With the business environment becoming more and more globalized, it would be in almost naive to not research how business is handle in other countries. The simplest non-verbal interactions can lead to big miscommunication if not known. Before venturing abroad to make business connections and deals, it is always advisable to do a little research and see how your country’s business practices stack up against your destinations’ approaches.
Two countries that vary greatly in business practices and tradition would be Japan and Canada. Japan has a very traditional and family oriented business environment while Canada is more open market and individualized. However, both have proven to work effectively together over a long-term business relationship when there is a mutual gain and respect.
Japan business structure is always a family affair. Although, members of an organization are not blood-related it is to be understood that the relationship between employees and employers is as if they were. Japanese business culture is based around the notions of team work and long-term relationships with employees and clients. There is a mentality that “no one succeeds if we all don’t succeed“. In Japanese business hierarchy you are to treat all your co-workers as if they were family and they are to share their success and failures with you and vice versa.
In Canada the business hierarchy is more a tall structure. There are levels in the business structure that workers can be achieved solely if they outperform their cohorts. This can lead to a very hostile and competitive work environment that could be deemed toxic. However, with the globalization of the business world shifting towards “synergy” and the notion that team work can lead to innovation and more successful outcomes, Canada and other western world business are learning from “old world” approaches to business.
In order for cross-continental business to be successful there needs to a sincere effort to break down communication barriers both verbal and non-verbal. The non-verbal cues of communication can be a big learning curve to those who are unfamiliar with Japan’s “speak with your eyes and not your mouths” method of communication.
Japanese culture has a whole other level to communicating that does not included making sounds. They are very attune to what their bodies are saying and what others’ bodies are saying to them. The people of Japan pay close attention to their mouths, hands and facial expression are communication. This may be a big eye-opener to anyone coming into their environment unaware of what their own body language is expressing.
Canadian’s are known for being friendly, self-deprecating and apologetic. Aside from the fact they have two official languages, it can be said that Canadians are very articulate and easy to talk to. Canadian can sometimes be deemed as indirect in their verbal communication as they wish not to offend or insult anyone. Canadians could be considered a lot like Americans in their easy-going nature.
Both Canadian and Japanese business women face many of the same challenges when entering the workforce. Both countries’ women face discrimination as far as their abilities to perform. They are also less likely to hold upper management positions. Business women in both countries are more likely to hold clerical positions than CEO or top manager.
Since the economic downturn of 2008, it has been women who have experienced less employment compared to their male counterparts. In an effort on both countries’ part to encourage economic recovery, more women have been employed and remained employed. Another area of business where women have experience success since the recession is in entrepreneurship.
In any business, regardless of geography, how well the business is servicing its’ customers will dictate success. It is here were Canada and Japan differ greatly. It would appear in the customer service realm of business, Japan not only talks the talk but walks the walk. It would be wise for all businesses to take note of the efforts Japan makes to meet their customer expectations and needs.
In Japan, customers are not solely a means of revenue. Customers are kings and queens and need to be treated as such. Every effort is made to make the customer’s experience a pleasant and enjoyable one. This need for long-term relationship building in business is not just a policy for personnel but customers, too. Japanese business culture is not about closing the deal but opening the door to creating superior customer relationship.
With more and more customers doing their shopping on-line, the western world needs to revamp its’ approach to customer service to get customers off their devices and into their stores. North America’s has many large “big-box” stores and it can be very hard to find personnel to help with customer service. Even if one is found, it’s a gamble as to the degree of helpful service attainable. Long gone are the days of “service with a smile” and “the customer is always right”. The western world should definitely take a few pointers from Japan’s approach to customer service.
No matter where on the globe you are doing business, it is safe to say the globalized business world can learn a lot from each other as far as diversity and approaches to business. With the introduction of globalization to the business environment, it has never been more important to learn, appreciate and embrace different culture’s values and traditions. If we all make an effort to utilize the best approaches to handling business from all areas of world, we will create not only a superior work experience but better working environment.