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Russian management style
Here we present some important issues about Russian business culture that will help you to interact more effective with your partners, clients and colleagues.
Russia has a business culture and etiquette that differs significantly from much of what people are used to in other countries and this isn't a problem of Russians but it is unique nation character from a historical past.
Russian management style has some features that could be or not in day-to-day business practice.
Company structures reflect the traditional Russian mentality. Russian companies tend to be driven by one strong central figure who will make strategic decisions with little or no consultation with anyone other than a handful of close trusted advisors.
The image of Russian businessman in the early 1990ies was far from positive: poor behavior, criminal, a lack of education and knowledge of languages, as well as disrespect for others. They had to survive in a new environment and build the foundations of a new business culture. Living in an unpredictable and fast-changing environment, Russian businessman could gain quick profits and think only about present and not future. Nowadays the profile of Russian businessman is transformed to more stable, reliable but we still recommend to learn more about your partners before doing business with them. Most employers seem to promote a democratic work environment nearly seems to modern business culture with Russian peculiarities.
Many senior Russian businessmen have backgrounds in academia and have only entered the world of commerce since the collapse of the Soviet system. Young generation of businessmen is highly educated, often Western-oriented professionals are gradually growing and gaining power. The major difference between these modern Russians and their predecessors is their formal business-oriented education and their distinct Western work and management styles. They are educated, diplomatic, speak English fluently, are clearly more punctual and task-oriented than their predecessors and share rather realistic and individualistic attitudes towards life. New generations of entrepreneurs are more egalitarian and have no fear towards foreigners.
New school Russian managers show more respect to contract conditions, stick to time commitments and are usually less tough negotiators. In many ways, this behavior is new businessman due to the influence of the expatriates of international companies that are in the mid-1990s opened representative offices in Russia.
Nevertheless, in spite of their strong Western orientation, new Russian generations (especially those living outside of the two major business centers, Moscow and St. Petersburg) share the basics of Russian mentality with previous generations.
Russians strict hierarchy and prefer to work in a team. Russian executives prefer to meet with people of similar rank and position. More often than not, meetings with them are fairly informal and attendants are treated like equals.
Networking and extended interpersonal allegiances are essential to successful business and the importance of resource allocation to ensure the development of good quality relationships should not be underestimated. The team leader is expected to play a main role and to give precise detailed instructions to staff. Body language is minimal in meetings (unless being overly theatrical during an impasse in a negotiation situation) which can lead to mistaken impressions of disinterest. People believe things when they have heard them from someone with whom they have a trusting relationship.
Formal meetings are serious occasions and should not be treated lightly. Formal meetings are often held to ratify decisions which have been made elsewhere and to give clear instruction on key tasks to be performed. Smaller, more informal meetings often occur behind closed doors where senior management might canvas opinion or seek other opinions. Don't waste time trying to get decisions out of middle and junior managers - go straight to the top if possible. Most of the contracts are built on trust and interpersonal relations and return part of the cost as senior level sometimes wants.
Russians see negotiations as win-lose. They do not believe in win-win scenarios and view compromise as weakness. They will continue negotiating until you offer concessions. Russians even may lose their temper, walk out of the meeting, or threaten to terminate the relationship in an attempt to coerce you to change your position. When it comes to sealing a deal, Russians prefer to put things in writing and will insist on having everything signed by hand. Russian companies are weak in use of marketing and competitive advantages in the negotiation process. So the most critical element is demonstrating your knowledge, professionalism and expertise. Russians expect long and detailed presentations that include a history of the subject and a review of existing precedents. Russians often expect detailed presentations including the history of the topic at hand and detailed analysis of the present situation.
If you attend a meeting with a traditional Russian business, the same level of people should be represented on each side of the table. The handshake is used both on meeting and taking leave, primarily among men.
Schedules and deadlines, as it often happens in fatalistic cultures, are flexible and situational. Russians still have a survival mentality in which the ends often justify the means. Russian negotiating teams are hierarchical, and only the leader of the team will speak and make decisions. This is also concerns of purchase and sales.
Russians that are not present senior level tend to dress as well as their salaries will allow sometimes they prefer counterfeiting of famous luxury brands. Men would tend to wear either a dark suit or jacket and trousers with a tie and women mainly wear business suits or blouses and skirts. It is perfectly acceptable, however, to bring a gift to your first meeting. Anything from chocolates to a local souvenir to an item that displays the company logo.
Doing business, conducting meetings, making decisions, negotiating and getting to know each other is increasingly being done at dinner. If your Russian counterpart decides to invite you out do not refuse the request as it would be rude. Remember Russians do like a drop or two of alcohol. Refusing to drink is unacceptable unless you give a plausible excuse, such as explaining that health or religious reasons prevent you from imbibing.
If you have any questions about Russian business style, the way of doing business in Russia NBS Group experts are ready to help you with a great pleasure. And you should still know that foreigner needs a visa to visit Russia (except for visitors from those countries which have a visa-free regime with Russia) and registration document. Business visas are used for attending meetings, conferences, auctions, conducting negotiations, concluding and extending contracts, and other business events. Foreign citizens must register with the immigration authorities (FMS) after their arrival in Russia.