Spanish Management Style

The style of a manager is of great importance. Much greater weight is placed on personal attributes than on mere technical excellence.

The respect, which is afforded the manager by subordinates, is directly proportionate to the personality of the boss (jefe). Key personal attributes which would be admired might be a potent mixture of such issues as honour, courage, seriousness, trustworthiness and the acceptance of the gravitas of the leadership function.

Managers are expected to manage. Spanish managers have been described as benevolent autocrats and this can be difficult to accept for outsiders who are more used to a consensual approach from superiors. The boss is expected to be courageous and consultation could be perceived as weakness – doesn’t he know the answer? This does not mean that debate is forbidden – far from it. Everything is permissible as long as everybody is aware of who is ultimately in charge and who will make the final decision.

Instructions tend to be specific and task-oriented with detailed explanations of how to achieve the end result. Mistakes will be commented on by the boss at the time they occur and then not mentioned. Formal appraisal systems of the type in common usage in many other countries are a recent innovation and not necessarily welcomed.

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

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton

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Spain has had a rollercoaster ride over the past twenty years from an economic perspective. The country went through a classic boom and bust scenario. The Spanish population felt the highs and lows of a rapid growth in living standards only to be then battered by a massive downturn leading to wage stagnation and record levels of unemployment – especially amongst the younger generation.

Things seem to be picking up however and the hope is that Spain has weathered the economic storm and is poised for a period of solid, manageable GDP growth which can help to drive the country into a more prosperous and sustainable future. Some painful lessons have been learnt the hard way and future economic consolidation will be built on stronger foundations going forward.
If you are thinking of doing business in Spain, the economic signals are positive and now is probably a good time to approach the market. The country has a highly educated workforce and a strong middle-class consumer base. As a key member of the European Union, Spain has well established trading links throughout Europe. Add this to its position as ‘the gateway to South America’ and its geographic proximity to North Africa and Spain starts to look like a highly attractive market.

However, if you are thinking of doing business with Spain it is extremely important that you do some homework before diving into any initial relationship-building activities. What are the key motivators of potential partners or clients in Spain? How are decisions arrived at and what is the best approach in terms of communication? Studying Spanish business culture will help you make the right impressions from the outset.

This country profile provides an overview of some of the key aspects of Spanish 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