From the ‘yes man’ mentality to the gap in business management. Here is what foreign managers think about Portugal

The huge gap between the best and the worst managers and the lack of feedback from workers are the main problems pointed out by foreign managers working in Portugal.

Foreign managers working in Portugal reveal that most domestic workers follow orders like no one else, which can sometimes be a problem, and say that in the country it is difficult to find good managers in intermediate positions in the companies. A view that was shared by Paul Van Rooji, Managing Director Kirchhoff Automotive Portugal, and Ludovic Reysset, Country Manager at Danone Portugal, in a conversation at FAE Talks.

“The best Portuguese managers are as good as the best English or French managers and the worst are also at the level of the worst American or Spanish managers,” revealed Ludovic Reysset, adding however that the big problem is that “in Portugal, there is a bigger gap between the best and the worst managers compared to other European countries.”

A view that is also shared by Paul Van Rooji, who stressed that this particular situation will make it “very difficult” and will end up “being a very slow process” to find good managers for intermediate sectors in national companies.

Moving from managers to workers, they both characterise them in the same way: dedicated to work but afraid to interact with company management, which turns out to be an obstacle.

“Respect for the hierarchy and the rules that come from the parent company are positive factors of the Portuguese and make foreign managers respect them a lot. On the other hand, there is a lack of feedback from these same workers,” explained the Country Manager of Danone Portugal.

A description that is reinforced by the Mananging Director of Kirchhoff Automotive, stating “the Portuguese are eager to work and to instil the standards of companies that come from outside” but in the national territory there is an “excess of the ‘yes man’ mentality” and therefore there is a “lack of feedback in Portugal” from the workers.

Beyond the ‘yes man’ mentality, Paul Van Rooij says that in the automotive sector many of the workers lack technical qualifications. “Unlike in Germany, in Portugal, the workers at the bottom do not have the necessary technical training. Generally, they are workers who have done a bit of everything and suddenly fall into our company and have to operate machines that are increasingly sophisticated and which require a higher degree of exigency,” he said.

Finally, the two managers leave a note of praise for the quality of life in the country, highlighting the hospitality of the population, security and climate. In Ludovic Reysset’s view, these factors make it “good to be a foreign manager in Portugal”.