Vietnamese Workplaces and Habits
Understanding Vietnamese workplaces is vital for integration and success. Of course, the following are generalisations and stereotypes, but they indicate the behaviours that are fostered in most companies:
- Men continue to dominate the Vietnamese business world, though things are changing.
- Women working in Vietnam traditionally occupy lower-status jobs, but they tend to work harder.
- Most men are able to work with foreign women in more senior roles and will treat them equally.
- Status is an important aspect of Vietnam’s business world and society. It is achieved not through age alone but also through education.
- Companies function in a hierarchical manner.
- Generally speaking, the older generation is more loyal than the younger generations.
- Decisions are made at the top and the decision maker is often the oldest, though this is also changing.
- Vietnamese are respectful of their colleagues, especially those senior in age.
- Business relationships take time to develop as Vietnamese prefer to get to know their foreign counterparts before conducting business.
- Vietnamese names start with the surname followed by the middle and lastly the first name. It is important to use titles whenever possible.
- When referring to one another, Vietnamese people will use the appropriate title followed by the first name.
- The nap after lunchtime is a cultural norm and is counted as part of the total working hours. It raises staff efficiency, allowing them to return to work refreshed and refocused.
- It is common for senior managers to be out of the office enhancing their ‘personal’ relationships and conducting ‘social’ intercourse on a daily basis.
- Disregard of personal responsibility and accountability is a major problem. You cannot rely on diplomas alone to establish someone’s competency.
- Trying to reduce work pressure and creating a friendly and relaxing office atmosphere is great.
- Vietnamese institutions often do not select the best and brightest, but rather their family members or closest friends.
- Business relationships are relatively formal.
- Disagreements are handled in a subtle manner, and if you adopt this, you will likely find it effective.
- Chatting or sharing a snack with colleagues is part and parcel of office life.
- Most Vietnamese would benefit from coaching in phone manners when introducing themselves on the phone.
- If a colleague (or a colleague’s family member) is sick, Vietnamese people will take the time to visit, usually bringing along a small gift.
- Vietnam is well known for its disciplined, hard-working and fast-learning population. Still, sometimes you may need to repeat things more than once. Make sure your message is well understood.
- Remember that family is very important here, and you should enquire from time to time about your colleagues’ families.
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