Cross Cultural Management Guide - Cyprus


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 Cyprus:

  • Hierarchy
  • Leadership style
  • Decision making 
  • Relationship building 
  • Relationships within a small island 
  • Time and scheduling 
  • Communication style and; 
  • Negotiation style 


Gain an Expert Understanding:

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

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



Being a Manager in Cyprus

When working in Cyprus, cross cultural management will be more effective if you bear in mind the importance that status plays:

  • Status is largely determined by social class and family background and you should always treat those in authority with respect and deference.
  • It is polite to wait until invited before moving to a first-name basis and expect this to take several meetings.
  • Never refuse an offer of food or drink as Cypriots pride themselves on their hospitality and it forms an important part of relationship building. 
  • Be prepared to invest time in letting your business colleagues get to know you.
  • Business people under the age of 35 are often less formal than their older counterparts.


The Role of a Manager

Although Cypriots are renowned for their high work ethic, this has been further increased by the difficult economic climate being faced by the country and it's likely that you will find the people you work with to be very hard working.  When working in Cyprus, cross cultural management will be more successful if you bear in mind that each person has a very distinct role within the organization, and maintaining that role helps to keep order. What might this mean for you in the business setting?:

  • People believe that their managers have been chosen because they have more experience and greater knowledge than those they manage, and it is, therefore, unnecessary, and even inappropriate for them to consult with lower-ranking individuals when decision-making.
  • Managers can be fairly directive within the work place.  Employees tend to be willing to take direction and to deliver on the requests of their managers. 
  • In Cyprus, as in other hierarchical societies, managers may take a somewhat paternalistic attitude toward their employees. They may demonstrate a concern for employees that goes beyond the workplace and strictly professional concerns. This may include involvement in their family, housing, health, and other practical life issues.


Approach to Change

Cyprus’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 Cyprus’s attitude toward risk dramatically impacted by the negative ramifications of failure on both the individual and the group.


Approach to Time and Priorities

  • Cyprus is a moderate time culture and there may be some flexibility to strict adherence to schedules and deadlines.
  • Cyprus is heavily relationship based which means that people will often put the needs of their colleagues above delivery of deadlines. If, for example, their colleague has not delivered on a timescale, then it's unlikely their peers will challenge this or insist upon delivery. 
  • When working with people from Cyprus, 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.


Decision Making

  • Cypriot business is hierarchical and managers are more autocratic than in many other countries. There are remnants of social class distinctions in the business arena. Managers do not seek a consensus before making decisions, as they believe it would make them appear weak.
  • The hierarchical set up also means that decisions are typically taken by senior bodies and then passed down for implementation. 
  • They tell subordinates what they want done and how they expect them to perform the task. At the same time, managers are paternalistic, and will assist their subordinates if they have personal problems. Employees follow a manager’s instructions without comment, as it would be rude to challenge someone of a higher status.


Boss or Team Player?

If you are working in Cyprus, cross cultural sensitivity is important and you must bear in mind that honour and reputation play an important role. You might find that: 

  • If you would like to encourage participation it is important first to clearly establish a non-threatening work environment and communicate fully that participation is desired.
  • When meeting together and moderating ideas, 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 embarrassed, they may likely not participate again, and it will stem the flow of ideas and the participation of the entire group.


Communication and Negotiation Styles

Cypriots tend to be fairly direct communicators, which means that they say what they think.  It doesn't mean, however, that they do this without tact or diplomacy.

  • To ensure successful intercultural business dealings, it is important to understand that personal relationships are the foundation of a successful business relationship.
  • Who you know can be more important than what you know. Since Cyprus is relatively fairly small, then people tend to know each other across the island. This means that great efforts are made to retain good relationships as it's likely that people might have to work together at a future time, in a different work environment, or, they may also come across each other in a social setting. 
  • Do not raise your voice or appear upset or emotional while speaking.
  • Remember that business discussions can be lengthy and that contracts are crucial and will be followed to the letter.
  • Cypriots are skilled negotiators and you should expect a great deal of bargaining.
  • Opening bids should leave a great deal of room for negotiation and concessions on both sides.

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