Doing Business In Sweden
What’s “hygge” for the Danes is “omtanke” for the Swedes. It means that you think about how you can do something good for others. Harmonious coexistence is one of the most important aspect of Swedish business culture.
Swedes like to ensure that everyone feels relaxed at all times. That is why the Swedish working life generally appears to be quite calm: people speak calmly, work calmly and negotiate calmly.
It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that no one is disadvantaged. Fairness is of paramount importance.
Omtanke As Management Principle
Consequently, omtanke is the prevailing management principle. One of the main tasks of a team leader, for example, is to ensure that all team members are happy, because they are treated fairly, there are good working conditions, a harmonious working atmosphere and even a nice room for shared coffee breaks. Thus, a team leader is seen more as a team coach than a leader with the power to make all the decisions.
Consensus Leads To Acceptance
In Sweden, teams reach decisions together – by consensus. This requires a lot of meetings and a lot of talking until all are in agreement. People from abroad often find the Swedish decision-making-process rather time consuming and inefficient. They miss some clearly marked hierarchies and authorities.
Swedes, however, see big advantages in finding consensus first: any new idea or project is internalised by the team and accepted by everyone before it is implemented.
Don’t Think That You Are Any Better
The Swedish consensus culture is ultimately based on the principle that all people are equal. No one should feel more successful or more important than anyone else and set themselves apart accordingly. That is why Swedes actively practice equality in every meeting or negotiation; everyone should feel equally good – in life as well as in business!
So if you are coming from a business culture that values hierarchies, clearly defined decision-making processes and power structures, you should develop a new crosscultural skillset first, which will allow you to be equally successful within a typical Swedish working environment!
Business Culture Guide - Sweden
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