FAQ: Dealing with Slovaks

What are the specifics of the Slovak labour market that foreigners might find surprising?

Illustrative stock photoIllustrative stock photo (Source: Sme)

The answers were prepared based on the responses of Dana Blechová (managing partner, Blechova Management Consulting); Luboš Sirota (chairman of the board, McROY Group); Marek Chrastina (managing partner, TRIGON Consulting); Sergio Duarte (country manager, Adecco Slovakia); Martin Marek (managing partner, Balanced HR), and Ivana Molnárová (executive director, Profesia).

What should I expect when communicating with Slovak partners?
How do Slovaks react to changes?
What are the specifics of corporate culture in Slovak companies?
What ethical principles do Slovaks adhere to while doing business in Slovakia?
What are the specifics of the Slovak labour market that foreigners might find surprising?
What should I expect from Slovaks as employees?

Q: What should I expect when communicating with Slovak partners?
A: Slovaks want to create and maintain good relationship with their business partners, in the long run even friendship. But even after many years of cooperation you should not expect complete loyalty, especially if your Slovak business partner is offered a much lower price from the competition. Slovaks are not always punctual for meetings. Slovaks without international experience might have problems to create an equal partner relationship, often lack healthy self-confidence and a global viewpoint, or even communication skills. Slovaks are not always politically correct and diplomatic, and are not masters of small talk.

Due to the specifics of the Slovak business environment, local companies tend to be over-cautious and suspicious towards new business partners. They are used to dealing with their issues “unofficially”, relying on personal contacts. They might take longer to build mutual trust. In general, however, Slovaks are ready to adjust to the new rules and be reliable partners.

The typical Slovak features used to be low self-confidence, lower acceptance of risk, lack of a global dimension in business, focus on content rather than attractive presentation and low flexibility to move for business. With the new generation now arriving to business, this is changing. There are no specific traditions about structure or phases of business negotiations the way we know it from Asia. Slovak companies are generally seen as producing good quality and being consistent in keeping agreements.

Q: How do Slovaks react to changes?
A: The older generation is more cautious and loyal to employers or business partners, while the young generation is much more self-confident, flexible, and not easily scared by changes.

Q: What are the specifics of corporate culture in Slovak companies?
A: Most companies are struggling with introducing some official corporate culture, like clear vision and mission of the company, and many haven’t managed to do so yet. Those tend to act ad hoc and spontaneously when dealing with a problem.

There are still companies where the pre-1989 culture is felt, or somewhere the specifics of the 1990s persist. But nowadays most companies have already achieved a professional level where owners respect and value their people and the employees in turn respect and value their customers.

Q: What ethical principles do Slovaks adhere to while doing business in Slovakia?
A: Slovak companies have come a long way in respecting ethical standards in recent years. They realise that damage to reputation is hard to repair in business. Many companies have come up with codes of ethics. Companies do not tend to harm their clients and keep contracts and agreements.

Q: What are the specifics of the Slovak labour market that foreigners might find surprising?
A: Generally foreign employers are satisfied here. The qualities they value about Slovaks include the willingness to work hard and return good results. On the other hand, they often have to cope with Slovaks’ lacking initiative and willingness to have their say in business issues. Foreigners also note the lack of openness in communication and willingness to take responsibility among Slovaks.

Q: What should I expect from Slovaks as employees?
A:
Slovaks tend to maintain informal and even friendly relationships with their colleagues at work. They need good atmosphere and interpersonal relations, and they talk about their private matters at work. This might affect the productivity of their work sometimes. They are also emotive when it comes to feedback, and find it difficult not to take critical feedback personally. On the other hand, they are ready to work long hours if needed and return good results. They tend to be less assertive and are unlikely to fight for their employee rights.

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Theme: Corporate Responsibility

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