Oh The Things people Say

Was asked to attend a small, sensitive-topic meeting earlier this week.  The content of the meeting was not as important as one thing that was said during it.

The topic of top management came up in an oblique way and the Japanese assignee who I was interpreting for said that everyone-meaning he and all the other Japanese here at this ghetto company (a borrowed term from a former Vox blogger, but an apt term) were waiting for top management to leave (and there’s apparently still a year left).

Personalities aside this is rare for a Japanese to be so directly, so brutally frank especially in front of non-Japanese.  Much has been written and discussed about the use of nuance by Japanese to convey information with the understanding everyone is on the same wavelength and will readily ‘get it’.  Only in the most closest, most imitate situations; I have found will Japanese be so blunt.

As for the person in question, he’s a transplant from Honda, with I am told, a background in finance, not manufacturing.  Why he’s so universally disliked is something I haven’t really asked about.  Perhaps some of the silly rules in this ghetto company, like a cleaning on every Wednesday lunch period of the office and plant floor- like that’s going to help get this  place back in the good graces of the customer, are attributable to him.

But farming out employees to subsidiaries or suppliers within a corporate group is not a rare thing in and among Japanese companies and the reasons are varied.  In some cases, the person at the parent company is looked upon as having some expertise that is needed at a first or second tier supplier, and such a move is viewed as less of a demotion than an opening of a new chapter.  Farming out  also a means for the parent company an easy avenue to clear away personnel ‘dead wood’, get them out of the way and afflict some poor affiliate with them, which I am beginning to  believe is the case here.

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