Intercultural Management - Lithuania
Being a Manager in Lithuania
Business in Lithuania is undergoing a transition as the country adopts a free market system. To ensure successful cross cultural management, it is best to err on the side of formality and adhere to conservative etiquette and protocol. There are marked differences between young entrepreneurs and older businesspeople. Younger business people generally have a less bureaucratic approach.
There are an abundance of institutions that regulate business practices in Lithuania. To successfully conduct business you will have to navigate a myriad of rules and regulations.
The Role of a Manager
Successful intercultural management is more likely to be achieved with some knowledge and understanding of Lithuania’s history. Management in countries of the former Soviet Union is a complex, constantly evolving state-of-affairs, each country moving towards a market economy (with its’ accompanying protocols) at a different pace.
The transition to a free-market economy has brought about remarkable, but not wholesale changes in the business culture. Generally, among the older generation, you will find deference to authority, coupled with a sense of loyalty and a detached attitude for meeting objectives and goals of the company. Among younger workers, however, you’ll find an eagerness to explore the new opportunities that the market has to offer.
Approach to Change
Lithuania’s intercultural adaptability and readiness for change is developing all the time. This country is seen to have a medium tolerance for change and risk.
The fear of exposure and the potential of embarrassment that may accompany failure means cross cultural sensitivity is going to be required. Failure can be viewed as a personal short-coming and can cause a long-term loss of confidence by the individual as well as by the group.
Approach to Time and Priorities
Lithuania is a moderate time culture and typically there may be some flexibility to strict adherence to schedules and deadlines.
When working with people from Lithuania, in order to achieve successful cross cultural management, it is advisable to reinforce the importance of the agreed-upon. 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.
In businesses that retain a strong hierarchical structure, managers tend to be autocratic. They expect their subordinates to follow standard procedures without question. In such companies, getting things accomplished is often a matter of knowing the right people who can then help circumvent the bureaucracy. In more entrepreneurial companies, individual initiative is prized and managers expect subordinates to work out the best course of action according to the current situation.
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 intercultural sensitivity will be needed and it should be understood that they will need to be coached in the process.
Communication and Negotiation Styles
There is a drive to avoid criticism, which can lead Lithuanians to avoid taking responsibility or making decisions. Most decisions require several layers of approval. Committees often reach decisions in an attempt to distribute both the responsibility and the blame. Lithuanians often use time delays as a tactic to pressure the other party during negotiations, especially if they know that you have a deadline. Be cautious about letting your business colleagues know that you are under time pressure or they will delay even more. Perhaps as a holdover from the Communist regime, older Lithuanians have a tendency to tell foreign business people what they think they want to hear so some cross cultural adaptability is necessary. Lithuanians will not be rushed into making a deal. They must think it is in their best interest before agreeing. Lithuanians prefer detailed contracts.