Being pragmatic and unpretentious are widely respected virtues in Switzerland and these are characteristics which are expected from managers.
Thus, Swiss managers will tend to be fairly low-key in their approach to most issues and not display any of the theatricality sometimes associated with bosses in southern European countries. It is important to be reserved, objective and level headed.
Authority and respect are earned by being perceived to have relevant knowledge in relevant areas – whether that is technical knowledge or company/client specific knowledge. Technical knowledge and academic qualifications are both highly respected and it is usual for the manager to be amongst the most technically competent in the department. The generalist management approach is less in evidence than in countries such as the USA or the UK.
At senior level, decisions are made following a collegiate model, where decisions evolve amongst peers over a period of time rather than emanating from one, dynamic, charismatic mover and shaker. This can obviously lead to the decision-making process being somewhat protracted, but without the necessary degree of peer level agreement, it is difficult to implement policies.
This non-confrontational, collective approach at senior management level is reflected in the desire to seek agreement and buy-in further down the line. It is important in Switzerland for the bulk of the people to feel involved in the process.
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 Switzerland. 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 Switzerland 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: