Intercultural Management - Bangladesh
Being a Manager in Bangladesh
The business set up in Bangladesh is extremely conservative and successful cross cultural management will understand the importance of maintaining a degree of formality. Older people and those in senior positions, especially government officials, should be deferred to and treated with dignity and respect.
Bangladeshis prefer to deal with those they know. Therefore, they devote a great deal of time to becoming familiar with you as an individual. Never do anything to make a business colleague appear less in the eyes of others.
The Role of a Manager
Cross cultural management will be more effective when working in Bangladesh with an understanding of the individual roles and existing hierarchy. Employees do not question the decisions that have been reached. Managers or those in a position to do so will make decisions, while in general their subordinates will wait to be told what to do.
In Bangladesh, as in other hierarchical societies, managers may take a somewhat paternalistic attitude to their employees. They may demonstrate a concern for employees that goes beyond the workplace and strictly professional concerns.
Approach to Change
Bangladesh’s intercultural competence and readiness for risk is low. Bangladesh is a low risk and low change-tolerant culture. New projects will be carefully analyzed to assure that whatever risk they represent is thoroughly understood and addressed.
In order for change to take hold, the idea needs to be perceived as good for the group and be accepted by the group. Intercultural sensitivity is important with Bangladesh’s attitude toward risk dramatically impacted by the negative ramifications of failure on both the individual and the group.
Approach to Time and Priorities
Cross cultural understanding is important when reviewing the approach to timelines. There is often a laxity about meeting deadlines with Bangladeshi managers not wanting to upset others in order to force adherence to a deadline.
If it is imperative that a certain timetable is met, it is advisable to give an artificial deadline in advance of the actual date and follow-up repeatedly as the date approaches to ensure compliance.
Globalization and intercultural expansion means some local managers may understand and appreciate the important of adherence to schedules and deadlines.
Bangladeshi managers tend to have a rather autocratic style. Decisions are made at the top of the country and handed down to managers to implement. Although the decision maker may consult with technical experts before reaching a decision, he is not seeking consensus, simply sufficient information to make an intelligent decision.
Subordinates do not generally question what a manager says, as this would be considered inappropriate behavior.
Boss or Team Player?
If you are working in Bangladesh, cross cultural sensitivity is needed and it is important to remember that honor and reputation play an important role. If you would like to encourage participation it is important first to clearly establish a non-threatening work environment and communicate fully that team-member participation is desired.
It is important to qualify ideas that are raised in a gentle manner, protecting the reputation of those bringing up ideas, so no one is shamed. If someone is exposed and embarrassed, they may likely not participate again, and it will stem the flow of ideas and the participation of the entire group.
Praise should be given to the entire group, and not to individuals.
Communication and Negotiation Styles
The only proper way to approach someone you do not know is with a formal introduction. The ideal person to handle this is a high-status person or company known to both parties. This third-party introduction bridges the relationship gap between you and the person with whom you wish to meet.
Negotiations often take a long time due to the lengthy process of building trust and developing a personal relationship and are conducted formally .Do not remove your suit jacket without permission. Even then, unless the most senior ranking Bangladeshi person does, it is a good idea to keep your jacket on despite the heat and humidity.
Intercultural knowledge and sensitivity is essential to successful management. Bangladeshis will seldom say "no" overtly, so you must watch their non-verbal cues.
In general, Bangladeshis expect concessions in both price and terms. It is acceptable to demand similar concessions for each one you grant.
Need more help? We run cultural awareness course for Bangladesh which also cover management and leadership,