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Turkish management style guide

Cross Cultural Management Guide to Turkey


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


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

Topics include:

  • Management style
  • Approach to change
  • Time and scheduling 
  • Communication style
  • Negotiation style 


Being a Manager in Turkey

The business culture in Turkey is conservative and formal. At work, it's important to be courteous at all times. In other words, in business, it is crucial that you treat people 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 ('sen').
  • Turks are very formal in their business dealings, at least until a personal relationship has been developed, then they start to relax..
  • Good manners and proper etiquette are seen as a symbol of good upbringing.
  • Proceed slowly and cautiously. Traditional attitudes abound under a cosmopolitan veneer.

The Role of a Manager

Managers new to Turkey need to appreciate that there is a certain order to the way companies are organised. Every person has a very distinct role with all the roles working together. This should be respected.

  • In Turkey, 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.
  • Managers who do not invest time in understanding the circumstances of their employees can be perceived as cold or lacking character.

Approach to Change

Turkish culture tends to embrace change, however, changes are made slowly. The time, thought, discussion and planning can seem over the top to some other cultures.

  • Cultural sensitivity is important to ensure you always protect people's sense of face and that you don't highlight errors or shortcomings in front of others
  • It would be perceived as imprudent to introduce rapid changes, and yet it would be recognized as poor management to resist change unnecessarily.

Time and Priorities

Although Turkish people are punctual, deadlines and timescales can be more fluid in Turkey. Patience will play an essential part in successful 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 working 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 and top-down.

  • Social class distinctions exist in business since the higher echelons generally come from the upper class.
  • Managers tend to tell subordinates what they want to be done; they do not attempt to reach a consensus.
  • Managers often treat their subordinates as they would their extended family.
  • What you wear and how you groom yourself are considered indicative of your seriousness.
  • Subordinates are expected to wear their jackets buttoned when in the presence of their manager or anyone above them in status.

Boss or Team Player?

Knowledge and understanding of hierarchical systems are essential.

  • Successful managers will understand the importance of maintaining people's positions of authority, including your own.
  • Turkish managers are seen more as a boss rather than someone who helps get jobs done.
  • 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 toward 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 business discussions.
  • Never appear impatient or attempt to rush people - it will not be received well.
  • This is a hierarchical society where decisions are reached at the top of the company and communication is downwards.
  • Expect a great deal of bargaining and haggling. Turks are tough negotiators. High-pressure sales tactics may be used.
  • There are intricate rules governing taxation, permits, and procedures. Be certain you have everything lined up properly.

Icon of the Turkish Flag with red background and white crescent moon and star

Get more insights into Turkey

To learn more about the country, culture and business practices, then why not: 

Purchase an in-depth Turkey Country Insight Report, authored by a country specialist, or

Take part in a two-hour live webinar, customised to meet your unique needs, with one of our Turkish culture training experts


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