Doing Business in India

>> Indian Business Management Style

As has already been stated, India is an enormously hierarchical society (arguably the most hierarchical in the world) and this, obviously, has an impact on management style.

It is imperative that there is a boss and that the manager acts like a boss. The position of manager demands a certain amount of role-playing from the boss and a certain amount of deferential behaviour from his subordinates. The boss is definitely not expected to perform any seemingly menial tasks such as making coffee for everybody or moving chairs in a meeting room! Anglo-Saxon concepts of egalitarianism where the boss is the first amongst equals are virtually incomprehensible in a society still dominated by the historical conventions of the caste system.

Therefore, the boss is expected to give explicit instructions which will be followed to the letter – even if everybody knows full well that the instruction is incorrect. Vague requests for action, with the expectation that staff will show the necessary level of initiative are likely to end in inaction, as staff will be left confused as to the wishes of the manager. Managing people in India requires a level of micro-management which many western business people feel extremely uncomfortable with but which is likely to bring the best results.

It is also worth bearing in mind that many off-shore centres in India are staffed by recent graduates who, although highly educated, intelligent and motivated, will lack basic commercial experience. Any office in which all the managers were 25 years old and the team-members were 23 years-old would lack a degree of experience. Inexperience does not equate to incompetence and this needs to be borne in mind at all times.

Latest version updated:: 23rd March 2017

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