I would like to say that those are what my students shared with me, not my own viewpoint.
1. Vietnamese are very relaxed
Vietnamese people seem to be very relaxed in working. They work well when nobody put any pressure on them. They also start work and finish work on time. At the end of working day, no matter how much work they have left, they left the office on time.
2. Taking a nap after lunch is very normal in Vietnam
This can be the result from the weather in a tropical climate which makes people sleepy in the afternoon. They can sleep at the desk or in a very limited space in the office. One of my American students shared that he felt very weird when he saw his staff bringing a pillow to the office for sleeping after lunch. He wondered “Why so many people sleep in the office? They sleep at their desks, on the ground, everywhere.”
Do you know what he told me after a few months working with Vietnamese? This is what he says, “I should encourage my staff to take a short nap at noon (and he laughed), (but short) because I recognize that they work better the rest of the day if they take a nap”.
3. Smiling doesn’t mean that “I understand”
Vietnamese smile a lot even though they may not understand what you’ve said. In order to avoid the problems at work, a written instruction should be given after talking to your staff.
4. Many managerial people can be a “giám đốc”
With expats and with Viet Kieu as well, there are some confusion of the word “giám đốc” in Vietnamese working environment. I think that there are more words describing managerial positions in English than in Vietnamese (supervisor, manager, boss, CEO, director, president, the head of...., etc. )
In Vietnam, “giám đốc” can be a director, a manager, the head of (department), CEO, etc. Is it true? Let’s take the business cards of Vietnamese and look at both sides (Vietnamese and English). A lot of Vietnamese misconcept of director, manager, CEO, director, .... and this can be seen on their business cards.
Here are proper Vietnamese equivalents for some English titles:
Supervisor : giám sát viên
Manager : giám đốc, người quản lý
Director : giám đốc
Business owner: chủ doanh nghiệp
The head of marketing department: trưởng phòng marketing
CEO: giám đốc cấp cao
President: chủ tịch