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20 oddities of the corporate world in Japan
20 oddities of the corporate world in Japan

Why bosses work late, and employees try not to shine.

20 oddities of the corporate world in Japan
20 oddities of the corporate world in Japan

Twitter user Marat Vyshegorodtsev spoke about unexpected and sometimes funny business practices that he had to face during his 7 years of living and working in Japan.

About business correspondence

1. First and foremost, there is a lot of water in emails and text messages. Type:

  • Hey!
  • How are you?
  • Can you talk?

Or 150 lines of cliché-text in the heading of the letter, somewhere in the middle - one line in fact, then 150 lines of cliché-conclusions and signatures with all the insignia.

2. The Japanese send attachments in an encrypted archive. And the password is sent in another letter to the same address. What for? Who taught them this? Then you reply to such a letter, attach a text file or a picture, and in response: "Our antivirus does not allow opening attachments." The password will usually be "12345" or something of a similar difficulty level. For the convenience of the recipient, of course!

3. If a Japanese needs to receive data in a structured form, he sends you Her Majesty an Excel spreadsheet with a form to fill out. Everything would be fine, but it will definitely have a VBA macro to validate all input fields. How can it be without them. Poppy users are especially happy. According to the rules of form validation, your surname will certainly not fit, because you are a "gaijin" (foreigner), come in large numbers here. But the macro will not tell you about it, it will just give an "Invalid Input" error in one of the thousands of fields that you filled in.

A classic of the genre: a screenshot inserted in Excel, compressed into an archive with a password, the password is in another letter. The needle is in the egg, the egg is in the duck.

4. Any letter is written by an eerie clerk. The art of knowing it is unknown even to the Japanese themselves. And they sincerely believe that it is impossible for a foreigner to comprehend "sonkeigo" (a style of polite speech) purely genetically.

5. The Japanese have a wild love for "very important" or "need to reply" mass mailings when they are not really important and not required. Then they will send another five times for reliability. Especially sophisticated Japanese know how to "automate" the process by the labor of low-paid hourly employees.

You will have to get used to group emails of 30 people per copy. How you got there, and why this topic is relevant to you - even the one who added you there does not know. In Japan, there is no Reply button, only Reply all.

About work and leisure

6. In Japan, it is not customary to fire. And it is not accepted to change the job either. As in the army, until the pension is raised only for the length of service. "Lifetime Employment" is called.

7. Japanese companies use a subtraction algorithm, while Western companies use additions. Conventionally, the Japanese start everything from the 100% position. For each joint, the boss deducts a point or two in his mind. By the end of the half-year, whoever has the most points (fewer jambs) gets a promotion and an increase in the bonus.

In Western companies, employees start at 0% and receive a mental point from their boss for each achievement. Whoever has more points at the end of the half-year is great. Therefore, in the USA it is customary to show off, but in Japan it is customary not to shine.

8. Lunch is strictly at 12:00. At 11:30 - "I'm not hungry yet," and at 12:30 the Japanese is already in insulin shock. You won't get to a single restaurant at noon, but at one o'clock there is a rolling ball, and at 14:30 all establishments are already closed before dinner.

9. There is a myth that the Japanese work late. In fact, they are stupid all day in meetings, they answer the mail with a clerk, and in Excel they sort the lines 99% of the time. In the evening it would be time to go home, but it is not customary to leave earlier if the boss is still sitting. Therefore, everyone is also sitting.

And the boss does not go home, because his children have already gone to bed, and he has not talked to his wife for five years and he has a midlife crisis in general.

Many people ask: "How do they make such cool products then?" Here we are talking about office plankton: sales, back office and other IT specialists, marketing specialists and financiers. In factories, the harsh Japanese plow without a breath and look condescendingly at these sissies.

10. For me, Japanese management is characterized by a phrase from the novel about Hanzawa Naoki: "Achievements of subordinates belong to the boss, the shoals of the boss are the responsibility of subordinates." An excellent series, by the way, was shot based on it, I recommend it.

About meetings and negotiations

11. In any losing situation in negotiations, the Japanese will resort to the last argument: "It is not customary in our country in Japan." Although everything is accepted by them.

12. Many foreigners stumble over “nemawashi” (preliminary preparation before making a decision). This is when your Japanese colleagues invited you to a business meeting to ask your opinion. Although in fact they invited you to share the result of their collective decision. For there was nemawashi before the meeting, and all the soil was "dug up" in advance.

So what if you want to offer a bombastic solution - for example: "Let's replace Excel with Google Forms at least?" - then first you need to gently bring your colleagues to this idea at lunch. And then officially go nodding their heads (usually through sleep) to the meeting.

About the rules

13. Rules exist for the sake of rules. “I didn’t come up with them, it’s not for me to cancel them, and I don’t know why this rule exists, but I will blindly follow it.” Therefore, you can never wean a Japanese from Excel with macros.

14. If the Japanese is not built so that he is in place at 9:00 and with a tie, he will generally stop going to work and do it too. They love the process, the ceremoniality of the work, not the result. There are, of course, exceptions.

About technologies

15. The Japanese don't use Microsoft Word. Generally. If something can be summarized in a table, it will be Excel. If you need free text, they are divided into slides in Power Point. Any result of work will be either xls or ppt. In the archive. Encrypted.

16. Registration on any Japanese site requires:

  • name in hieroglyphs;
  • surname in hieroglyphs;
  • the name is hiragana;
  • surname hiragana;
  • email;
  • email again - in case you made a mistake in the first;
  • mobile phone;
  • landline telephone;
  • postcode;
  • address, in Japanese characters only;
  • the name of the house in which you live (here all apartment buildings have names);
  • credit card number - the required input field is split into four parts so that autocomplete does not work;
  • secret question in Japanese;
  • the answer is only hiragana;
  • Date of Birth;
  • secret code for telephone banking (if it is a bank);
  • secret code for the mobile application (4-6 digits).

Then "the application is accepted", and you receive the same, but already printed, by mail. Her Majesty must be stamped on a piece of paper and sent back.

And that's just to buy movie tickets online.

By the way, by the time you fill it all out correctly from 15 times, it will be: "Your session has expired, start over." Or, God forbid, press the "Back" button in your browser.

About training

17. If you look at university education, then physics, chemistry, all sorts of resistance materials and other applied engineering are at their best. This can be seen in cars, roads, bridges, consumer electronics, building materials. But with computer science, this is the problem.

Japanese programmers touch industrial code for the first time during on the job training (OJT). At the university, my classmates in the magistracy (!) Could not give more hello world. Why should they go to university at all is a mystery.

18. OJT is such a way of paying a beggarly salary to new hires after university for the first three years. At my last job, their badges even had a sticker: "First year of OJT", "Second", "Third". Type "spirit", "scoop", "demobilization".

About the service

19. The Japanese customer-centricity towards newcomers is characterized by the following trick that all newcomers gaijin fall into. To open a bank account, you need a phone, and to buy a SIM card, you need a bank account.

20. In general, the level of service in Japan is bombastic. The first reason why you don't want to leave here ever. This level is quite difficult to achieve. Instructions for new employees in a cafe in thickness, like "War and Peace", need to be learned by heart: without this, they will not be allowed to work.

Everything is there: how to hand over a check after paying with both hands and with a bow, the degree of this bow, how to count the change in coins and bills, how to accept cards, what to do if a toilet burst or a customer complains about food, how to greet visitors entering the store, and etc.

Life stories

1. During OJT you are almost given no real tasks, you get paid the minimum wage and bonus. And they suppress you as a person in every possible way, form in you a mentality of loyalty to the company and its founding father - CEO.

Somewhere even recruits are locked up in a meeting room in the morning, and they half-bowed shout: "Irasshimase!" (welcome) until evening or hoarseness (whichever comes first). And the chief, as in the army: “Bow deeper! Shout louder! Private Yamada-kun, I can't hear!"

Some companies decided to immediately send new employees to the army for training. Seriously. In the army, they are taught to come on time, make the bed and clean up. In general, the most necessary knowledge for future bankers and programmers.

2. In my previous company, all recruits who just came from college were forced to sell "cold" credit card contracts. I had to call anyone: relatives, friends, classmates. At least 100 calls. They didn't even let me have lunch if it didn't work out that much.

One girl at work had no one to call, so she dialed her own mother about 40 times, pretending to call another person. And then she sat quietly and cried in the corner.

3. The cornerstone of Japanese corporate courtesy is the secretary state exam. See example below.

The new boss handed out a thick stack of paper with the words: "Take your time, as the time will be, drive everything into Excel." You thought that there was no hurry and put it on the edge of the table. The next morning, the boss asks: "Well, did you put in all the data?" You: "Not yet." The boss leaves very dissatisfied.

Suggest three examples of how to prevent this nightmare from happening again.

Examples of correct answers:

  1. Find out the deadline or suggest your own. Make sure the boss agrees with him.
  2. Find out these habits of the new boss beforehand.
  3. If there is a lot of work, then it is better to immediately take on it and submit interim reports.

No, "the boss is an asshole" is the wrong answer.

The point is that tough corporate sharks should read between the lines (literally "read the air" in Japanese). What is not said is more important than what is said. A real secretary has a hand on … "honne" (true thoughts and intentions) of her boss.

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