Differences between East and WestAuthor: Tim Bryce
been to Japan several times over the years on business and have had
the privilege of seeing Japanese work habits first hand, which are
noticeably different than in the United States. As a small example,
the first time I visited, I noticed that in addition to having Coke
and Pepsi machines on a street corner, there were also beer and whiskey
machines. I discovered the Japanese were not worried about the youth
getting alcohol from the machines as it would cause their families
to "lose face" through embarrassment. If we had such machines in
this country, they would probably be emptied by our youth faster
than the vendors could stock them.
About the Author:
Aside from this though, there are a few other differences I observed in corporate Japan:
1. Japanese do not like to say "No" to someone as they do not want to offend the person. Instead, they tend to say, "Maybe Yes," which, when translated, means "No." If they nod their heads in the affirmative, it only means they understand what you are saying but they don't necessarily agree with you. Because of this, it is not uncommon for American businessmen to fool themselves into believing they are being successful when they make a presentation in Japan. In reality, the Japanese understood the presentation but need time to digest and discuss it amongst themselves. If an American asks them something like, "Was I correct in this regards?" If they answer, "Maybe Yes," the
American is in trouble.
2. I've been in a few large offices in Japan where I have seen young employees suddenly jump up on their desks and give a five minute speech on why he is proud of his company and what a pleasure it is to work with his coworkers. When finished, the rest of the office politely applauds before returning to their work.
3. It is not proper for an employee to be insolent and openly criticize
his superior. Knowing this may lead to pent up frustrations, some
companies have small closet-sized rooms where the disgruntled employee
can go into, close the door, and quietly beat an effigy of the boss
with a bamboo stick. It may sound kind of silly, then again, you
don't hear of anyone going "postal" in Japan either.
4. It is still important for the Japanese to reach a consensus on any significant decision. This process may take some time to perform, but they want to emphasize team building and inclusion of employees in the decision making process.
5. When you join a major company in Japan it is common to first "pay your dues," whereby you and your "class" (those
who joined at the same time) are put on the same employment level
and work for ten years, after which it is determined who the hard
workers are and reward them with a major job promotion. If you didn't
work hard, the company won't necessarily fire you, but your advancement
in the company is arrested. Nonetheless, the emphasis here is on
teamwork and creating a spirit of cooperation.
In the United States though, things are a little different...
1. Americans are not afraid of offending anyone. So much so, that "Hell No!" (or
stronger) is a natural part of our vernacular. Unlike the Japanese
who digest something before speaking, Americans do not hesitate to
tell you whether they agree with you or not.
2. Rarely do you find an American employee who is steadfastly loyal to his company. Instead, it is more likely he will start an anonymous blog to bitch about his company and slander the character of the boss and his coworkers.
3. Americans tend to vent their frustrations more publicly than the Japanese. For example, you might get attacked in the company parking lot, or someone may pull a gun out and start shooting.
4. Instead of group decision making, Americans prefer rugged individualism whereby decisions tend to be made unilaterally as opposed to seeking the counsel of others. Consequently, employees tend to undermine any decision which is jammed down their throats.
5. When you join a major company in the United States, you are rewarded more for individual acts as opposed to team playing. This results in a never ending game of scratching and clawing your way up the corporate hierarchy. Obviously, this approach promotes interoffice politics and cutthroat tactics as opposed to a spirit of cooperation.
Why the substantial differences? Primarily because Japan is a homogeneous
culture, and the American "melting pot" is heterogeneous which includes
people of all races, faiths, and beliefs.
Although the differences between east and west are noticeable, things
are slowly changing in Japan, whose youth have grown up with the
Internet and are starting to emulate the work habits of their counterparts
in the west. In other words, instead of observing courtesy, honor
and respect, Japan is slowly becoming Westernized and I fear that
some time in the not too distant future "Maybe Yes" will mean nothing
more than that.
Tim Bryce is a writer and management consultant located in Palm Harbor, Florida.
He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2009 Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.
Article Source: ArticlesBase.com - Differences between East and West
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