Tyske Stephan Dűrr kom till Ryssland som praktikant för 24 år sedan. Sedan dess har han varit rådgivare åt ryska staten när det gäller försäljning av jordbruksmark och sedan 2002 äger och driver han företaget EkoNiva, europas största distributör av John Deere jordbruksutrustning.
|Stephan Durr, bild MT|
What is your secret to successfully managing people and business in Russia?
In terms of sourcing staff, I favor a mix of locals and a few foreigners. It's difficult to do without any foreigners because they help generate new ideas, but too many of them is bad. I say they are like salt in a soup: a little is good, but too much spoils it. Many companies make the mistake of bringing in lots of foreigners and hoping they will resolve every problem. Nothing of the sort!
Secondly, I place my bets chiefly on youth, but I believe the older generation has to be involved, too. There has to be a mix of high potential and experience.
Also, never be arrogant here. Nobody likes that, but Russians have a special dislike for it. This country requires additional leadership, you have to bang on the table and say, "We are doing it this way!" This doesn't mean I am not trying to introduce democratic management: You simply need to think and make decisions on your own.
A Russian would say, "What if I am wrong?" If you are wrong, it is bad. "What if I am wrong again?" That's very bad, and if you are wrong the third time, you will be shown the door. But you can't make no decision at all. It's difficult to delegate responsibility, but I'm making progress little by little.
With Russians, if they take your ideas to heart, you can move mountains. Germans are colder and more shrewd. They walk steadily — you won't climb a high mountain with them, but you also won't fall. Russians can work nights and weekends, Germans wouldn't. What we did to create the business in Russia would have been impossible to do with Germans.
Often I hear people say the legal system doesn't work. I think it does. But there are peculiarities. The principle here is 'form over substance.' In Germany, it is 'substance over form.' There, if it's obvious that we agreed on something, especially if we have a witness, we do not need a written agreement. In Russia, an agreement is not worth much if it is not on paper, has the right stamp and the signature is from an authorized person.
Another thing that many can't grasp is the lack of proportionality. If a company with revenues of $10 billion is late on a $1,000 payment to the tax office, the taxman will immediately consider asking a court to seize the company's accounts. A Russian judge would not hesitate to issue an order to that effect. A German judge wouldn't do that.
One more thing that is absent here is the notion of win-win. If I make one ruble, and you make 3 rubles, I can live with that. In Russia, it's considered bad business. It's better that I make half a ruble and you make nothing. I think it's getting better, but it still hampers business a lot. In a typical Russian business, one should win, and the other lose.