You can expect your relationships with Indian employees to be different than what you encounter in a Western office. The dynamics are worth exploring, and it helps to know what to expect so that you’re not caught off guard.
Personal and business personas are intricately intertwined in India, and many Indians find separating them difficult. When you criticize someone’s work or ideas, be aware that the employee may take it as a personal attack. Contrary to the Western habit of calling a spade a spade in business dealings, in India it’s normal to sugarcoat the bitter pill.
Pair criticism with praise. Begin by saying that you generally appreciate the person you’re talking to and then work your way toward mentioning the one small thing you want changed. Like anyone, Indians appreciate the consideration.
Here’s an example: To bring your tardy Indian secretary up to snuff, say “I know how hard you usually work, but you didn’t deliver this project in time. I’d like to see it on my table Monday.” In the West, just the last sentence may be enough to do the trick, but it won’t work in India.