At Work in Canada: Tips for the Professional Integration of Expat Managers

Relocating to Canada as a manager may require some adjustment on your part, especially if you come from outside the Anglo-Saxon world. Professional relationships in Canada, much like any other type of social interaction, are solidly grounded on the principles of non-confrontation and non-discrimination. The “politically correct” must be your guideline at all times.

Here are a few tips and reminders that should help you adjust smoothly to your new position as a manager in Canada.

The 8 to 5

The normal day at work is from 8am to 5pm. As a manager, you are expected to arrange your employees’ workload accordingly, and establish reasonable deadlines they can actually meet. As for yourself, the non-observance of the “8 to 5” may be tolerated so long as it doesn’t create a precedent, which would be frowned upon by your co-workers. Respecting the corporate culture is a key factor of your professional integration in Canada.

Sandwich communication

Relocating as a manager to Canada, you will have to adapt your communication technique. Organizations are more horizontal than hierarchical, and you must always be tactful and positive in your remarks. Highlight your employees’ achievements regularly, and don’t appear to take them for granted. If you happen to be dissatisfied with someone’s work, speak to them using the “sandwich” technique: start by saying something positive about their work or attitude, then insert your negative comment, and finish with something positive again. Any violent confrontation, even if it’s only verbal, will be considered a serious fault on your part.

Psychological harassment

Professional relationships in Canada are based on trust and partnership. As a manager, you must be careful to establish and maintain an atmosphere of confidence, so that your employees work free from pressure, bickering or psychological harassment. This applies to relationships between yourself and your employees, and also to relationships among your employees.

Sexual harassment

In particular, you are supposed to protect your co-workers from sexual harassment, which is taken very seriously in Canada and applies even to the casual comment on a female collaborator’s dress. Avoid sexual jokes or innuendos at all costs yourself, and do not tolerate them on your employees’ part. As is logical from a non-discriminatory perspective, this applies to female and male co-workers alike.

Reasonable accommodation

Strict observance of the non-discrimination principle is required on your part as a manager. Any form of discrimination, be it based on gender, race, religion or sexual preferences is not only culturally frowned upon, but also severely punished by law. Be ready to adjust to different cultures and religions among your co-workers, and to grant “reasonable accommodation” to your employees. This means you should adapt their work schedule to accommodate certain religious or cultural practices, inasmuch as the concerned employees are reasonable in their demands.

Balancing personal / professional lives

The balance between family or personal life, and professional life, is very important for Canadian employees and managers alike, especially in Quebec. People are very keen on preserving their quality of life, and as a manager, you are expected to respect that, and even to enjoy it yourself!

Learn more on cultural differences and attitudes at work by consulting the CIC, the MICC or la CITIM (in French, Montreal): they provide information and advice to help your personal and professional integration, whether you are an immigrant or a temporary worker in Canada.

About the Author:

I founded ARIANNE Relocation Canada in 1997 in order to assist families relocating to Montreal, and then all over Canada. I have a lot of advice and stories to share about how to successfully move and relocate to Canada! If I can be of help please contact me at

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