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Cross Cultural Management Guide - Denmark


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 Denmark:

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


Gain an Expert Understanding:

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

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


Being a Manager in Denmark

Effective cross cultural management will bear in mind that the Danes like to treat all people with equal respect and deference. You should consider the following when working in Denmark:

  • Avoid managing autocratically as this will not go down well in Denmark and you will lose the respect of your team members.
  • If you are going to Denmark to meet with your Danish counterparts then arrive punctually for meetings and be prepared to make productive use of the available time. Avoid too much small talk.
  • Danes like to get down to the business at hand as swiftly and efficiently as possible.
  • They generally say what they think and expect others to do the same.


The Role of a Manager

Cross cultural management needs to recognize that Danes value the specialized knowledge that employees at all levels bring. In Denmark, as in most egalitarian cultures, you may find that:

  • Positions of authority are earned largely on the basis of individual achievement and people, at all levels of the organization, while respecting authority, are free to aspire to those positions.
  • The role of the leader is to harness the talent of the group assembled, and develop any resulting synergies. This is done by giving individuals a voice and facilitating discussions. 
  • The leader will be deferred to as the final authority in any decisions that are made, but they do not dominate the discussion or generation of ideas.
  • Praise should be given to the entire group as well as to individuals.


Approach to Change

Denmark’s intercultural adaptability and readiness for change is developing all the time but they are generally regarded as having a medium tolerance for change and risk. You mind find therefore, that:

  • It is important for innovations to have a track record or history noting the benefits if they are to be accepted and implemented.
  • The fear of exposure, and the potential of embarrassment that may accompany failure, brings about aversion to risk. Because of this attitude, intercultural sensitivity is going to be required, especially when conducting group meetings and discussing contributions made my participating individuals.


Approach to Time and Priorities

Denmark is a controlled-time culture, and adherence to schedules is important and expected. Time is considered something to be valued and to use wisely.  When in Denmark, you may find that:

  • Missing a deadline is a sign of poor management and inefficiency, and will shake people’s confidence.
  • People in controlled-time cultures tend to have their time highly scheduled, and it’s generally a good idea to provide and adhere to performance milestones.
  • Effective cross-culture management skill will depend on the individual’s ability to meet deadlines.
  • Danes tend to value the work life balance and will manage their working day productively to ensure that they are able to leave the office on time and make the most of their family time. 
  • Employees who consistently work outside standard office hours are likely to be viewed as poor time managers. 


Decision Making

Companies are relatively flat with few hierarchical layers. The business culture generally means that:

  • Managers do not flaunt their positions and prefer to be seen as members of the team. Although not as group focused as some other cultures, employees often subjugate their desires for the good of the group.
  • Managers generally act as coordinators or team leaders rather than autocratic micro-managers. They are task-oriented and emphasize achieving a goal, productivity and profits. They expect their employees to do their job in a professional manner. Danes are often quite comfortable working in teams and do not expect to be singled out for their contribution.
  • Cross cultural management needs to understand the Danes fundamental belief in an egalitarian society. This means they support a participative management style.
  • Most employees are members of a union. The pay scales for the same job are relatively equal across companies, so employees seldom move companies in an attempt to secure more pay or perquisites.


Boss or Team Player?

The role of the leader is to harness the talent of the group assembled, and develop any resulting synergiesThe culture means that:

  • The leader will be deferred to as the final authority in any decisions that are made, but they do not dominate the discussion or generation of ideas.
  • Praise should be given to the entire group as well as to individuals.


Communication and Negotiation Styles

In line with a time focused culture, the Danes tend to say what they think and get to the point, albeit in a tactful way. You should:

  • Avoid "hard sell" techniques and use direct communication without hyperbole or superlatives
  • Cross cultural communication should be relatively straight forward when dealing with the Danes.
  • They like to get down to business quickly and are direct and frank communicators.
  • They are detail-oriented and negotiations are normally carried out in a reserved and polite manner. Decisions are normally made after consulting with everyone involved.
  • When negotiating with the Danes, ensure that your materials are clear and referenced with data and facts where appropriate. Accurate and robust detail is valued in Denmark and should not be underestimated. 

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