Argumentative discussions are not looked on favourably. People take both criticisms and arguments very personally, and you may have a major disagreement on your hands if you adopt a conflict approach. It’s always preferable to try a consensus-based approach and get people working together to solve a problem. Remember, the Finns are very much like the Asians in respect of «face» saving. They are deep thinkers and don’t show much emotion, so you could easily upset them and not know it.
One Finnish managing director with a subsidiary in Sweden shocked his Swedish employees by telling them they had to «pull their socks up» and become more productive. The employees could not believe they were being spoken to in such a fashion. They were not used to it. That is not the way to do things in Sweden, but it is the Finnish way!
One Swedish businessman I know who has worked all over the world refers to «Finnish efficiency» as being one of this nation’s strong points. This is their ability to make decisions quickly and get on with implementation effectively. A Finnish manager is more production orientated than people orientated, especially compared with his Swedish counterpart. There is always an informal relationship between the boss and the workers, and senior managers/bosses are approachable in a way that would be impossible in southern Europe. Because the Finns are straight talking, they can be very frank when they need to tell people when things are going wrong.
Finnish managers are well liked abroad. They never try to «impose» their will on anyone. They listen first—to everyone— at all levels of the organisation and willingly believe that others might know best. When it comes to working abroad they have a very pragmatic approach; adopt, adapt, improve. It seems to suit everyone well.