Cross Cultural Management Guide - The Bahamas 


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 The Bahamas:

  • Hierarchy
  • Management style
  • Employee expecations 
  • Recent changes
  • Adherence to deadlines 
  • Communication style


Gain an Expert Understanding:

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

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



Role of a Manager

The business set-up in the Bahamas is generally straightforward with many business practices mirroring the UK or the USA. To ensure successful cross cultural management, it is worth remembering the following: 

  • Although status is important, it is a good idea to treat everyone with respect and dignity.
  • When managing in the Bahamas, it is important to keep in mind that each person has a very distinct role within the organization.
  • People tend to believe that their supervisors have been chosen because they have more experience and it is, therefore, unnecessary, and even inappropriate for their managers to consult with lower-ranking individuals when decision-making.
  • Successful intercultural management will be more easily established remembering that employees expect their manager or supervisor to provide clear instructions as well as the necessary tools to complete the task and they expect the manager to be approachable so that they may go to him / her with questions or any challenges. 
  • Subordinates expect their efforts to be recognized and rewarded.
  • Although managers praise employees, this is not generally carried out in public. Praise tends to be moderate and praise is certainly not given unless it's well deserved. 


Approach to Change

The Bahamas intercultural competence and readiness for change is high. What does this mean for the workplace?

  • Businesses in the Bahamas tend to demonstrate a high tolerance for risk and a ready acceptance for change.
  • The underlying mindset is that change, while difficult, usually brings improvements and that hard work and innovation will bring a better tomorrow.


Approach to Time and Priorities

The Bahamas is a moderate time culture and therefore there may be some flexibility to strict adherence to schedules and deadlines. You may find that:

  • Intercultural and global business expansion has resulted in the Bahamians adopting stricter standards when adhering to schedules than in previous years.
  • However, when you new to the business and have no experience of the internal culture for deadlines and scheduling, then it’s advisable to reinforce the importance of the agreed-upon deadlines and outline the benefits to the bigger picture or project.You may also find it useful to check progress against timescales in the interim. 


Decision Making

Although many businesses retain hierarchical structures, decisions are often made after reaching a consensus of the stakeholders. This may mean that:

  • Few individuals have full authority to make binding decisions concerning anything but mundane matters.
  • Most decisions are consensus driven, and will therefore take time for a final decision to be reached.
  • It's important therefore that you are patient and that you build in sufficient time for the decision making process to be concluded to stakeholder satisfaction. 


Boss or Team Player?

If you are working with people from the Bahamas, it is important to remember the role that hierarchy plays in teamwork and collaboration. Traditionally: 

  • The manager is seen to hold that position because of superior knowledge and skills. Until fairly recently it would have been unlikely that someone of a higher position would collaborate with, or ask ideas of one of a lower status.  However, this is changing 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. Be careful not to put contributions down in any way as this will likely have a signficant impact on the willingness of participants.
  • Successful cross cultural managers have reported that teamwork is becoming increasingly important in most organizations.


Communication  Styles

Let's look at some tips for when communicating: 

  • Successful cross cultural communicators working in the Bahamas avoid "hard sell" techniques.
  • You should not take Bahamians’ relaxed attitude as indicative of a lack of attention to detail.
  • You should communicate directly without using hyperbole or superlatives and expect some small talk before getting down to business.
  • While it is common for business people to want to get to know you before doing business, younger business people are likely to start business discussions with a bare minimum of formalities.
  • Be aware that English is the language of business.
  • Hierarchy is important, although not always apparent, and successful intercultural communication will be down to the individual’s ability to remain sensitive to clues that indicate status.
  • Business people are generally direct and say what they mean, although they will not be confrontational and remember that bargaining is not customary.

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