Japanese HR Practices that Promote Teamwork

Introduction

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Human resource management (HRM) practices from a historic perspective have always been identified as a key ingredient for the Japanese firms success during the 1980s on the global markets. However, it is the human resource management orientation during the 1960 to 1985 that marked the peak of Japanese firms success, mainly due to the advantageous business environment at the time. In the context of the increased competition during the 1990s, Japanese firms changed, and their HRM systems became mainly performance-oriented. The people-oriented HRM system that the Japanese firms implemented had engraved within it five main aspects that made it unique. It not only supported self-development but also helped enhance the employees teamwork. The five identified characteristics include: consensus decision-making, development and selection, enterprise unions and seniority-based rewards, and lifetime employment contract.

The Japanese management model in the early 1980s and, in particular, its HRM model, have been seen as being competitive, but very different from the Western-style management. Its unique culture, deep-roots, and institutional characteristics are often cited as the main reasons for the evident differences. The homogenous culture in the country and the fact that there is only a small percentage of the population that is made up of emigrants, generally makes the work of the Japanese HR similar in the country with only minor differences being found in the regions (Bird & Beechler, 1995).

Another reason for the compatibility and efficient teamwork within the Japanese industries can be seen in their trade unions; for example, Hitachi and Nisan have their own unions. The main reason why the trade unions are critical is that they are similar in their management and characteristics, which help the companys inter-relationships and culture. This can be seen in the way the company harmonizes cooperation with the workers to not only address their issues but also demonstrate efficiency in their production processes (Bird & Beechler, 1995).

The Japanese HR implementation of the Ringi method of decision making is another factor that helps enhance teamwork within corporations. The method is used for making vital decisions and requires a lot of time to implement. It also demands cooperation between workers and management for efficiency to be achieved.

Another factor that the Japanese resource management used within their companies to facilitate growth and enhance teamwork is the kaizen philosophy system, which assumes input of all the employees from all sectors of the company from the lower to uppermost management. This system constantly encourages everyone to contribute, regardless of their held position, to the companys general growth and development. Thereby, their contributions are shared and often implemented (Nasurdin, Hemdi, & Guat, 2008).

Other well-known classical and distinct features of the Japanese HRM that promote teamwork within the organization include: a seniority-based rewards system, internal labor markets and permanent employment prospects, collaborative enterprise unions, and promotions to senior leadership.

The main reasons why Japanese HRM is effective in implementation are attention to detail, egalitarianism, organizational climate movement 5S, strong discipline, and team work. In addition, the main motivational factors behind the well-functioning teamwork include the supervisors leadership characterized by example setting and initiative taking. There is also an increase in the number of worker opportunities for participation. Through those, the employees feel more respected and valued as individuals and are more eager to cooperate since they feel more engaged at work. The Japanese implemented rational systems that effectively helped with meeting their production needs. Through such strategic relations, cooperation between the management and employees was heightened.

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The study of the Japanese business culture is another important factor that promotes efficiency and teamwork within the organizations. This aspect can be better understood mainly through review of the countries power structure, i.e., international versus national level; centralized versus decentralized management practices, the non-egalitarian approach versus the egalitarian approach. Analysis of the risk-taking tolerance mainly encompasses aspects like non-bureaucratic orientation versus bureaucratic orientation, as well as high avoidance levels versus low avoidance levels. As to the risk-taking tolerance, there has to be an agreed upon consensus within the management and employees regarding planning and cooperation within the company (Bird & Beechler, 1995).

Analyzing the relationship culture also explains how teamwork and efficient HRM practices help in the countries industries growth. This can be seen through the individual focus versus team orientation, individualism versus collectivism. The collectivism aspect is documented in Japan for its recurrent emphasis on team issues. It warrants the need for establishing an agreement before a single decision can be implemented. In this culture, there is an encouragement from the management to establish lasting relationships, as compared to individual performance and group loyalty (Celal, 2011).

Defining the femininity/masculinity roles is also an important aspect of the Japanese organizations that helps establish efficiency and teamwork within the different sections of the company. This is mainly since there is a clear distinction between the organizational level and societal roles between female and male. With the different sex roles clearly defined, the Japanese managers tend to be more decisive and assertive. This factor enhances efficiency since there will not be any breach in the main roles and overlapping of duties within the organization due to the clear decisiveness of the management.

Research on key managerial skills in Japan reveals that the prevailing national business culture has to fit well within the effective cross-cultural management skills, as they are being implemented in the different sectors of the companies. Good working relations and team work can be demonstrated by the collectivism culture in most of the Japanese business that places a high significance on family members recommendation or an elite university reference. Other significant key managerial functions include employee participation, reward allocation, managerial communication, employee motivation, and executive development (Bird & Beechler, 1995).

In conclusion, the analysis of the managerial communication and employee participation in the context of the Japanese socially oriented business culture clearly shows the lower levels of organizational power distance and significant social orientation. The executive development of the Japanese companies shows focus on assignments that are general at almost similar levels of hierarchy. This means that the Japanese HRM approach to business is often more based on past experiences and performance. Analysis of employee promotion and reward allocation in the Japanese companies shows that the allocation of rewards is mostly group-based. That fact is in line with the already established business culture that is more equality-oriented. Such a business culture not only helps with the promotion of fairness within the companies but also boosts teamwork within the companys hierarchy.

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