Igniting Workplace Enthusiasm

One Of The Biggest Leader Challenges in Japan

How do you run your business?  Sharp on the cost control, right on top of the quality, working hard on building the brand, watchful of competitors, full throttle on appealing to shareholders and stakeholders?  There is one area that is going to become a headache. That is people.
I am not talking about just training them, I am hearing from leaders in Japan their concerns about getting staff and keeping them.  In the good old days there were tones of staff to hire and fire as needed by Japanese companies but that is changing big time. The lack of qualified staff is hitting across more and more industries. 
There are multiples of job openings for new hires from which to choose.  Why would they pick your company and even more importantly, why would they stay?   We know people on't leave companies they leave bosses.  Today there is so much information about your shop available on-line they can check you out thoroughly before they think about joining. There are battalions of diligent recruiters out there busily contributing to Japan's labor mobility by moving people into jobs  and around jobs.
The idea that we can have an unattractive workplace where people are ill trade by the system or their bosses or both is out of date.  Aspirants wil read about how we really treat people behind the velvet curtain.
Once inside they will be engaged in direct relationship to how they are managed.  The results of the engagement surveys we have conducted world wide hold up true for Japan as well.  The feeling of being " valued" is the critical piece of the puzzle to get our staff engaged. 
 The only trouble with this is the presidential suite of offices is not where too much mass staff engaging goes on. This is more the wheelhouse, scouring the horizon for opportunities and trouble.  This is where the direction and culture are determined.  
The actuality is the delivery is done by people much further down the food chain.  Supervisors and middle level managers are the dispenses of justice and travesties of justice, that either keep people or enrage them to leave.
One quick contemplation of this reality tells you that the leadership of organizations is only going o become more complicated and more important.  How well do your middle managers treat your team?  Are they ensuring the finite and growing less numerous human resources under their stead are being properly taken care.
Do the troops feel valued?  Engaged staff don't move, they spurn the recruiters siren calls to jump ship.  They see a future for themselves, they feel valued and that their contribution is both recognized and making a difference.
How do they know this?  Because their boss is communicating exactly this to them.  They know about their team members.  They know their fears, frustrations, concerns, hopes, aims and aspirations.  When I was growing up in business there was a solid walll etween work and private.  The  boss going there was a taboo.  No longer applicable today as we face so many issues with aging parents and the younger employees want a more whole person approach from the company.
The pressure on bosses to produce numbers have mainly been concentrated on revenues but in addition to that, the pressure to retain staff and maintain low turnover numbers becomes more critical.
Flexibility is bending the HR rules in companies.  In fact it changing HR.  The classic Japanese model of HR is that of the enforcers, penalizing people for breaking the rules, failing to get their paperwork in on time, punishing them by dispatch to remote provinces or torturing miscrants until they crack and quit.  The idea of the HR partner in the business is still catching on inJapan and the rule police is still the default mode.  Staff need to take time off to take their parents to hospital, to stay home when their kids have a fever or break their toe or get a cold or refuse to got to school.
They need to have their request to work from home granted and not to be judged slackers and doubtful management material for the future.  They may need to come in late or go home early - travesties in the current regime thinking in most Japanese companies.
Bosses need to be handing out more praise and it has to be quality praise.  Quality praise- what does that mean?  Well done is low quality praise and pointless.  Exactly what was well done?  The praise has to capture the detail, concisely of that thing done well and this has to be fed back to the staff.  The credibility of the praise is directly linked to the specificity of the praise.  It also has to be timely.  Saving prize up for the annual revenue like a Christmas present bought on special to be delivered on one day of the year is an antiquated idea.  The impact of the credible praise is directly linked to its proximity to the event that deserves the praise.
The boos as super coach is also a new idea, that will only grow in importance.  The can't delegate boss is an anachronism in this era.  Delegation is how we train people to take over our jonbs and not some happy dumping ground for our workload.  The time devoted to helping staff step out of their comfort zone is in direct proportion to the number of innovative ideas which will arise form staff conversations. Senior management hardly hears of any innovative ideas from the front line for the simp,e reason the middle managers are doing a  poor job engaging and encouraging their people.
Having your ideas picked up and implemented by the organization and being praised for your work will engage staff to stay.  It also results in the jungle tomtoms broadcasting this is a great p,ace to work, where people are valued, idea are implemented, bosses care and coach.
Do your middle managers get it yet?  If they don't then some remedial training on the new reality is in order.  The possibility of running out of people to maintain your current business is here now and just around the corner is your challenge of not being able to get enough new people to drive the business forward. Being a Leader is fun isn't it!

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