As has already been pointed out, British managers tend more towards generalisation than specialisation. The proposition that the manager needs to be the most technically competent person would receive little support in the UK.
Therefore, pure academic education is afforded much less respect than in other countries (notably Germany and France) and the emphasis is on relevant experience and a hands-on, pragmatic approach. Titles such as Doctor or Professor are rarely used outside academic circles and can even be seen a sign of affectation.
Much more emphasis is placed on the man-management skills needed to produce the best results from the team. A manager is expected to have the interpersonal skills to meld a team together and it is this ability as a fixer which is highly regarded. Modern managers often want to appear as a primus inter pares, cultivating a close, often humorous and overtly soft relationship with subordinates. This seeming closeness should not, however, be mistaken for weakness on the part of the boss – when difficult decisions need to be taken, they will be taken.
The British find it difficult to be direct and British managers often give instructions to subordinates in a very indirect way, preferring to request assistance rather than to be explicit. This use of language can be very confusing for the non-British (see Communication Styles later.)
Global Business culture is a leading training provider in the fields of cross-cultural communication and global virtual team working. We provide training to global corporations in live classroom-based formats, through webinars and also through our cultural awareness digital learning hub, Global Business Compass.
This World Business Culture profile is designed as an introduction to business culture in Great Britain only and a more detailed understanding needs a more in-depth exploration which we can provide through our training and consultancy services.