By Jose J. Ruiz
First, in Mexico, the management style tends to be more paternalistic than in the United States because they place more importance to hierarchy and structure. It translates to authoritative leadership style, where a leader must show sufficient control, honor, and the final say. However, the manager is also expected to be warm and friendly at the same time.
Second, the communication style in Mexico is warm, loyal, reciprocal, and clear. Loyalty and warmth are reflected in the manager’s genuine caring demeanor toward the subordinates. Being clear is especially true when giving out instructions, as most Mexican workers expect to follow instructions without any further discussion. When being persuasive, focus on your perspective rather than on logical arguments.
Third, in Mexican culture, being criticized may be considered “losing face,” thus criticism and feedback should be provided politely and clearly. The manager should also be clear on what went wrong and who made a mistake, since otherwise blaming may occur. Handle feedback delicately, so it would not be considered an “insult.”
Fourth, Mexicans are more group-oriented and relationship-oriented, rather than individualistically-oriented. It is also called being more communal. Therefore, in Mexican workplaces, group rewards are more motivating than individual rewards. It would be preferred that the forms of incentive are financial, status, and praise.
Fifth, familial and close relationships are paramount in the Mexican culture. Close friends and colleagues are considered “family.” A strong manager must understand this and expects to manage his “family” team members as a “parent” or “older sibling” figure. Be sensitive to seniority, social class, and age. Sincerity means a lot in fostering a good relationship.
Sixth, be positive, express emotions, indirect, and formal when communicating with Mexican workers. Most Mexicans are Catholic, and one of their favorite phrases is “God willing,” which may sound fatalistic. However, for the purpose of good communication, refrain from being too analytical with theological concepts. In everyday conversations, it only means “I will do my best.”
Seventh, on business cards, include titles and degrees whenever possible. This would reflect your intellect and seniority, which is key to earning respect. Social classes and distinctions are considered important in Mexican culture, thus if you have them, you are encouraged to show them, as long as you express them politely and with dignity.
Eighth, business attire in Mexico is more formal than in the United States. Thus, pack more formal clothes rather than semi-casual ones. Managers are expected to carry themselves with much authority, therefore, make sure to have clean and well-ironed business suits, pants, and skirts.
At last, as a manager, you will notice that many of your subordinates would tend to say what you would like to hear, rather than telling the factual truth. Among workers, sympathy and solidarity mean more to them than being objective. Most American managers find this trait of Mexican workers quite baffling.
Managing an offshore team in Mexico is both a rewarding and challenging position. As long as you do your research in advance to understand the leadership and communication styles better, you should be fine.
ABOUT JOSE J. RUIZ
Jose Ruiz serves as Alder Koten’s Chief Executive Officer providing vision, strategic direction and the roadmap for the executive recruiting firm’s future. He is also involved in executive search work focused on board members, CEOs and senior-level executives; and consulting engagements related to leadership and organizational effectiveness helping clients create thriving cultures. An important part of his time is spent on research work focused on organizational effectiveness centered on leadership and culture. Prior to joining Alder Koten, Jose was a Principal with Heidrick & Struggles’ Global Industrial Practice based in Houston, TX and Monterrey, Mexico. His professional experience also includes leadership positions in engineering and operations management for manufacturing organizations in the US and Mexico. This experience includes serving as vice president and general manager at Holley Performance Products. Jose serves on the board of Shelmex and on America’s Council of the Association of Executive Search Consultants where he also chairs the Boutique and Independent Search Firm Forum.
Jose holds a master’s degree in organizational leadership from Gonzaga University and a bachelor’s degree in mechanical and electrical engineering from the Instituto Technologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey. He is fluent in English and Spanish.
Jose can be reached at jose.ruiz@alderkoten or at his office in Houston +1 (713) 476–9000
ABOUT ALDER KOTEN
Alder Koten has recruiters and research teams in Mexico and the United States. The firm was founded in 2011. Its headquarters are located in Houston and it has offices in Guadalajara, Monterrey, and Mexico City with partner firms in New York, Boston, Chicago, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Hong Kong, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and United Kingdom. Alder Koten recruiters serve multiple industries including automotive, building products, construction & projects, consumer markets, energy & chemicals, equipment & industrial products, financial services, life sciences, medical devices, maquiladora, mining & metals, professional services, renewable resources, technology, and transportation & logistics. The firm is a proud standing member of the Association of Executive Search Consultants. The Association of Executive Search Consultants was founded in 1959 as the Association of Executive Recruiting Consultants (AERC) for the dual purposes of creating a professional association for the most competent and reputable search firms, and for providing clients and prospective clients a means by which to differentiate qualified and ethical practitioners.