Flat hierarchy

Flat hierarchy

Danish companies are known to have a very flat hierarchical structure. People relate to one another as equals regardless of job titles and formal positions.
Managers and employees address each other by their first names and most decisions are discussed in forums where all employees have an equal say. At lunch, you will find managers and employees sitting at the same table talking openly about their private lives and pursuits. The conversation often revolves around family life, holidays and what they do in their spare time.
In the typical Danish workplace, everyone is encouraged to contribute with ideas and professional opinions regardless of title or status. Moreover, everyone relevant is always involved in making decisions.
This means that the general atmosphere in a Danish workplace is professional, but also casual and informal. Many workplaces have what resembles a flat management hierarchy, which means it is more than normal to take up issues directly with the CEO. It is allowed to contradict or criticize managers.
Danes address each other by their first name, regardless of positions. Students also address their lecturers by their first name.

 

Team collaboration

In Denmark there is a long standing tradition where focus at a workplace is geared towards teamwork and team collaboration. This means that as an employee, you are part of a team which includes group evaluations and team discussions. At the same time, you can achieve your responsibilities independently, in the most efficient way.

This way of working together is based on trust. Your team members or your manager will not micromanage you or see how you are coming along with work. They trust that the work will be done within the agreed timelines unless informed otherwise. Some internationals also describe the work culture in Denmark as being very informal compared to what they are used to.
Danes hold many meetings to facilitate the free flow of communication and secure unity, common understanding and consensus in the workforce. In addition to this, Danes believe in informal knowledge sharing. This means Danes eat lunch together and hold coffee breaks during the day to socialize and discuss both private and work related topics.

 

Asking questions

For some internationals, asking questions can be challenging especially if you come from a culture that is top-down driven.
In Denmark, we believe in the saying: “There are no stupid questions, only stupid answers.” So do not hesitate to ask your employer, if you might have questions regarding work or how to proceed with a task.
Asking questions or giving critical comments is considered showing your commitment and taking responsibility.
When dealing with a problem/an issue Danes approach this in a direct manner. The message is the most important, leaving Danes to be less sensitive to the tone and wording. Focus is on "what" and not "how". Criticism is regarded as help to improve a product. The feedback is frequently used at meetings and in relations between workers and worker/manager.

 

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