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India – UK Management Culture



I have received a request from senior leaders to help some of our aspiring leaders from India to settle into our business and the UK people management culture. Having worked in India myself I am very aware of the respect for hierarchy and a promininent dictatorial management style which is not settling well in our business. I'd love any ideas from people about courses available / coaching programmes / distance learning...... i don't know! They have been on generic leadership courses but the feeling and feedback is that there is a deeper ingrained cultural and personal belief. This makes it quite a sensitive issue really. How could I help these individuals?

Gemma Holden

5 Responses

  1. Compromise, and move slow
    It’s not a straightfoward problem this one, it’s something that is not just true in India but in a large part of Asia.

    In order to move people forward you need to take it slow and make some compromises yourselves in terms of the timescales for progression. Once you’ve done this – take it in bite size chunks.

    Their current culture will help not hinder with this, give them 1 hour a week of intensive training on a specific behaviour. Ask them to implement this behaviour, then ask them to review the effects of this behaviour and how they could improve on it. Once the behaviour is ingrained and successful – move on to the next one.

    After a while you can watch this snowball. But be prepared for some behaviours not to work like they would in the west, and to have to work with their subordinates too – so they can assist in the process and benefit from it.

    Otherwise your managers will start to implement (for example) suggestion based working and get no suggestions (the cultural bias to loss of face will inhibit suggestion making) and see the whole thing as a failure.

    We’ve done quite a bit of this kind of work – if you want to chat about anything please e-mail me at [email protected]

    Good luck, stay with it, it will work out well in the end.

  2. Centre for International Briefing
    These people may be able to help. They are based in Farnham Castle in Surrey.

  3. Peacocks in the land of Penguins
    Hi Gemma
    It’s not a course, but a book.

    “A peacock in the Land of Penguins” – Barbara Hateley shows how to manage diversity in the workforce.
    With pictures and short single paragraphed pages it seems to fit your problem ideally and offers strategies to ensure those aspiring leaders are not lost to the organisation.


  4. India-
    A colleague Siraj Gurgee has recently been running such courses and giving advice in these Indian locations. He is actually now a UK Manager from India working in Lancashire,UK



  5. here’s a possibility
    Hi Gem

    I would suggest that this requires more of a mentoring strategy than a training / workshop intervention.

    Having worked with our call centre in Mumbai over the last 4 years we have found that constant discussion about the differing cultures and their impact on each other is a constructive way to approach it. It also builds trust between the two parties – as you know this is critical.

    Hope this helps.


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