Poland remains a somewhat hierarchical business culture and managers could probably be best described as authoritative. (Although this has to be written with a caveat around the national origins of the company – a US company will work hard to ‘teach’ US management theories to its local managers.)

Therefore, managers will be less democratic and participative than in certain other European countries such as the Netherlands or Sweden.

It would be expected that the manager knows the answer to difficult problems and that the manager issues direct instructions to employees. As Poles are direct in their speech patterns, these instructions can sometimes seem to be given in a very abrupt manner. Subordinates can get frustrated if instructions are not given in a precise and comprehensive way – and this can result in work remaining unfinished.

It is expected that more junior colleagues show great respect to their superiors and this will often result in meetings being dominated by the most senior person present. Despite the Poles love of direct speech, it is probably unwise to directly contradict the boss in an open meeting. As the manager usually makes the decisions, it is important to cultivate relationships at senior levels.

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

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton

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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 Poland. 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 Poland 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:

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