People wishing to manage others effectively in Malaysia need to be aware of certain critical issues, which may vary enormously from their own country of origin.
Firstly, as an hierarchically oriented country, managers are expected to be people who are viewed as being worthy of respect and this respect is based rather on personal attributes than on more task-oriented matters. People are worthy of respect if they are older and have the wisdom that age brings. People are also worthy of respect when they show respect to the face of others. Therefore, the manager should never do anything to make a subordinate lose face. Reprimands are often best done through the use of a third party. It is also difficult to respect those who are overly direct – vagueness and diplomacy are an art form, whereas directness can be construed as uncivilised and uneducated behaviour.
The manager is also expected to take a holistic interest in the well-being of the subordinate – both in work and outside. The relationship could be construed as being more like father and son than the western view of boss and subordinate.
Secondly, as basically group-oriented in approach, people like to feel part of a team and expect individual aspirations to be sublimated to the group needs. Managers should foster this inter-group co-operation rather than try to set up inter-group competitiveness which will lead to lack of harmony and therefore unhappiness.
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This World Business Culture profile is designed as an introduction to business culture in Malaysia only and a more detailed understanding needs a more in-depth exploration which we can provide through our training and consultancy services.