The relations between Norway and Ukraine originate from the period of Kievan Rus. Many Norwegian kings and nobles lived at the Kyiv Court and participated in the battles for new lands. The common history lasted for several centuries and influenced a lot on the relationships between Ukraine and Norway. It is very interesting that due to historical events these countries have much in common in culture, traditions, etc. Two peoples who at first glance seems to be widely different from each other, are actually similar. So what are the differences and the similarities between Norwegian and Ukrainian cultures? And what do we do in Outstaffing AS for culture integration?
According to one of the theories, the founder of Kievan Rus was Prince Rurik who is considered to be of Scandinavian origin. Today it is already established that the first Scandinavian rulers were Askold and Dir, who arrived from Novgorod to Kiev. After that many Vikings also arrived on Ukrainian lands. Here they either became individual merchants or were engaged in foreign trade.
There are more links between the history of Norway and the history of Ukraine because during the reign of Vladimir the Great, the Norwegian king Olav Trygvasson was brought up at the Kiev court. But the most significant fact of the common history was the marriage of Harald Hardraade and daughter of Yaroslav the Wise Elizabeth in 1045. The friendly relations between Norway and Ukraine have remained to this day.
At first sight, Norwegian and Ukrainian national costumes have nothing in common. But that’s not exactly true. For example, in Ukraine, as in Norway, the national costume may differ and has its own features depending on the region. Also on the blouses of national costumes of both countries, there is embroidery, which plays a special role. It symbolizes different things that are important to the peoples, reflects the preferences of religion, talks about the region. It is believed that it is embroidery that serves as a talisman, protection against misfortunes, and also prophecies luck, wealth and other benefits.
There are many holidays both in Norway and in Ukraine. But if we are talking about so-called bank holidays (when it is a day off), there are more such holidays in Ukraine. But in general, the working days are the same in both countries.
Norwegian and Ukrainian cuisines are very different. In Norway, cold appetizers, as well as sandwiches, are more popular. Moreover, sandwiches in this country are a certain art. They are completely different, and the combination of ingredients is sometimes very surprising. And if in Norway the warm meal is usually one time per day, Ukraine is famous for its hot dishes. Especially there are many kinds of soups in Ukrainian cuisine. If we talk about similarity, then both cuisines are united by a big variety of fish dishes. The main thing is everyone’s favorite herring with potatoes.
It is not typical for Norwegians to have bursts of activity, they are known to be commonly calm, somehow phlegmatic and reserved. They are honest, practical, prudent and self-confident people. Restraint in talking and quietness are highly appreciated by Norwegians as opposed to extravagance and chattiness.
On the contrary, in Ukraine, people really like socializing; they do not feel shy to touch personal topics in conversation, which is not always appropriate. Also, unlike self-sufficient Norwegians, Ukrainians love teamwork and delegate authority in the most specified manner. If in Norway one person can be in charge of everything, in Ukraine each and every employee is most likely to have their own specific functions for which they are held responsible.
There are also differences in relationships between management and employees. In Norway, everyone is more or less equal, the director of a company can sit in the same area with his/her subordinates, have lunch together and so on. In Ukraine, there is often a clear differentiation of groups depending on a position held: a boss almost always sits in a separate office, senior managers also work in a separate place. However, if we talk specifically about companies in the IT sector, in Ukraine they are already closer to the European standards of business conduct and personnel management.
There are also certain differences in the interaction of a head, teams, and employees with each other. In Norway, tasks are given briefly, which sometimes leads to many questions. But it’s commonly believed that each employee should be independent and take responsibility for the means they choose to complete a task, as well as for their result. In Ukraine, a task is set as specifically as it is possible, where all stages and nuances are written in details. This enables to get the best possible result, but such detailed elaboration of the process is very time-consuming. Norwegians are more relaxed in this respect. Also in Norway, managers rarely give negative feedback to an employee directly, and when they do, they will do it as tactfully as possible, and it will not sound like criticism. For Ukraine, it is common to be as straightforward and open in assessing as possible, so if a task is completed in the wrong way, one will be told about it in no uncertain terms with explaining specifically what was wrong. And if not considering the emotional part, this method has a very positive influence on work efficiency, and also enables to avoid certain mistakes and improve the results in the future.
At Outstaffing AS there are representatives of Norwegian and Ukrainian cultures. And we consider this to be our bargaining chip and key to success. As we are not struggling with differences between two mentalities. On the contrary, we are successfully reconciling the two cultures. It allows us to use the best and most important strengths to make work efficient. We have Norwegian language courses for Ukrainian employees, which help them to better understand the Norwegian culture and values. The company also organizes business trips so that our Norwegian clients and Ukrainian employees can meet, get to know each other and create a close-knit team. Each employee feels a part of the client’s company; this motivates employees to work efficiently and do their best to bring the best result for their company and team. Thanks to the interaction of two cultures, Outstaffing AS is an effective Norwegian business and strong Ukrainian team morale, experienced Norwegian managers and highly motivated and qualified Ukrainian employees.