Work-cred, Japanese style

I love working for a Japanese-managed/owned company.
I’ve always been someone who likes the feeling of equality and loyalty in a workplace and I see this in my current company.

When you work for the Japanese, you are expected to be loyal (maybe that’s why a lot of Japanese companies have employees that’s been with them for many years) and work hard for the company. Discipline and courtesy rank high in their books–thus, absences and lates are usually frowned upon.

I’ve worked for two Japanese companies my whole life and I can say they take high regard for attention to detail. They value exceptional work output as result of hard work. And they are not stingy when it comes to criticisms when they feel that you need to improve, and praise when they know that you deserve it.

Unlike Western offices which puts premium importance to securing the corner office and your own personal space — our office (and that or my previous one, a Japanese publishing company) advocates offices minus walls. The company general manager is seated a few steps away from the first row of business consultants, the door of the CEO/owner’s office is always open. The CEO is available the whole day for consultations, for project briefs, and knows each staff by name. And oh, our big boss–shacho–likes kids. So employees are allowed to bring their kids on Saturdays.

Came across these tips from an article, titled “How to get ahead in Bijinesu” from Alt Japan. One thing’s for sure, some of the tips might be too extreme or will make you go “wtf?!?” But hey, you take it with a grain of salt…

1. If someone above you (your senpai) tells you crows are white, they’re white.

The word of your superiors is like the word of the Emperor. While there are idiots out there, most of the time they won’t be asking you to believe things that are patently untrue. So give them the benefit of the doubt. If someone gives you flack about it later, you can just say that your boss told you to do what you’re doing.

2. Nobody is depending on you.

That stuff about how “we’re all depending on our newest employees?” Lip service. What they mean is that they hope two or three years down the road you’ll turn into someone they can depend on.

3. The only proper response is “yes.”

You don’t have the right to refuse anything at this stage. If someone asks you if it’s possible for you to do something, the only proper answer is “yes.” Nobody cares about your opinion. But if you try your best and can’t pull it off, tell someone before it gets out of control.

4. Feel free to ask the same questions over and over.

Some people will tell you never to ask something twice. Ignore them. But don’t be a nudge, either. Most of the time, using a simple memo notebook will help you avoid having to ask about the same thing repeatedly.

5. Abandon your pride.

Bowing your head costs nothing. In fact, it can reap rewards. Apologies are nothing but sound waves. If apologizing fixes something, apologize on the spot. Even if you were right, let it drop. Say you were wrong.

6. Forget about what the client wants. It’s about what your BOSS wants.

Occasionally you will see superiors doing things that appear not to be in the client’s best interest, or that seem technically flawed in some way. Ignore it. The people doing these things have far more experience than you. It is one hundred times better to learn to change your own way of thinking than it is to work on trying to change others.

7. Just get it done.

At times you will get overloaded with work requests from superiors. The important thing is just to get it done however you can. Don’t be a perfectionist; that’s the road to physical and mental stress. This isn’t an excuse to slack off. But you are the new guy. If you mess up someone will fix it.

8. Give up.

If a job is impossible, it’s okay to give up. Someone else will do it. Your superiors are there to fix the mistakes you make. The worst possible thing is to escalate a problem. If you are definitely in over your head tell your superiors right away.

…or just don’t take it seriously.

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