Taking Stock – Vive la difference in business life.

They are more social and more willing to adapt than their perfidious cousins over la manche, but when it comes to a head-to-head over the deeper matters of life and business, those philosophising French are all style over substance. That’s the message from a recent study by accountants Mazars Neville Russell of business attitudes towards employees on both sides of the Channel, and from sunny Spain for fair measure. Straight-talking John Bull corporate types emerge as short-termist with a strong emphasis on intellectual potential and technical expertise; while for the French cocktail talk and diplomacy are of more value than practical skills. Adaptability as well as interpersonal skills are key qualities for French executives – 48% said fitting in was a decisive quality compared to only 24% in the UK. ‘In the UK, it’s expertise that counts, with everything else less important,’ said John Mellows, UK senior partner at the top 30 firm. ‘Companies in the UK are recruiting specialists expecting them to be productive immediately and consider their ability to adapt and form a bond with the company of secondary importance.’ La difference also extends to business confidence, with the Brits far more secure about their skills than their French counterpart apart from, perhaps, in matters of labour relations. However, almost everyone surveyed either side of the Channel said an ideal manager was able to inspire and orchestrate his (sic) team’s work … Now, there’s the real divide.

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