Intercultural Management - Senegal
Being a Manager in Senegal
To ensure successful cross cultural management in Senegal, it is essential to conduct business formally and to remain courteous at all times.
Business is conducted more readily after a personal relationship has developed. Therefore, the Senegalese spend a great deal of time getting to know their business associates.
If you do not know someone in the Senegalese business community, you may want to check with your embassy in Senegal, the Senegalese embassy in your country, trade organizations, or international banks or accounting firms to locate someone to handle this important role.
Hierarchy is important in Senegal. At the same time, it is important not to be overt about your wealth and possessions as this may remind businesspeople of their former colonizers.
The Role of a ManagerEmployees generally believe that their supervisors have been chosen because they have more experience and greater knowledge. As in other hierarchical cultures, managers often adopt a paternalistic attitude to their employees. They may demonstrate a concern for employees that goes beyond the workplace and strictly professional concerns.
Approach to ChangeLike many African countries, the tolerance for risk and change changes by the level of the person involved. Lower level employees, who have little power, also have limited tolerance for risk. Higher level employees can take greater risks, albeit they may also only make changes slowly after considerable thought, planning and evaluation.
The fear of appearing foolish may lead to the need to thoroughly examine every implication before reaching a decision and will require some cross cultural sensitivity.
Approach to Time and PrioritiesSenegal is very relaxed with its attitude towards schedules and timelines. The Senegalese are often overly optimistic when agreeing to schedules and deadlines since they prefer to say what they would like to see occur rather than what will occur. Since they do not want to disappoint you, they may agree to a deadline that is impossible. Patience is a necessary attribute to successful cross cultural management in Senegal.
Global and intercultural 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.
Decision MakingBusiness is hierarchical. Managers tell subordinates what they want done and how they expect them to perform the task in the manner outlined. Employees follow a manager’s instructions without comment and expect to be given explicit instructions.
Cross cultural sensitivity is important. You should remember never to chastise or criticize an employee publicly. When providing criticism, even under the guise of helpfulness, understand that employees are not comfortable with the concept of constructive criticism. In fact, they are not comfortable with unpleasant discussions. It is better to allow a trusted Senegalese to have the discussion for you.
Boss or Team Player?The Senegalese enjoy working in teams and often collaborate quite effectively across hierarchical lines. The communication within a team is generally collegial, with everyone remaining polite and striving to reach a harmonious solution.
The successful cross cultural manager will effectively harness the talent of the group and develop any resulting synergies. The leader will be deferred to as the final authority in any decisions that are made, but they do not dominate the discussion or generation of ideas. Praise should be given to the entire group as well as to individuals.
Communication and Negotiation StylesCross cultural management will be more effective if you bear in mind the importance of establishing a relationship. Do not expect to start business discussions immediately. Allow time for social exchanges and pleasantries. Companies are hierarchical. Ultimate decision-making often rests with the CEO and decisions are reached slowly. If you try to rush things, you will give offense and risk your business relationship. Controlling your temper is imperative in this culture.
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