As has already been pointed out, British managers tend more towards generalisation than specialisation. The proposition that the manager needs to be the most technically competent person would receive little support in the UK.
Therefore, pure academic education is afforded much less respect than in other countries (notably Germany and France) and the emphasis is on relevant experience and a hands-on, pragmatic approach. Titles such as doctor or professor are rarely used outside academic circles and can even be seen a sign of affectation.
Much more emphasis is placed on the man-management skills needed to produce the best results from the team. A manager is expected to have the interpersonal skills to meld a team together and it is this ability as a fixer which is highly regarded. Modern managers often want to appear as a primus inter pares, cultivating a close, often humorous and overtly soft relationship with subordinates. This seeming closeness should not, however, be mistaken for weakness on the part of the boss – when difficult decisions need to be taken, they will be taken.
The British find it difficult to be direct and British managers often give instructions to subordinates in a very indirect way, preferring to request assistance rather than to be explicit. This use of language can be very confusing for the non-British (see Communication Styles later.)
Written and Produced by Keith Warburton
The United Kingdom remains one of the largest, most competitive markets in the world. It is a global centre of excellence across a wide range of business sectors as well as being a world-leader in higher education. The City of London, along with New York, continues to dominate international finance and UK-based legal firms retain their pre-eminence as global players.
Despite these massive positive factors, the UK faces a number of challenges going forward. How will the UK cope with a post-Brexit world as it navigates its way through the Brexit negotiations and looks to forge new partnerships outside it traditional markets within the EU? Will the UK be able to improve its notoriously poor productivity levels and will the City of London be able to retain its leadership role in global finance?
All of these questions will be answered in the coming decade but in the intervening period the UK remains open for business and the prospects for doing successful business in the UK remain positive. The UK actively seeks overseas companies who see the country as an attractive market and world-class incentives are in place to help you take advantage of a sophisticated consumer base and a highly educated workforce.
If you are considering doing business in the UK, you need to consider the cultural issues you are likely to encounter. Put simply, the British are quick to take offence. Your communication style might be viewed as aggressive, when you thought you were merely being helpfully direct or your negotiating style could appear confrontational when you thought you were offering useful alternatives. Study the UK approach to business in advance – it will pay dividends.
This country profile provides an overview of some of the key aspects of business culture in the UK in a concise, easy to follow-format. The document includes information on: