Intercultural Management - Venezuela
Being a Manager in Venezuela
Management Guide Venezuela
The business set up in Venezuela is hierarchical and, as such, clearly defined roles exist. To ensure successful cross cultural management it is important to remember this. Since Venezuela has a formal culture, err on the side of being formal and conservative rather than risk upsetting a potential business relationship because you were too informal and may have appeared flippant.
Women often hold significant management positions in Venezuela, particularly in the field of engineering. Once they have attained these senior positions, women's opinions are generally well respected.
It is important to have a wide range of contacts. This is a country where "who you know" is often more important than what you know.
The Role of a Manager
If you are working with people from Venezuela, it is important to remember the role that hierarchy plays in teamwork and collaboration. Cross cultural communication needs to take into account that traditionally it would have been unthinkable for someone of a higher position to collaborate with, or ask ideas of one of a lower status.
However, this is changing and if you would like to encourage participation, you need to make it clear this is welcome and ensure you establish a non-threatening environment. Any ideas that are raised need to be treated gently so as to protect the reputation of the participant.
Because of the paternalistic attitude of managers, the role often extends into one of giving advice on personal matters.
Approach to Change
Venezuela’s intercultural adaptability and readiness for change is developing all the time. Venezuela 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. 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
Venezuela is a fluid time culture, and, as is the case with many fluid time cultures, it is also very relationship-oriented. People in Venezuela will not want to upset others in order to push through a deadline.
While timescales and deadlines need to be set well in advance and reiterated carefully, it should be understood that these will be viewed as flexible.
Global and intercultural expansion means that some managers may have a greater appreciation of the need to enforce timescales and as such, agreed deadlines are more likely to be met.
Cross cultural management is more likely to succeed if you understand that Venezuelan business is relatively hierarchical and managers tend to be autocratic. There are still the remnants of social class in the business arena, since the upper echelons are generally from well connected families. Managers tell subordinates what they want done, although they may consult with subordinates with experience in a specific area before making decisions.
Boss or Team Player?
The hierarchical nature of the Venezuelan business world means it is important that the manager maintains his/her role as boss.
When the manager needs to work collectively, this needs to be clearly stated.
Communication and Negotiation Styles
Successful cross cultural communication will need to take into account Venezuela’s relationship-driven culture. Relationships are viewed as more important than business documents. Expect negotiations and decision-making to be a lengthy process. Venezuelans focus on long-term rather than short-term goals. Hierarchy is important, although not always apparent. Defer to the person with the most authority, as they are most likely the decision maker. Men should not take off their suit jacket unless the most senior Venezuelan does. Women should never remove their suit jacket during meetings or negotiations.