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Cross Cultural Management Guide for Luxembourg

The insights offered below are for managers who want to learn more about the management style and business culture of Luxembourg.

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

Topics include:

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

Being a Manager in Luxembourg

Overall, the approach to management in Luxembourg is characterized by a strong emphasis on collaboration, professionalism, and efficiency, with a focus on building strong relationships and working effectively in a multilingual, multicultural environment.

  • The business set-up in Luxembourg is hierarchical.
  • They adhere to established rules of protocol for most situations and expect others to do the same.
  • They respect corporate hierarchy and those who have attained a senior-level position.
  • Since they are a private people, they do not readily mix their private and business lives.
  • Luxembourg is a hub for international business, and many companies have a global outlook.
  • This means that managers in Luxembourg need to be able to navigate different cultural and business practices and to work effectively with colleagues and clients from around the world.

The Role of a Manager

Cross cultural management is more effective when working in Luxembourg when you understand the Luxembourgers generally like working in teams and collaborate quite well across hierarchical lines.

  • The communication within a team is generally quite collegial, albeit somewhat direct.
  • 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.
  • Building a relationship requires demonstrating a sincere interest in the country and the people.
  • This is a hierarchical culture, so it is crucial that you show proper respect and deference to those who have attained positions of importance.
  • Luxembourgers are careful and prudent.
  • They take time before they trust people and approach getting to know you in a deliberate, measured manner, which cannot be rushed.
  • If you appear impatient, they will not do business with you.
  • Since Luxembourgers judge people on appearances, it is a good idea to take care and dress well in both business and social situations.

Approach to Change

Luxembourg is a country with a strong appetite for change, driven by its dynamic and diverse population. As a small, open economy, Luxembourg has always been quick to adapt to new challenges and opportunities, and this is reflected in its cultural attitudes towards change.

  • While there is a strong appreciation for tradition and stability, there is also a recognition that change is necessary for progress and growth.
  • As a result, there is a culture of innovation and experimentation in Luxembourg, particularly in areas such as technology, finance, and sustainability, and a willingness to embrace new ideas and approaches to problem-solving.
  • Changes are made, albeit slowly, and require a considerable amount of thought, planning and evaluation.

Approach to Time and Priorities

Luxembourg is a controlled-time culture, and adherence to schedules is important and expected. In Luxembourg, missing a deadline is a sign of poor management and inefficiency, and will shake people’s confidence. Successful intercultural management will depend on the individual’s ability to meet deadlines.

  • Even though Luxembourgers respect schedules and deadlines, it would be wise not to expect people to work late and or give up weekends in order to meet target deadlines.
  • Luxembourg has a strong tradition of work-life balance, with a relatively short working week and generous vacation time.
  • This means that managers need to be sensitive to the needs of their employees and to prioritize their well-being.

Decision Making

In general, Luxembourgers are risk-averse. Managers expect their subordinates to have analyzed all available data, followed the proper protocol, and completed the required paperwork before submitting a recommendation for review and approval. Subordinates are expected to meet with others at their level and ensure that the proposal is acceptable to all parties concerned.

  • The old autocratic system of management is being replaced with a more participatory style in many companies.
  • In such cases, teams are often entrusted with the responsibility to make decisions.
  • People with private offices generally work with the door closed. It is imperative that you knock on the door and wait to be invited in before entering.

Boss or Team Player?

Cultural adaptability will be easier when bearing in mind Luxembourgers like working in teams and collaborating 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.
  • The successful manager will 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.
  • Praise should be given to the entire group as well as to individuals.

Communication and Negotiation Styles

Newcomers to the country should take into account the high regard Luxembourgers place on manners.

  • Regardless of how you are introduced, you must always be polite and well-mannered.
  • Do not sit until being invited and told where to sit.
  • There is often a protocol to be followed.
  • Maintain direct eye contact while speaking.
  • Luxembourgers get down to business quickly and communication is direct and to the point, while still remaining polite and courteous.
  • Decisions are reached slowly are tend to be made in private.
  • Luxembourgers compartmentalize their business and personal lives.
  • Luxembourg is a multilingual country, with three official languages (Luxembourgish, French, and German) and a large number of people who speak English.
  • This means that effective communication is a key component of management in Luxembourg, and managers need to be able to communicate effectively in different languages.

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