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How to Do Business in Poland


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Overview

Poland map picture Established as an independent nation in the middle of the 10th century, Poland reached its political and military zenith in the 16th before internal fighting combined with external influence provoked its partition. Poland briefly regained its independence in 1918 only to see it lost again following the invasion by German and Soviet troops in 1939. The end of the war saw Poland become a Soviet satellite state which lasted until the democratic party “Solidarity” (Solidarność), led by Lech Walesa, swept to power in 1990.

Krakow photo

The following years have seen significant economic, social and political reform culminating in Poland joining NATO in 1999 and the European Union in 2004.

A unique history and geography has shaped the customs and distinctive personality of the Polish people. Today, Poland emerges as a culturally rich and proud nation where the contemporary meets the traditional.

Working practices in Poland

Generally speaking, official working hours are from 8am to 4 pm, Monday to Friday with no official break for lunch. However, it is not uncommon for business lunches to take place around 4pm in Poland and continue well into the evening.

It is good business practice to arrive on time for business meetings in Poland. Although meetings often have no specific end time and can go on longer than planned, punctuality is vital for establishing your reliability.

When making a business appointment, you are advised to make it four to five days in advance and confirm the meeting the day before. Your Polish colleagues can be flexible and are often prepared to change schedules if necessary

Structure and hierarchy in Polish companies

  • Organisations in Poland have a strong respect for hierarchy and authority, with structure and delegation coming from above. This hierarchical style is reflected in many Polish business formalities and settings, including the decision making process and the use of professional titles.
  • Rules and regulations are an important part of the Polish business environment, therefore your Polish counterparts will expect you to know and appreciate established protocol and business etiquette.
  • Age and educational background often form the basis for corporate hierarchy. For this reason, when negotiating, it is advised to send delegates of a similar status to those of your Polish colleagues, both in age and professional qualifications.

Working relationships in Poland

  • When conducting business in Poland, in order to be successful, it is important to remember that relationships are a key factor. Building individual business relationships is essential to effectively achieve business objectives, especially when business will be conducted over a long period of time.
  • Responsibility and position are clearly defined within Polish organizations. Levels of seniority should be noted, and particular attention and respect must be paid to both older members of the company and those in senior roles.

Business practices in Poland

  • The exchanging of business cards is an accepted part of Polish business etiquette and should be done at the start of any initial meeting. Be sure to hand over your card first. Business cards printed in English are quite acceptable, so there is no need to translate them into Polish.
  • Business negotiations in Poland adopt a reserved and contemplative approach to settling deals. Extended periods of silence are not uncommon and are an essential part of negotiating. Therefore, you should try not to fill the silences with unnecessary talk and avoid pressing your Polish counterparts for final decisions.
  • In accordance with Polish business culture, it is customary to present your Polish counterparts with a small gift both at the beginning and the end of a business relationship. Appreciated items are generally those typical of your culture. Although, you should avoid giving overly expensive gifts as these may create the wrong impression.
  • It is customary to start business meetings in Poland with some introductory small talk. This allows you to become more acquainted with your Polish counterparts and establish an initial business rapport. Conversational topics may cover a wide range of issues, including public life, family and your work experience. However, the subject of money should be avoided.

Polish business etiquette (Do’s and Don’ts)

  • DO use personal titles where possible or the basic courtesy titles, Mr. (Pan) and Mrs. (Pani), followed by a surname or first name.
  • DO try to learn some basic Polish words and greeting phrases, for instance “hello,” “goodbye,” and “thank you.” Your Polish business contacts will welcome your efforts and perceive them as a gracious gesture.
  • DO smile and maintain direct eye contact during conversation with your Polish counterparts, as it helps to develop a feeling of trust with the people you are meeting. The Polish are particularly perceptive to nonverbal cues.
  • DON’T be surprised if after the first few business meetings your business partner engages in more friendly conversation with physical gestures such as backslapping. A more personal approach is preferred once initial relationships have been established.
  • DON’T over compliment your Polish business colleagues as it may create the impression that you are insincere in your business dealings.
  • DON’T try to disguise your feelings and emotions. Openness and honesty are qualities that your Polish colleagues will appreciate and it will help build trust for future business transactions.

Travel to and in Poland

You can travel to and within Poland by air, land, or sea. Most travelers arrive by air, and then take advantage of the numerous possibilities to see the country by land. If you fly into Poland, you will land either at Okecie Airport in Warsaw, Balice Airport in Krakow or Rebiechowo Airport in Gdansk. Warsaw’s Okecie International Airport stands testament to Poland’s renewed economy: it claims to be the most modern and safe airport in Central Europe and offers all sorts of useful services (car rental, travel agencies, a post office, a bank, restaurants, and shops). The other minor airports in Poland are: Poznan, Wroclaw, Szczecin, and Katowice. LOT Polish Airlines runs connecting flights between Warsaw and other major cities, but relatively few between those cities. Call ahead to confirm your flight schedule.

Poland is covered by a dense network of rail and coach services which provide easy access to almost any place you can find on the map. To find out more about train schedules, look at the Polish State Railway interactive timetable: www.rozklad.com

City transport

Buses, trams, trolleybuses, and the underground (only in Warsaw) make up the public transport system in Poland. Buses run on ordinary, fast and night lines. Tickets may be purchased at news-stands, some shops, sometimes from bus-drivers; they should be validated immediately upon boarding. Fare rates are different in different cities and tickets purchased in one city cannot be used in another. Various tickets are in use: one-fare day or night tickets, one-day, one-hour, or one-week passes, one-fare city or weekend group passes. Each piece of bulky luggage or a dog needs an additional ticket, the equivalent of a normal passenger fare. Steep on the spot fines are given fines for traveling or transporting bulky luggage without valid tickets.

Weather

Poland has a temperate changeable climate. In winter the temperatures vary from the mid 30’s to the low 60’s °F (-1 to -15°C). Spring starts in March with temperatures varying from 5 to 20°C, until about May or June. July is the hottest month, but the rest of the summer is also quite warm with temperatures ranging from the mid 70’s into the low 90’s °F (21 to 32 °C). Initially warm and balmy, September marks the beginning of Poland’s autumn. Thereafter, the days become more damp and foggy until December, when winter arrives and the temperature drops to a few degrees below zero. Characterized by abundant snowfall but with plenty of sunshine, Poland’s winter season caters for winter sports of all types. To check current weather conditions for Poland, click weather.yahoo.com

Money

Poland is not a member of the Euro currency system. The Polish currency is Zloty = 100 Groszy. To find out current exchange rates, please click www.xe.com.

Major foreign currencies may be exchanged for Polish Zlotys at the airport, banks, larger hotels and border crossings in unlimited amounts. Throughout the entire country there are also numerous private currency exchange offices identified by the name KANTOR. Banks in larger cities are usually open from 9am to 4pm on weekdays and until 1pm on Saturdays. Banks in smaller towns or villages have more limited business hours. KANTORs are usually open from 9am to 7pm weekdays and until 2pm on Saturdays. 24-hour services are usually available in larger major tourist centers such as train stations, border crossings and airports.

Electricity

220 volts, 50 Hz AC Euro socket style

Weights & measures

Metric

Tipping

It is customary to leave a tip of 10 to 15% in restaurants and cafes. Tipping in self-service restaurants is not expected. Tips for porter’s services in hotels and train stations are customary, but amounts for services rendered are at the traveler’s discretion.

Time

Poland runs on GMT plus 1 hour. So, you lose time if you fly from the west: 1 hour if departing from London. You gain time if you fly from the east: 7 hours if from Hong Kong, 3 if from Moscow, and 2 if from Israel. Poland usually counts time on a 24 hour clock, and the week starts on Monday.

Sources used

http://www.meetpoland.com/facts-about-poland.html

http://www.communicaid.com/poland-business-culture.asp








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