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Cross Cultural Management Guide - Algeria 

What will you Learn in this Guide?

This guide will shed light on key cross cultural areas, relevant to expat managers when working in Algeria:

  • Hierarchy
  • Honour
  • Leadership style
  • Time and scheduling 
  • Communication style and; 
  • Negotiation style 

 

Gaining an Expert Understanding:

Once you've read this guide, ensure the success of your Algerian business venture by: 

  • Taking part in a two hour live webinar, customised to meet your unique needs, with one of our Algeria country and culture training experts or;
  • Contacting us in respect to our Algeria consultancy services. 

 

Being a Manager in Algeria

The business set up in Algeria is conservative and hierarchical with strictly defined roles in place. What does this mean for expat cross cultural management skills?

  • Intercultural adaptability relies on an understanding of the hierarchical system within Algeria, particularly if hierarchy is less obvious within the culture of your home country. In Algeria, employees tend to believe that their supervisors have been chosen because of their greater experience and technical expertise. As such, you are unlikely to see those reporting to you question your decisions.They will also not expect to be consulted in decision making.  However, if you need to engage your reporting team members in decision making, then ensure they are aware that there is a reason to do so and give them the reassurance that their opinions will be valued.  Be careful to frame this in such a way that your employees don't feel that you are engaging them due to technical shortfalls as this may lose their trust and confidence in you
  • As a manager, you should expect your reporting team to demonstrate deference to your position, age and rank. You, in turn, should also show appropriate deference to your seniors within the business. 
  • Since behaviour is typically very conservative within Algerian business settings, then managers are advised to you err on the side of caution.  Ensure you dress appropriately and remain aware of your behaviour and conduct. 
  • Managers in Algeria are often paternalistic and relationships with their employees may sometimes overlap into personal areas. You may find, for example, that employees discuss their home lives with their manager.  

 

The Role of a Manager

Understanding the concept of honour and reputation is essential to effective cross cultural communication within Algeria. It's important that:

  • Managers don't raise individual issues publicly as this can be considered a source of shame for the individual concerned and will cause others to perceive this apparent lack of care for another's honour negatively.
  • Managers don't challenge anyone publicly or put them on the spot in such a way that it embarrasses them and damages their reputation. 
  • When holding meetings,managers should ensure any ideas raised do not expose or embarrass anybody. Thank all individuals for their contributions - even if you don't feel that they are all relevant.  Challenging someone's ideas negatively will result in the rest of the group feeling uncomfortable about contributing. 
  • Managers should also avoid praising individuals as Algeria is a group centred culture and work based projects and activities are perceived to be a collective collaboration.
  • The paternalism between manager and employee means that the role of managers often extends beyond the working life.

 

Approach to Change

Let's now look at the way in which Algerians are more likely to approach change: 

  • When compared cross culturally, Algerians typically have a low tolerance and readiness for change.
  • Conservatism plays a role in the country's low tolerance for change as change is typically seen as something that may impact status quo, stability and order. 
  • Algerian managers and team members alike are typically change averse.  As such, it' necessary to make a strong business case for suggested change and to clearly outline why the change is necessary, what will be involved and the value this will bring to the business. It must also demonstrate the benefits that the proposed change will bring to the collective - not just to individuals. Failing to clarify the benefits will likely damage the business case. 

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

Algerian business culture typically leans towards a fluid approach to deadlines and timescales. This means that managers should:

  • Be patient, as this virtue is essential to successful intercultural management when working in Algeria.
  • Remember that Algeria is essentially a relationship-driven culture, which means that relationships may well take precedence over any timelines. Don’t rush the relationship building process or you may jeopardise any future business dealings.
  • Understand that it is not unusual for a manager in Algeria to avoid confrontation over a deadline in order to maintain a positive relationship within the team.
  • Appreciate that 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. However, where this is not the case and where a deadline is important, then reinforce the reason why it's important and the impact delivery will have on broader projects.

 

Decision Making

As the culture of Algerian companies is principally hierarchical, then it's typically the case that 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. What does this mean for managers working cross culturally?:

  • When the manager needs to work collectively with his / her team however, then ensure that the 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

Let's now look at the way in which communication style may affect Algerian business culture:

  •  In this relationship-driven culture, it's recommended that a female business woman is introduced by an older, high-ranking male so that his gender and status smooth the way.
  • Honour is important in Algerian business culture which means that a focus on harmony and non confrontational exchanges are essential
  • 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.
  • If participating in a negotiation process with your Algerian counterparts then be aware that decisions are made slowly and you should not rush this or use high-pressure tactics as this would be viewed as an insult. 

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