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 International Management Guides

International Management Guides

Designed specifically for the traveling manager, these short, sharp guides to being a manager in a foreign country offer invaluable insights and practical tips.

Intercultural Management - Turkey

Being a Manager in Turkey

The business set up in Turkey is very formal and cross cultural management will be more successful if you bear in mind the importance of being courteous at all times. In other words, in business it is crucial that you treat people formally and with proper respect and deference. This includes using titles and surnames and the plural word for you ("siz") when addressing someone of a higher status or someone with whom you do not have a close relationship. Let your Turkish business colleagues determine when your friendship has progressed to the point where you may use the singular form. Turks are polite and formal in their business dealings, at least until a personal relationship has been developed. Good manners and proper etiquette are seen as a symbol of good breeding.

Proceed slowly and cautiously. Traditional attitudes abound under a cosmopolitan veneer. Many business people are not as westernized as they first appear.

The Role of a Manager

Cross cultural communication will be more effective when managing in Turkey, if you keep it in mind that each person has a very distinct role within the organization.

In Turkey, as in other hierarchical societies, managers may take a somewhat paternalistic attitude to their employees. They may demonstrate a concern for employees that goes beyond the workplace.

Approach to Change

Turkey’s intercultural adaptability and readiness for change is apparent although changes are still made slowly, requiring a considerable amount of thought, planning and evaluation. It would be perceived as imprudent to introduce rapid change, and yet it would be recognized as poor management to resist change unnecessarily.

Cross cultural sensitivity is important with Turkey’s attitude toward risk dramatically impacted by the negative ramifications of failure on both the individual and the group.

Approach to Time and Priorities

Deadlines and timescales are fluid in Turkey. Patience will play an essential part in successful cross cultural management.

While timescales and deadlines need to be set well in advance and reiterated carefully, it should be understood that these will be viewed as flexible.

Global and intercultural expansion means that some managers may have a greater appreciation of the need to enforce timescales and as such, agreed deadlines are more likely to be met.

Decision Making

Turkish business is hierarchical and the management style tends to be more autocratic than the western style of leadership. Social class distinctions exist in business, since the higher echelons generally come from the upper class. Managers tell subordinates what they want done. They do not attempt to reach a consensus. Managers often treat their subordinates as they would their extended family.

The way one dresses is considered indicative of their seriousness towards work. Subordinates are expected to wear their jackets buttoned when in the presence of their manager or anyone above them in status. They are also expected to open doors for their superiors and stand when their superiors enter the room, in much the same way young people are expected to behave to older people in social situations.

Boss or Team Player?

Cross cultural knowledge and understanding of the hierarchical system is essential. Successful intercultural management will understand the importance of maintaining their positions of authority. Subordinates are expected to open doors for their superiors and stand when their superiors enter the room, in much the same way young people are expected to behave to older people in social situations.

Communication and Negotiation Styles

Personal relationships are the foundation for a successful business relationship. There will be a great deal of small talk before getting down to the business discussion. Patience may be a necessary cross cultural attribute. Never appear impatient or attempt to rush a Turk to make a decision. This is a hierarchical society where decisions are reached at the top of the company. Expect a great deal of bargaining and haggling. Turks are tough negotiators. High-pressure sales tactics may be used. It is a good idea to hire an interpreter unless you are certain of the English language proficiency of the people you will be meeting in order to avoid any possible cross cultural miscommunication. There are intricate rules governing taxation, permits, and procedures. Be certain you have everything lined up properly.

Need more help? We run Turkish cultural awareness training which cover management and leadership.