Intercultural Management - Bahamas
Being a Manager in the Bahamas
The business set-up in the Bahamas is generally straightforward. Many business practices mirror the UK or the USA. To ensure successful cross cultural management it is worth remembering that although status is important, it is a good idea to treat everyone with respect and dignity.
When managing in the Bahamas, it is important to keep in mind that each person has a very distinct role within the organization. People believe that their supervisors have been chosen because they have more experience and it is, therefore, unnecessary, and even inappropriate for them to consult with lower-ranking individuals when decision-making.
Role of a Manager
Successful intercultural management will be more easily established remembering that employees expect their manager or supervisor to provide clear instructions as well as the necessary tools to complete the task and they expect the manager to be approachable so that they may go to him with a question or if a problem arises.
Managers will praise employees, although not generally in public. Subordinates expect their efforts to be recognized and rewarded. At the same time, Bahamians are suspicious if praise is excessive or undeserved.
Approach to Change
The Bahamas intercultural competence and readiness for change is high. Businesses in the Bahamas have a high tolerance for risk and a ready acceptance for change. The underlying mindset is that change, while difficult, usually brings improvements and that hard work and innovation will bring a better tomorrow.
Approach to Time and Priorities
The Bahamas is a moderate time culture and therefore there may be some flexibility to strict adherence to schedules and deadlines. Nevertheless, the expectations of intercultural expansion and global business have caused the Bahamians to adopt relatively strict standards of adhering to schedules.
When working with people from the Bahamas, it’s advisable to reinforce the importance of the agreed-upon deadlines and how that may affect the rest of the organization.
Although many businesses retain hierarchical structures, decisions are often made after reaching a consensus of the stakeholders. Few individuals have full authority to make binding decisions concerning anything but mundane matters.
Most decisions are consensus driven, and will therefore take time for a final decision to be reached.
Boss or Team Player?
If you are working with people from the Bahamas, 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.
Successful cross cultural management will recognize that teamwork is becoming increasingly important in most organizations.
Communication and Negotiation Styles
Successful cross cultural communication will avoid "hard sell" techniques. Do not take Bahamians’ relaxed attitude as indicative of a lack of attention to detail. Communicate directly without using hyperbole or superlatives and expect some small talk before getting down to business.
While it is common for business people to want to get to know you before doing business, younger business people are likely to start business discussions with a bare minimum of formalities. English is the language of business.
Hierarchy is important, although not always apparent, and successful intercultural communication will be down to the individual’s ability to remain sensitive to clues that indicate status.
Business people are generally direct and say what they mean, although they will not be confrontational and remember that bargaining is not customary.