A highly skilled workforce and comparatively high productivity has made Hungary a popular target for foreign investment, and in C3 Consulting we see a growing demand for Hungarian cultural training. Below, our Hungary Country Specialist Dániel Gergely Szabó introduces some key points when doing business in Hungary.
Good relationships go hand-in-hand with good business in Hungary.
This sounds like a universal truth in business life, but it is particularly true to Hungary. During Hungarian trainings I always get questions about why the Hungarian colleagues don’t do what they were told to do, sometimes even when they agreed to do so. I hear stories about Hungarian colleagues who are not even reacting to emails. About that when discussing the task with the Hungarian colleagues they are intensely nodding with approval, but when the deadline comes, the job is not done. Or maybe it is done, but in a completely different way than as was agreed.
Although this problem might have numerous causes, in a vast number of cases it can be captured in two words: power distance. Power distance means the distance between the subordinates and the bosses. This distance in Denmark is relatively small, bosses and subordinates are not divided by a barrier of authority, they communicate and cooperate with each other easily and freely.
The picture is very different in Hungary, due to the power distance bosses and subordinates don’t communicate as easily and freely as in Denmark.
Hungarian employees, as a general rule, don’t formulate opposing or even different opinions from their bosses. In Layman’s terms this simply means that in Hungary “yes” doesn’t always mean yes. Sometimes it does, but other times it means maybe, perhaps or, in extreme cases, no. To know what “yes” means, you have to build good relationships with the Hungarian colleagues.
My first suggestion would be to travel to Hungary and get to know the colleagues personally. You need to find a neutral topic, which you can discuss together with them. Try to make them feel comfortable and safe, which will help them open up and be more honest even in this high power distance situation. Like that you can ensure that “yes” does mean “yes” the next time around.
This high power distance has another effect. Because of it, it is also hard for the bosses to communicate openly with their subordinates. Bosses, as figures of authority, frequently have problems admitting that they were wrong. One of the usual tactics of admitting failure and saving face at the same time is to avoid mentioning the issue or project any more.
Therefore it is important for you to have a good relationship with your Hungarian subordinates and do pre-deadline follow-ups. If you have a good relationship with your Hungarian colleagues you can check up on them without making the situation awkward or uncomfortable, and at the same time ensure that they remember your project and the deadline.
Investing a little time in building relationships with your Hungarian colleagues now and doing pre-deadline follow-ups will save you from valuable time lost and a serious headache in the future. Think about it, it is really worth it.