Japanese Typical Communication Style: Top to Bottom & Management Through Information
Q: Mr. Nishi set up his own company. He makes contact with his clients and manages his schedule and other administration at home. His wife helps him out with these. In his book, Mr. Nishi mentions his wife, “One day when I looked at my wife answering the phone, somehow I feel that she is not really polite enough on the phone. Therefore I do this.” The question is “this.” What would you do if you were him?
A: Conveying information that forms the basis for judgment
There are possible three answers below.
A: Since his wife has no clerical experiences, she doesn’t know business manners on how to answer the phone and communicate politely on the phone. Immediately he borrowed a DVD on business etiquette and let his wife learn what is taught on the video. This type of way should work well quickly.
B: Because his wife is a housewife with no clerical experiences, the problem is that she is not familiar with the basics of business in the first place. She should at least take up some short-term secretarial course and learn the basics of business systematically to deepen her understanding.
C: He would give her advice whenever he notices, by saying, “How you spoke just now was polite and good. Your manners on answering the phone improved recently. By the way there is also this phrase in business that you can use.”
A is effective. This method is also used for educating new staff and there are many videos about these on sale.
As for B, if they understand the basics, the effectiveness can spread to other areas in business. It is very useful.
I think there are many people who think C is a good choice. Actually, all of the three are effective.
When I introduced this example to participants at a seminar, I sometimes get an answer like that of a member from a political party, saying: (A+B+C)÷3. Also, a female consultant once replied, “Mr. Nishi should pay a decent salary to his wife.”
Anyway what do you think Mr. Nishi did? He did not try any of the three.
Mr. Nishi added a section in the Schedule Management charts. To put it simply, he added the transaction amount of each client. With this section, the wife understands the importance of each client when she talks with them on the phone. Since then, of course his wife’s attitude changed completely.
I conducted 5 training sessions with Company A last year and we received XXX million yen.
Company B asked for my lecture training and they remitted XX million yen to us.
Company C bought our training materials and paid X million yen.
Company D was not our client last year but it is a potential client this year (with a circle marked for emphasis).
Or, we are currently apologizing to Company C for a mistake caused by us.
This is probably how Mr. Nishi added in the charts.
“This company is the most important to us.” “We are apologizing to this company for something we did wrong.” “We are entering a crucial stage for a major business negotiation with this company.” He is in possession of such information. Making judgments based on information like this, he gives out instruction such as “to be more polite”, “to complete by today”, “This is too simple. Rewrite it with more details.”
It would be good if a superior can let his or her subordinates know more of the information that forms the basis of judgment. This is the way of thinking for “management through information.” This is communication from top to bottom. Japanese companies still use this information to manage their subordinates.
If the information is available, generally subordinates can make the same judgment as their superior. Though we cannot say this will apply to all the other cases, I think there is always some information that should be informed to subordinates.