What do Germans miss in Slovakia and the Czech Republic in cross-cultural business?

Compass for leaders

As an intercultural consultant I have been working with international teams, managers and leaders for more than 15 years. My mission starts with supporting top leaders and continues with the implementation of ideas and establishing bridges between them and their teams. German managers and leaders cooperate with local teams in Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary. I’m introducing them to their cross-cultural cooperation and help them to interpret what values and behaviors they bring to their multicultural teams.

 Professional expertise

German team members and managers are expected to be technically capable in their respective areas. They contribute to discussion if they are asked to propose a solution based on their experience and knowledge. Responsibility is delegated by a manager to a team member who is technically competent to carry out a particular task. The team member performs a task without undue interference or supervision. The same is true for German’s approach to local team members in different cultures managing their local teams.

Clear and precise instructions

German communication style is direct and based on facts. Cooperating with their colleagues and teams they prefer a direct communication where Yes means Yes and No means No. There is no need to look for a hidden meaning between lines. On the other side, cultures with an indirect style can feel offended by their direct feedback and criticism. Czechs, Slovaks and Hungarians belong among those cultures which can sometimes view German’s feedback as an offense.

Building relationships

Slovak, Czech and Hungarian business cultures invest time into relationships building. Relationships are built to cooperate on projects, to create a positive team atmosphere and build long-term customer care. People from those cultures see German manager-subordinate relationships as distant and cold.

Planning, planning and planning

Germans could be described as planners who like to attend meetings having done a considerable amount of preparation. They devote a lot of attention to scheduling the plan of project implementation with detailed steps and scenarios for emergency events.

This approach can be mistaken by people from other cultures as pettiness and even arrogance. Some cultures feel that they do not have enough space to contribute on their side because German colleagues have made up their minds before arriving at a meeting. They lack flexibility and could be lost in discussion focused on presenting Germans’ points thoroughly and asking for well-researched data.

Contribution to discussion

Germans are not afraid to ask direct questions, take a floor to deliver their points of view and provide a negative feedback or reaction at an annual meeting, conference or team discussion. On the other side, they are missing an expert contribution from their business colleagues and partners and willingness to share pros and cons of a particular situation.

A direct and deep debate is expected and encouraged in order to promote the development of the right answers. Therefore, meetings can sometimes seem to be quite heated for those cultures which prefer a diplomatic approach to discussion. They can misinterpret this exchange of ideas as overt.


Details, details and once more details

German presentations are usually supported with a lot more specific detail than might be felt necessary in countries such as Hungary, Slovakia or the Czech Republic. There’s an idea that the lack of supporting details can severely weaken the credibility of an argument. They like to analyse problems in great depth before reaching a conclusion.


A strong separation between a private and professional life

“We are at work to work.” Germans keep a dividing line between work and their private life. Having friends in their private circles doesn’t mean that they will be friends meeting as the representatives of their companies and discussing contracts of cooperation.

Rules keeping

“We have rules to respect and keep them.” German colleagues and business partners ask for rules, provide detailed rules and follow rules. They are not very open to flexibility which is seen as a positive approach in emergency situations in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. If there’s a need to finish a project, to deal with urgent obstacles, there is a well-founded reason why to “bend rules”. Rules are set to avoid uncertainty and help people to find a common way how to cooperate together.

Time perception

Germans belong among cultures which believe they can control time. Appointments are precisely planned. Colleagues and business partners are expected to adhere to agreed schedules. Punctuality is a matter of good manners.

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