Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Honor the company!

Recently I met up with an old Japanese friend to catch up on stuff, share some drinks and stories, I was particularly interested since my friend had recently changed company due to an acquisition of the Japanese subsidiary of the foreign company he was working in, by a quite old traditional Japanese company.

Although my friend is completely Japanese, he has so far spent his career working for foreign companies and received something of a culture shock when he started his "new/old" job in the company he had ended up in as the foreign operation was quickly completely integrated into the Japanese company. In particular, there were three things that he found most difficult to adjust to:

1. Work not starting from 09:00AM but from 08:50AM (my friend was a bit unsure as of the reasons for this, just that it seemed to be the standard in some old fashioned companies; perhaps any of my readers would know why?)

2. Required morning greeting where all in the department huddle around, say "good morning" in a loud voice together before going back to doing nothing

3. The company anthem and the way that it's sung when opening bigger meetings with everyone singing it with passion and knowing it by heart (my friend so far just pretends and seem to be getting away with it)

All in all, I think that my decision to stay in foreign capital companies seem to be a wise one, a company anthem I would have quite big difficulties adjusting to...


Sarahf said...

When I worked for a Japanese company, we had a kind of prayer we had to recite at big meetings. It was a bit like belonging to a cult.

RMilner said...

I work for a European branch of a Japanese company but it is a very westernised Japanese company and doesn't have any of the group formation rituals typically seen in the more traditional companies.

Friends of mine who work in traditional Japanese companies say the same thing; there are these rituals that have to be performed -- one example was everyone promising to improve their English language ability -- then everything goes back to the normal inefficient way of doing things.

I went on an interesting course which explained that this sort of method is because Japan is a much more collective minded society than the US or Europe. The most important thing is to maintain group cohesion.

Kathy Yates said...

The 8:50am start time is to allow everyone 'preparation' time before work actually starts at 9am.

I'm wondering whether your friend's old/new company has a chime for start/finish & lunch breaks. Mine did and it amused me greatly. I felt like I was back at school (we also had the 8:50am start time...)

aimlesswanderer said...

My best friend works for a JP bank, and he said the decision making process is extremely slow and mysterious. They want to hire another person for their team, but it could be months before they get the ok from head office.

Anonymous said...

anthem? whoa. brainwashing, much?

ThePenguin said...

What is this "8:50am" thing you all mention? Though come to think of it, I found myself on a train station platform a while back around that time and was most bemused by all the other people there.

Mr. Salaryman said...

Sarafh - Nice, maybe I should push for that in my company too!

Rmilner- Well, maybe you should check things out in the head office? Describing the Japanese as "group oriented" is quite proper I believe, I just have some issues with the generalizations that this view can cause sometimes as.

Kathy - There you go then, that sounds very reasonable and what I suspected. Time to hang off the coat, pour the coffee without wasting the company time. Now that you mention it, he did say something about a chime for those start and end times!

Aimless - Haha, well that could be due to other reasons, could be an early sign that the bank is going to go all Lehman Brothers on him?

Penguin - I could try to explain, but I don't really think that it would fit your frame of reference and let's just leave it at that shall we?

Foggia said...

In the Japanese company I was working in before, we had a chime at 8.50 and then at 9.
Similarly, at 12.50 and at 13.00, to signal "preparation before work" time.
No company anthem, thank God or whoever, but it had interesting old customs.
Like handing monthly salary to each employee in a cash strapped envelope.
Met the administration top guy walking in the street back from the bank one pay day. He had a freaking fortune in 10.000 bills in a sport bag.
A safe country indeed.

BiggerInJapan said...

Dude...we have the morning callanetics, we have the sing-song, we have the meetings... I'm fucked!

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