Managers in Germany are expected to be technically capable in their respective areas and to show strong, clear leadership.
Although disagreement with a superior will rarely be seen in public this does not mean that Germans are ‘Yes’ men. Subordinates tend to respect the technical abilities of their superiors and this will impact on their willingness to implement instructions. (The interesting corollary of this is that when less technically proficient non-Germans are asked to manage a team of Germans, the non-German can sometimes be seen as lacking the key prerequisite for developing the team’s respect.)
Responsibility is expected to be delegated by the manager to the member of the team who is technically competent to carry out a particular task. The team member then expects to be left to perform the task without undue interference or supervision. Thus instructions need to be clear, precise and above all unambiguous.
People from cultures where managers are expected to develop a closer, more intimate relationship can see the German manager-subordinate relationship as distant and cold. The higher up the organisation people rise the more a sense of the dignity of the position becomes apparent. Socialising tends to be at peer group level rather than up and down a hierarchy.
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This World Business Culture profile is designed as an introduction to business culture in Germany only and a more detailed understanding needs a more in-depth exploration which we can provide through our training and consultancy services.