Poland: Management In A Feminine Style

Last Updated: 2 February 2018
Article by Patrycja Strzelecka

Patrycja Strzelecka, Managing Director of TMF Poland, talks to Harvard Business Review about her experiences in leadership within a large organisation, and the 'female style' of management.

What is the share of women on company boards in Poland? What factors affect this size?

Research by Deloitte and the Women Leadership in Business Foundation shows that in 2015, companies listed on the WSE main market had 12.05% of women on management boards and 14.49% women on supervisory boards. Since then, the situation has practically remained unchanged. In 2017 in Poland, women had a 15.2% participation rate on supervisory boards and they were the top managers on 6.3% of boards out of 480 main market-listed companies.

I definitely see an increase in the participation of women in company management positions in Poland. There are an increasing number of young, highly-qualified women in medium and high-level roles. We still have some way to go to reach equality with men at board level, but this I believe, is due to both the stereotypical perception of "a woman's place" in an organisation persisting, and the typically lower self-confidence of many women that means they don't push as hard or as frequently for vertical progression within their organisations. 

What styles of leadership and management do we see from women in Polish companies?

Women in Poland tend to have a democratic, cooperative style of leading. Their participative style involves conversation, active listening and providing feedback. However I don't want to generalise because I've seen during my professional career very autocratic women as well. Ultimately the management styles of women in Poland are influenced by their personalities. What counts is the ultimate result: motivated employees and the financial performance of the company. A democratic leadership style is good if the leader reaches the set targets. On the other hand, a strong task-oriented style is also fine if the leader is able to build a motivated team of people. And this is regardless of gender.

The majority of female leaders and managers are highly educated and knowledgeable. It's not uncommon for women to lack self-confidence, and many look to continually improve their skills in order to increase their legitimacy and help build their authority. The professional success of women in Poland is determined by the good opinion of their co-workers and superiors.

You manage a large organisation. How is your management style different from that of a man in the same position?

My management style is more participative and transformational than that of a male. I have less of a "command and control" style. I provide direction, but I also encourage employees to empower themselves to reach their goals. I encourage them to make decisions without a fear of making mistakes.

At TMF Poland, we employ more than 400 female accountants and payroll specialists, and I'm proud to say they have a real impact on our business. My team is as motivated to reach our goals as I am. I want our employees to feel valued so I put a lot of emphasis on respect, which is also one of the key values of TMF Group. I believe I am fair and attentive – but at the same time I demand results and operational excellence.

How do you assess your business activity and the labour market in Poland from a female perspective?

It's an employees' market in Poland. There is a continuously high demand for skilled staff, as evidenced in TMF Group's 'Insight into multi-country outsourced services trends' report: 83% of Chief HR Officers said finding the right talent was a critical issue. I believe this situation is advantageous for women, particularly young mothers looking to remain in the workforce and those seeking more work-life balance. Employers are more amendable to flexible working hours and part-time contracts in order to secure the right talent.

What changes will affect business in Poland in 2018, and how?

TMF Poland's expertise is in tax, accounting and payroll regulatory changes impacting businesses, and so this is what I will focus on.

  • In the field of labour law, businesses should be aware of changes relating to the wider protection connected to parenthood and broader possibility to claim compensation for incidents at work.
  • In relation to taxes, major changes include the JPK obligation for micro-entrepreneurs, minimising the transfer of profits to other countries, regulations that will counteract tax optimisation and the introduction of the so-called "split payment", ie. a separate account for an entrepreneur splitting their net amount from VAT.
  • An important change in data protection provisions is coming, with the implementation of the European Union's (GDPR) in Poland, the aim of which is to ensure more effective compliance with data protection rules.

Hear more from Patrycja at this upcoming event:  Mastering the challenges of payroll management in Europe, 7 February 2018 in Amsterdam.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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