employees, although not generally in public. Subordinates expect their efforts to be recognized and rewarded. Most Bermudans are suspicious if praise is excessive or undeserved.
Boss or Team Player?
If you are working with people from Bermuda, it is important to remember the role that hierarchy plays in teamwork and collaboration. Traditionally, the supervisor is seen to hold that position because of superior knowledge and skills. It would traditionally have been unthinkable for someone of a higher position to collaborate with, or ask ideas of one of a lower status.
This is changing somewhat in younger generations, particularly those employed by multinational corporations. If you would like to encourage participation it is important first to clearly establish a non-threatening work environment and communicate clearly that their participation is desired.
When meeting together and moderating ideas, intercultural sensitivity is important. It is important to qualify ideas that are raised in a gentle manner, protecting the reputation of those bringing up ideas, so no one is shamed. If someone is exposed and shamed, they may likely not participate again, and it will likely stem the flow of ideas and the participation of the entire group.
Praise should be given to the entire group as well, and not to individuals.
Communication and Negotiation Styles
Although business law is based on the British model, business arrangements with small firms require a high level of personal interaction and trust.
Successful cross cultural communication is key to ensure smooth dealings and as most Bermudans only speak English if you are not fluent, it would be wise to arrange ahead of time for an interpreter. Avoid high-pressure sales tactics.
Bermudans are quite direct, appreciate brevity and are not impressed by excessive detail.