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.
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This World Business Culture profile is designed as an introduction to business culture in Switzerland only and a more detailed understanding needs a more in-depth exploration which we can provide through our training and consultancy services.