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Cross Cultural Management Guide for Ghana

The information below is for managers who want to learn more about the management style and business culture of Ghana.

It provides some useful information for managers who are relocating to the country for employment as well as those who may have Ghanaian employees in their global or multicultural teams.

  • Hierarchy
  • Leadership style
  • Time
  • Communication style
  • Negotiation

Being a Manager in Ghana

The business culture in Ghana is hierarchical and management success is more likely if you remember to be formal and courteous at all times:

  • Older people and those in senior positions should be deferred to and treated with utmost respect.
  • Ghanaians prefer to deal with those they know; therefore, they spend a great deal of time getting to know their business associates.
  • Do not rush this process.
  • The Ghanaian business style is to avoid "hard sell" techniques and maintain a courteous demeanour at all times.

The Role of a Manager

Foreign managers need to bear in mind that each person has a very distinct role within the organization, and maintaining that role helps to keep order.

  • People believe that their supervisors 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.
  • In Ghana, 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

Ghana’s cultural readiness for change is developing all the time. Ghana is seen to have a medium tolerance for change and risk. 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, bring about aversion to risk and the need to thoroughly examine the potential negative implications.
  • While in risk-tolerant environments, failure is perceived as a learning process that encourages confidence in future ventures, failure in Ghana causes a long-term loss of confidence by the individual as well as by others.
  • Because of this attitude, cultural sensitivity is going to be required, especially when conducting group meetings and discussing contributions made by participating individuals.

Approach to Time

Ghana is a moderate time culture and typically and there may be some flexibility to strict adherence to schedules and deadlines. Nevertheless, the expectations of global working have caused Ghanaians to adopt relatively strict standards of adhering to schedules.

  • When working with people from Ghana, it’s advisable to reinforce the importance of the agreed-upon deadlines and how that may affect the rest of the organization.

Decision Making

Business is relatively hierarchical. Managers do not seek a consensus before making decisions. In fact, decisions are often made at the top of the company. Managers tell subordinates what they want done and how they expect them to perform the task.

  • When providing criticism, even under the guise of helpfulness, understand that employees are not comfortable with the concept of constructive criticism.

Boss or Team Player?

People from Ghana like working in teams and collaborate quite well across hierarchical lines.

  • The communication within a team is generally quite collegial, albeit somewhat direct and blunt.
  • Role allocation within the team is generally quite clearly defined and people will take greater responsibility for their specific task than for the group as a whole.
  • Successful cross-cultural management will depend on the individual’s ability to harness the talent of the group assembled and develop any resulting synergies.
  • 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.

Communication and Negotiation Styles

Companies are hierarchical and, as such, ultimate decision-making often rests with the person at the top.

  • Decisions are reached slowly.
  • If you try to rush things, you will give offence and risk your business relationship.
  • Getting decisions from government officials can be even more protracted.
  • Ghanaians have a difficult time disagreeing, so do not assume that things are going well simply because no one is challenging what you say.
  • Avoid showing anger. Controlling your temper is imperative in this culture.
  • Ghanaians often request last-minute concessions at the close of negotiations.

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