Cross Cultural Management Guide - Bermuda 


What will you Learn in this Guide?

In this guide, expatriate managers will gain an understanding of a number of key cross cultural areas when working in Bermuda:

  • The importance of hierarchy
  • Management style 
  • Approaches to time  
  • Communicating and negotiating 


Gain an Expert Understanding:

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

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



Being a Manager in Bermuda

The business set up in Bermuda is hierarchical. Cross cultural managers 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 managers, 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.
  •  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.
  • 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.


Approach to Change

Bermuda’s intercultural tolerance and readiness for change is medium, which means that changes are made fairly slowly and require a considerable amount of thought, planning and evaluation. Other considerations include:

  • Cross cultural sensitivity is essential to appreciating that 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 is liable to cause 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-orientedThe impact of valuing relationships over deadlines is that:

  • People in Bermuda generally will not want to risk causing any upset to others in order to force adherence to a deadline. As such (and depending on context), if the deadline has not been met, then it's unlikely that this will be turned into an issue.
  • 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 developed a greater appreciation of the need to enforce timescales through exposure to other working practices. As such, agreed deadlines are more likely to be met.


Decision Making

Although many businesses retain hierarchical structures, decisions are often made after reaching a consensus among the stakeholders. As such:

  • 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 are now more likely to have come from people meeting to discuss an issue.


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. However, this is now starting to change 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.

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