Five Cultural Differences and Learning Points for Japanese Companies
Disclaimer ● The following are just my observations from my personal experience and what I have heard from friends who also work in Japan ● Not all Japanese companies are the same so please take it with a grain of salt ● The examples are all somewhat exaggerated for presentation purposes and the comparison are really just relatively speaking ● I love Japan!
Japan US ● World’s Most Formal Emails ● World’s Most Informal Emails (?) ● Honorifics (Keigo) ● Casual (“Hey”) ● More Polite (? not necessarily) ● Rude (? not necessarily) ● Longer ● Shorter ● Wordy ● Straight to the point
EXAMPLE Japan US
Question for thought: Are formal Emails more effective? Are formal Emails necessary?
2. Working Time
Japan US ● Strict on working time ● Flexible on working time except for ● Uncomfortable to leave “on time” mandatory meetings unless you do not “read the air” ● Manage your own time and ● Based more on time responsibilities ● Based more on performance ● Easier to manage ● Harder to manage (Pokemon GO?) ● Less motivated (not necessarily) ● More motivated (not necessarily)
EXAMPLE Japan US ● Arrive on start time ● Play pingpong at 2:30pm ● Leave a little later after end time ● Work at 2:30am ● No pingpong during work hours
EXAMPLE Japan US (Just leave)
Question for thought: Do Longer hours = Better results? Do Flexible working hours = Better results?
3. Giving Negative Feedback
Japan US ● Not a lot of feedback ● I like XXX but I wish … ● Everyone is too polite and scared ● Honest feedback (?) to offend other people or their work ● Less conflicts ● More conflicts ● Harder to identify area for ● Easier to identify area for improvement improvement
EXAMPLE Japan US ● I love the creativity ● I like XXX but I wish … ● The color is very nice! ● Can we redo the whole ● Very cool 3D modeling! thing? ● めっちゃいいね ● Wow… who designed these?
Question for thought: Do you want feedbacks from others even if they’re not necessarily pleasant?
4. Making Decisions
Japan US ● Decisions are made collectively ● More free and to the point ● Everyone needs to be happy ● Individuals are relatively more about the decision empowered to make decisions ● A lot of meetings ● Less meetings ● Not a lot of negative feedback ● Better decisions (?) ● Relies on individuals’ ability more ● Takes longer ● Faster
EXAMPLE Japan US ● “But XXX might be unhappy about ● Involve a few key persons in the this decision” meeting ● “Let’s decide it next week when ● Decide and do it XXX is here” ● “Can you confirm with XXX just to make sure?”
Question for thought: How many people should you ask before making a decision?
5. Performance and Appraisal
Japan US ● Salaries can drop but you will ● Based on Performance probably not get fired ● You get fired if you cannot do your ● You’re safe as long as you do your job hours ● By firing poor hiring decisions, ● Over time, company’s quality can company can stay lean and fit deteriorate due to poor hiring ● Pays more decisions ● More contract-based employments and pays less
Question for thought: Safe and strict VS Dangerous and free which one do you prefer?