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Here are some typical culture in a Japanese company

1. The Legendary “Hou Ren Sou” (known as “報・連・相” in Japanese)

  • “Sou”:  Consulting others (normally the seniors or influential ones) for advice, whenever a decision is to be made, no matter big or small. It serves as a way to show respect and rule to get along with others in a company. This also shows the consensus and collective nature of decision-making progress.
  • “Hou”: Reporting task/assignment status or on-going progress to the boss/superior/management regularly. This is usually a one-way communication that you do not expect any feedback in return. For example, some Japanese managers request subordinates to prepare to-do list in excel file for reporting purpose.
  • “Ren”: Conveying necessary information to all members of a certain team / within organization. One of the ways is to include all relevant members in email CC list when corresponding with others. In Japanese working environment, it’s always better to be transparent or well-informed, rather than getting surprised.

2. Manners of communication

  • Social behaviors in Japanese companies are very much emphasized. This is seemed as an essential element of relationship-building and in turn, a way to maintain one of the companies’ key values – Harmony (‘和’, ‘Wa’). As such, there is an entirely different set of grammatical structures for communicating respectfully with superiors, customers, and co-workers. Failing to use the correct wording or understand the subtlety may result in offence to the counterpart, or more worryingly, loss of business opportunities.

3. Punctuality

  • Contrary to regions like Latin America or Middle East, Japanese cultures value punctuality to a rather strict and rigid extent. In other words, the socio-emotional time orientation leads to another kind of Japanese corporate work style, be it for business visits, project completion, service delivery, or even internal/team meeting schedules.

4. Team bond

  • Even though most traditional Japanese companies are hierarchically organized, it’s not surprising to realize employees’ strong sense of belonging. The importance of group relationship is never underestimated. Therefore, working adults often socialize with team after work, mostly for dinner and drinks. Alcohol can be deemed as social lubricant that enhances intimacy of team members with conversations, e.g. saying something that can’t be said in the office. There’s a commonly known term “Nomunication” describing Japanese drinking communication in business.
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