Polish Meetings

Like their neighbours in Germany, Poles tend to like to arrive at a meeting having done a great deal of preparation and would feel that people who come less well prepared are showing a lack of professionalism.

As with most ‘pre-planning’ cultures, agendas are usually produced well in advance and the expectation is that the agenda will be followed with little, or no, deviation.

It is also expected that people arrive at the meeting on time and that meetings will finish at the stated time. Cards are usually exchanged at the start of a meeting, although there is no particular ritual which goes along with the exchange. As a great deal of importance is placed on titles and educational background, it is quite a good idea to ensure that this information is printed on your business card.

For people from cultures which tend towards emotion, meetings can seem quite formal affairs with attendees speaking one at a time and with few interruptions being allowed. It can also appear that people show little or no reaction to what you are saying – don’t worry, this lack of physical responsiveness is not a bad sign and should not be taken as a lack of interest. People will ask questions and respond when they need to.

Do not be surprised if the people you are meeting start the meeting with a degree of small talk – it’s all part of the relationship-building process and while relationship- building is not as important in Poland as in Russia, it is still essential to remain patient during this phase of any meeting.

A brief overview of some key concepts to consider when doing business in Poland

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton

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Poland has been the most successful of all the countries in central and eastern Europe and has managed the transition from its former Soviet era system to a liberal, free-market economy remarkably well. Poland even grew during 2008 whilst the rest of the world was in seeming economic meltdown.

How did Poland achieve this success when so many of its neighbours have found the transition much more difficult? Poland got its institutions right from the outset – it focused on the rule of law, on property rights, democratic accountability and on building robust market institutions. Having got those things right, it then worked hard at making EU accession a success. The result? One of the smoothest movements from middle-income to high-income status on record.

Many international companies have found doing business in Poland to be highly profitable and have benefited from a well-educated population who are both internationalist and aspirational. Many Poles have worked abroad, learnt English and then returned home to work for one of the many global companies who have set up operations not only in Warsaw but also many of the second-tier cities.

If you are thinking of doing business in Poland or with Polish colleagues we recommend that you learn about Polish business culture in advance. Poland has manged to work smoothly with its Western European neighbours but that does not mean that it has adopted the same approach to day-to-day business activities as Germany (it’s largest trading partner.) Poland has its own unique business culture which is, like the rest of Poland, going through a period of transition – some say it has more than one business culture split along generational lines. Why not find out before you get there?

This country profile provides an overview of some of the key aspects of Polish business culture in a concise, easy to follow-format. The document includes information on:

  • Background to business
  • Business Structures
  • Management style
  • Meetings
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Women in business
  • Entertaining
  • Top tips