International Management Guides

International Management Guides

Designed specifically for the traveling manager, these short, sharp guides to being a manager in a foreign country offer invaluable insights and practical tips.

Intercultural Management - Ireland

Being a Manager in Ireland

Successful cross cultural management should take into account the fact that the business set up in Ireland is a bit less formal and ritualized than it is in many European countries. In general, the Irish work hard but they also take time to enjoy life and expect others to do the same.

There are radical differences between entrepreneurial and high tech companies and those that favor the old traditions. One might expect these two perspectives to be in constant conflict; however, the Irish seem able to balance them.

The Role of a Manager

Cross cultural communiciation will be more effective when working in Ireland when you remember that the most productive managers in Ireland recognize and value the specialized knowledge that employees at all levels bring. Employees expect to be consulted on decisions that affect them and the greater good of the organization.

Newcomers to the Irish management style should carefully study the corporate culture of specific companies because they may vary from being hierarchical to rather egalitarian. Consequently, employees will range from feeling empowered to speak out in the management process, to those who believe it is most important to simply execute the instructions by their leadership.

Employees expect to be praised and complimented for work done well, although they prefer praise be given in private. The Irish are wary of praise that is not deserved, so be certain that your comments are genuine and specific to the individual performance.

Approach to Change

Ireland’s intercultural adaptability and readiness for change is developing all the time. Ireland is seen to have a medium tolerance for change and risk. It is important for innovations to have a track record or history noting the benefits if they are to be accepted and implemented.

The fear of exposure, and the potential of embarrassment that may accompany failure, brings about aversion to risk and the need to thoroughly examine the potential negative implications. While in risk-tolerant environments, failure is perceived as a learning process that encourages confidence in future ventures, failure in Ireland causes a long-term loss of confidence by the individual as well as by others. Because of this attitude, intercultural sensitivity is going to be required, especially when conducting group meetings and discussing contributions made my participating individuals.

Approach to Time and Priorities

Ireland is a moderate time culture meaning they may, at times, be slightly more relaxed about deadlines. Nevertheless, the expectations of intercultural and global expansion have caused the Irish to adopt relatively strict standards of adhering to schedules.

When working with people from Ireland, it’s advisable to reinforce the importance of the agreed-upon deadlines and how that may affect the rest of the organization. Successful intercultural management will depend on the individual’s ability to meet deadlines.

Decision Making

The Irish have a rather democratic approach to hierarchy and do not see marked differences between managers and their subordinates. While in some large companies, senior level managers are the key decision-makers, employees' opinions are still sought and considered before a final determination is made.

Boss or Team Player?

In Ireland, groups collaborate well together as teams. Members are generally chosen to participate based on tangible skills or the knowledge base they bring, and are equally welcome to contribute to any discussion that may arise. They are encouraged to generate new ideas that may further the direction of the plan or spawn a new track entirely. In successful, dynamic teams, all members are valued for their actual and potential contribution, and all are treated with equal respect.

Communication and Negotiation Styles

The Irish do not like to say "no" so to avoid cross cultural miscommunication, make sure you understand what has or has not been agreed. They prefer to offer noncommittal responses such as "maybe". The Irish focus on short-term results and benefits when reaching decisions. Avoid confrontational behavior or high-pressure tactics, which can be counterproductive. Never make exaggerated claims about your products or delivery dates. The Irish are more impressed by results than promises. The Irish prefer to do business with people they feel comfortable with, so be prepared to engage in some casual relationship building, such as dinner or drinks at a local pub.