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Cross Cultural Management Guide – United Kingdom


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 UK:

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


Gain an Expert Understanding:

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

Management in the United Kingdom

To ensure successful cross cultural management should treat all people with respect and deference and to not waste anyone's time. This means that you should arrive at meetings prepared and ready to discuss the matter at hand.

  • Expect your British colleagues to not be very emotive with their facial expressions and word choices. And keep in mind, the British are known for their dry wit.
  • In the UK, even though traditional organizations may be somewhat hierarchical, there is a sen
  • se that most people in the company have an important role to play and are valued for their input. Therefore, managers lose no respect by consulting employees to gather background information and or by sharing the decision-making process. More and more often, employees expect to be consulted on decisions that affect them and the greater good of the organization, and not doing so may have a negative impact on moral for those who want to feel responsible for the success of the organization.

The Role of a Manager

Cross cultural communiciation will be more effective when working in United Kingdom when you remember that the most productive managers in United Kingdom recognize and value the specialized knowledge that employees at all levels bring.

  • Employees expect to be consulted on decisions that affect them and the greater good of the organization.


Approach to Change

The United Kingdom’s intercultural adaptability and readiness for change is developing all the time. United Kingdom 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, brings about aversion to risk and the need to thoroughly examine the potential negative implications so some intercultural sensitivity may be required.


Approach to Time and Priorities

The UK is a controlled-time culture. Global and intercultural expansion has meant that adherence to schedules is important and expected.

  • Missing a deadline is a sign of poor management and inefficiency, and will shake people’s confidence.
  • People in controlled-time cultures tend to have their time highly scheduled, and it’s generally a good idea to provide and adhere to performance milestones.
  • Since Brits respect schedules and deadlines, it is not unusual for managers to expect people to work late in order to meet target deadlines.
  • Successful intercultural management will depend on the individual’s ability to meet deadlines.


Decision Making

The management style in the United Kingdom is undergoing a metamorphosis, so you will find a variety of styles. In old-line businesses, the managing directors are the overall decision-makers.

  • In other industries, managers strive for consensus and make a concerted attempt to get everyone's input before a decision is reached. The manager may still make the ultimate decision, after consultation with the staff.
  • Teamwork is becoming increasingly important in most organizations. Brits believe the best ideas and solutions often come from having many stakeholders meet to discuss an issue. They also prefer for the highest-ranking person to make the decision (and then perhaps clear it with someone at a higher level), so decision-making can be laborious.
  • British managers will praise employees, although not generally in public. Subordinates expect their efforts to be recognized and rewarded. Most British are suspicious if praise is excessive or undeserved.


Boss or Team Player?

In United Kingdom, groups collaborate well together as teams. Members are generally chosen to participate based on tangible skills or the knowledge base they bring, and are equally welcome to contribute to any discussion that may arise.

  • They are encouraged to generate new ideas that may further the direction of the plan or spawn a new track entirely. In successful, dynamic teams, all members are valued for their actual and potential contribution, and all are treated with equal respect.


Communication and Negotiation Styles

Communication will be direct and reserved.

  • Avoid confrontational behavior or high-pressure tactics. Avoid displays of emotion and do not argue on the basis of feelings.
  • Decision-making is slow and deliberate and so patience may be a necessary cross cultural attribute.
  • It is a good idea to send an email summarizing any decisions made and the next steps. 

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