World View: Focus on Turkey

Attendees may question every aspect of your training. If you havenメt created the training, be as knowledgeable about it as if you did.

By Sirin Köprücü, Senior Associate, Global Dynamics, Inc.

In the last 10 years, Turkey has emerged as a high-growth economy—resulting in income per capita exceeding $10,000 in the last six years. Turkish businesses have seized the moment and seek further growth not only in the big cities but also smaller cities across Anatolia, diversifying the headquarters origin of the top-performing 250 companies in Turkey. There is a strong push toward creating growth through an increase in exports and productivity. With the European markets in a significant slowdown, Turkish businesses are identifying new partners and markets in the Middle East, North Africa, Russia, Asia, and the U.S. This shift in markets comes with opportunities, as well as challenges. Businesses need to invest in training to work effectively across markets and improve productivity. On the other hand, education and training providers need to be aware of the needs of Turkish businesses to serve them at optimum levels.

Training Tips

As in many countries, there are at least two types of high-performing companies in Turkey. There are the Turkish affiliates of foreign global organizations such as Pfizer, Merck, Coca-Cola, Novartis, Bayer, and Toyota. And there are Turkish companies that range from Fortune 500 companies such as Koç, Sabanc?, Çukurova, and Ülker to smaller Turkish start-ups. Why is this important to know? One big reason is that the traditional Turkish management style is top down, and it is still prevalent even in bigger Turkish companies because many of these remain family owned although professionally managed. A more bottom-up, egalitarian style can be observed in the Turkish affiliates of foreign global organizations, depending on where their headquarters are located. However, it is also important to make the effort to understand the corporate culture of each client because many Turkish professionals are more and more educated in countries such as the U.S., UK, France, Germany, and Austria, and may bring the cultures of these countries into their work culture.

Other tips:

  • Take time to build credibility, trust, and respect. Compared to American culture, Turkish culture is a high-context culture. In order to participate in an interactive workshop, audiences must understand not only how the workshop will benefit them but also who you are as the trainer and where you are coming from. So be prepared to present or talk about your affiliations, ranging from your past experience and education to where you are originally from and your family ties. Another way of introducing yourself may be through a line manager or any other trusted third party who can make initial remarks on the value of the workshop and why you are the most suitable person/organization to deliver it.
  • Know your field. The Turkish education system is comprehensive and competitive. Parents teach their children the importance of education early on. As such, trainers are expected to know their fields well, answer questions in a competent way, and have strong command of their training environment. Attendees may question every aspect of your training. If you haven’t created the training, be as knowledgeable about it as if you did.
  • Create a trustful environment with a sense of humor. Small ice-breakers that will help attendees introduce themselves and your use of tactful humor can create a good rapport.
  • Encourage large and small group discussions. When trust is established, it is acceptable to demonstrate emotions—not necessarily anger but passion and enjoyment. That is why discussion is a great way of facilitating learning here. Additionally, Turkish participants feel a sense of pride when they can demonstrate their knowledge of a certain subject. However, make sure to tie discussions to next steps and the logic behind the training.
  • Engage through competitive exercises and experiential learning. When trust is established, competitive exercises such as quizzes and role-plays are welcome in the Turkish learning environment.
  • Be mindful of the responsibilities of managers and senior executives. The Turkish culture is a significantly hierarchical culture. Age, experience, and seniority are likely to bring the responsibility to guide and protect. Any situation that may create doubt about these capabilities of a manager may be annoying and embarrassing to him or her. Be prepared to hold separate workshops for managers and those professionals in nonsupervisory roles.

Sirin Köprücü is a senior associate with Global Dynamics, Inc. (, a training and development firm specializing in globalization, cultural intelligence, effective virtual workplaces, and diversity and inclusion. She specializes in cross-cultural training, especially between the U.S. and Turkey. She can be reached at 305.682.7883 or

Lorri Freifeld
Lorri Freifeld is the editor/publisher of Training magazine. She writes on a number of topics, including talent management, training technology, and leadership development. She spearheads two awards programs: the Training APEX Awards and Emerging Training Leaders. A writer/editor for the last 30 years, she has held editing positions at a variety of publications and holds a Master’s degree in journalism from New York University.