Masculine vs feminine culture in Romanian companies

A masculine culture promotes values like assertiveness, heroism, social recognition, success and material rewards. Conversely, in a feminine culture, most appreciated values are consensus, cooperation, modesty, life quality and care for the weak

“Masculine” cultures are USA, the German-speaking world, Ireland, United Kingdom, Mexico and Italy. “Feminine” cultures are the Netherlands, Spain, Thailand, Korea, Portugal, the Middle East, and West Africa. On a 0 to 100 scale, Romania scores 42 which makes it more characterized by a moderate feminine culture.

It is interesting to see what countries score at the extremes: Japan is the world’s most masculine society, with a rating of 95, while Sweden is the most feminine society, with a rating of 5. This is not the article to correlate happiness to femininity, as we all know that Swedish rank among the happiest people in the world, but it would be an interesting topic to explore 🙂

Going back to our country, the moderate feminine culture is visible through some specific behaviours.

Behavior #1

You will hear many times Romanian managers saying: “we take care of all employees in our company … yes, there may be some who do not perform that well, but we don’t treat them differently. It’s been like this forever and this is because we have a people centric type of culture.”

Approach #1

I often advise managers in this situation to make the distinction between “people oriented” and “valuable people oriented”. These would be the people who add VALUE to the company, while also sharing the good VALUES of the company culture with the clients and the community. They should focus their team’s attention on performance, clarify what good performance means, measure it consistently, make it visible, reward it, teach them how to give and receive feedback along the way. One day, it will become obvious who’s a contributor and who’s not. The new way of looking at performance through the lens of facts and data will make the discussion much easier even with the low performers.

Behavior #2

Ever been in one of those meetings where people talk, talk, talk and they talk some more, without taking any decision? I bet you have. This happens because of fear of jeopardizing the consensus and the cooperation in the team so we are trying to be as inclusive as possible, without taking any kind of decision that might harm any member of the team. Therefore, from a good intention of not wanting to disturb the harmony, we fail at being agile in taking decisions. 

Approach #2

Communicate clearly what are the end results expected from the meeting, including needed decisions, and drive the conversation so that each member of the team expresses an opinion, this being the main expectation for their presence in that meeting ?. Clarify and summarize what has been said and get the agreement on the decisions made.

Behavior #3

In contrast with the above, a team in a masculine culture argues a lot, sometimes even in contradiction with basic logic. What is important in this case is to win the debate, no matter how. Winning becomes more important than anything.

Approach #3

Give up the idea of reaching a consensus. Most of the time, such meetings become “battlefields” for ego fights where the alpha-type people need to take control of the group. Take the sensitive topics offline, in one-on-one discussions. When you need them to reach a goal, instead of trying to team them up, build on their competitive nature and make them thrive in their quest of achieving a specific goal. I need to admit that such teams are great for bringing short term results, but in the long run they are important factors for toxic environments.

In a nutshell, when trying to understand if a business culture is masculine or feminine, try to observe what motivates people: wanting to be the best (Masculine) or enjoying being comfortable the most (Feminine).

Reference: “The Psychology of the Romanian People”, by Prof Daniel David