Intercultural Management - Croatia
Being a Manager in Croatia
The business set up in Croatia is very formal and cross cultural management will be more successful if you bear in mind the importance of being courteous at all times. Although gregarious by nature, many Croatian businesspeople are somewhat reserved and formal in business.
In many ways Croatia remains a country in transition. The government is keen to forge ties with the West while former state-run industries are prone to mind-numbing bureaucracy. The government has created a liberal framework for foreign investment so that investors are granted special rights and incentives for investing in the country.
Cross cultural communication will be more effective when bearing in mind that athough most businesspeople understand the need to adopt Western efficiency into their operations, not all are comfortable with international business practices. In general, people under the age of 35 may be more open to different ideas than older businesspeople who worked during the Communist regime. Therefore, it is imperative that you treat each person as an individual and be prepared to modify your style to match the profile of the person with whom you are dealing.
The Role of a Manager
Cross cultural sensitivity is necessary. It is a good idea not to chastise employees publicly. Croatians are often very career-focused and will work exceedingly hard to achieve their goals. If you need to correct behavior, find something to compliment first and then gently mention the behavior you wish the subordinate to change.
Approach to Change
Croatia’s intercultural adaptability and readiness for change is improving although changes are still made slowly, requiring a considerable amount of thought, planning and evaluation.
Cross cultural sensitivity is important with Croatia’s attitude toward risk dramatically impacted by the negative ramifications of failure on both the individual and the group.
Approach to Time and Priorities
Croatia is a moderate time culture and there may be some flexibility to strict adherence to schedules and deadlines. Nevertheless, the expectations of global business have caused the people from Croatia to adopt relatively strict standards of adhering to schedules.
When working with people from Croatia, it’s advisable to reinforce the importance of the agreed-upon deadlines and how that may affect the rest of the organization.
Successful cross cultural management will depend on the individual’s ability to provide and meet deadlines.
Since this is a hierarchical culture, decisions are often made at the top of the company. Even though managers may not be involved in making decisions, they may give the impression of having been consulted when relaying information to their subordinates.
In general, the standards of education and technical competence are relatively high. Perhaps as a holdover from the communist era, older employees may prefer not to admit to a mistake. If an error is brought to their attention, they often blame it on outside influences.
Boss or Team Player?
In post communist countries, there is a tradition of teamwork inherited from the communal aspects of the previous era where groups and work units commonly met together to discuss ideas and create plans. However, those plans seldom resulted in implementation or results, leading to apathy and cynicism among the workers.
Today the after-effects are still evident among much of the older generation resulting in a lack of drive and energy. However, there is vibrancy among the younger generation, who seem to be eager to tackle many of the challenges and take the opportunities presented. They will participate in teams and share ideas, but they will need to be coached in the process.
Communication and Negotiation Styles
It may take several meetings for your Croatian business colleagues to warm up and drop their veneer of reserve and formality. Take time developing personal relationships; this will facilitate your business ones. A degree of cross cultural adaptability is necessary. Remember that business is conducted slowly; there is a great deal of red tape to get through and that Croatians are not straight forward to deal with. They often say things in a roundabout fashion. Politeness prevents many Croatians from giving an irrefutable "no" and phrases such as "It is difficult" or "We will see" are often negative responses.