Konnichiwa

Setting off on our recruiting delegation to Japan

I’m fascinated by how cultural differences play out in the workplace. Whether it’s the hiring process, a job or an entire career, there are undercurrents of culture that ebb and flow throughout- seldom discernible to anyone from the ‘outside’.

In some way every person can be seen to belong to multiple ‘tribes’ – race, gender, school, region, country, age, sport, hobby, religion, etc. etc. and each has its own ‘signals’ for respect, accomplishment, acceptance and more. We only have so much bandwidth to read the way these signals are communicated and tend to remain within our own boundaries. Stepping out of our comfort zone now and again offers insight and an awareness that what we often perceive as noise or, worse, misperceive because of our narrow perspective impacts our ability to work collectively to achieve common goals.

Chris Hoyt and I are, at this moment, on San Diego’s ‘Surfrider’- an Amtrak train heading north to LAX where my 17-year grandson, Brendon, will join us. We’re 3 of 13 heading to Japan tomorrow.

We’re a delegation headed by China Gorman (It’s my 3rd trip with China having been to India and Cuba in past years. With current and former CEOs, CHROs, TA Leaders, TA and HR Consultants, HCM Business Owners, a character or two and while only one high school student will be with us, we'll all be wearing a student persona- curious, listening, learning and sharing.

We expect to meet with government, university and commercial employers over the next week and a half, eat well, talk late, and have time for the unexpected. Mostly we’ll be in Tokyo but a few days will be spent in a more rural setting living with local families.

For me, every trip (more than a dozen in the last two decades) has been a peak experience and I expect no less. I hope to post a note or two nearly every day and perhaps include my colleagues’, business partner’s and grandson’s observations along the way.

Feel free to reach out. What questions about Japan’s workforce, management style, HR practices, government incentives and cultural issues would you probe if you were with us?

Where would you go next year?

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Gerry Crispin
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Gerry co-authored eight books on the evolution of staffing and has written 100s of articles and whitepapers on similar topics during a career in Human Resources that spans more than 40 years from HR leadership positions at Johnson and Johnson; to boutique Executive Search firms; a Career Services Director at the University where he received his Engineering and 2 advanced degrees in Organizational/Industrial Behavior; and, GM of a major recruitment advertising firm even as he launched CareerXroads 20 years ago.

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