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
This country profile has been produced to give a short overview of some of the key concepts to bear in mind when doing business with contacts in Great Britain. It is intended to be an aid to business people who have commercial dealings with counterparties in the country but should not be seen as an exhaustive guide to this topic or as a substitute for more substantial research should there be a need.
With this in mind, we have covered the areas which are key to a better understanding of the cultural mindset underpinning business dealings in Great Britain and which are, quite often, extremely different from the approach and thought processes associated with business in other parts of the world.
Therefore this briefing note is broken into short, bite-sized sections on the following topics: