How to build business relationships with the Dutch, Swedes, and Indians?

Work at an international company is part of many people’s daily lives, while to others that would be a dream come true. Linda Zetmane, head of the Personnel Department at Tele2 Shared Service Center, tells us what it actually means to work at an international company and collaborate with colleagues from other countries and cultures.

English is the working language at the company as employees have to talk to their colleagues in other countries on a daily basis. Zetmane points out that in most cases they have to work with colleagues from Sweden, the Netherlands, and India, to support business in these or other countries. In India, consultants provide outsourcing services, which is why cooperation with these consultants is done either remotely or consultants from India work in the office in Riga. At the moment, more than 650 people work at Tele2 SSC in Riga, of which 11 represent countries beyond the European Union – Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, and Uzbekistan.

In cooperating with the Dutch, you have to take into consideration that there are comparatively many meetings taking place during the day, which means people are not always easy to reach. The Dutch prefer to discuss and reach agreement on one or another assignment on Skype or on the phone – emails are secondary. They are very punctual about deadlines, and expect others to meet their deadlines too. The Dutch are very competent and professional, and they can get their point across. To maintain good business relationship, one should do his or her work on time, or warn the colleagues in the Netherlands if things are not going as planned.

The Swedes are very polite – they advocate equality at work, respect for every person’s work and culture he or she represents. Therefore they expect others to be polite, interested and amiable also. The Swedes don’t like when somebody is criticized, they rather focus on the problem at hand and solving it. They also don’t like showoffs. In cross-border communications, Swedes are best reached by phone or email, while individual meetings are best held over a cup of coffee.

When working with the Indians, you have to remember that they may be very shy, for instance, they will hesitate to ask any questions even if they have failed to understand a request or instructions. In communicating with colleagues from India, questions should be structured so that they could not be answered by a brusque “yes” or “no”, which makes communication complicated. The Indians respect hierarchy – they expect managers to be very knowledgeable and interested in work done by every employee. The Indians work a lot, more than eight hours a day and without vacations, but they have a lot of festivals and religious observances. To successfully cooperate with Indians, you should show interest in them and their culture, and appreciate their achievements. The Indians, just like the Swedes, don’t like if somebody is publicly criticized.