Managing people in Russia
Today we look back to very interesting four days in Moscow, having explored the city’s rich historical sites and experienced its notorious traffic jams.
On this last day of our trip Dr. Irina Retrovskaya of the Institute for Complex Strategic Studies presented the Topic “Managing people in Russia”.
In her lecture Dr. Retrovskaya compared the characteristics of Russian employees as they are seen by expatriate managers to the views of Russian Executive MBA students. She supported her comparison by giving background information for the different behaviour patterns based on historical facts of Russia.
Very important things to remember when leading in Russia are:
- The approach to rules and order is heavily influenced by the legislation of Russia which is so extensive and complicated that society developed an attitude to work around it.
- In order for a leader to be followed he or she needs to be able to show superior expertise in every aspect of business life.
- A Russian saying states “do not rush to carry out a task, as the task might change”.
- It is absolutely crucial to build up strong personal relationships before any employee is willing to trust a leader. Russia is a very young economy where a business code of conduct has not yet fully developed. Therefore only a personal relationship is trustworthy.
- The Russian language does not have a word for “plan”. The word that comes closest to its meaning translates into “hope”.
- Russians rely on destiny much more than Western Europeans. “Whatever you do in the present does not affect your future and whatever you have done in the past, does not affect your presence”.
- Due to the very cold winters, Russians used to work very hard in the summer in order to survive. This “work very hard” attitude has prevailed in society.
Dr. Retrovskaya’s closed her presentation with a controversial discussion about the “Russian employee” and his/her attitude.
In summary I have come to the conclusion that it is a challenge to work as an expatriate manager in Russia. If managed adequately however, the interaction with Russian employees can be very rewarding.
Modern and very clean production facilities, as well as a near-to-perfect trip organization by Lomonosov University are proof of valuable business opportunities in Russia.