Friday, April 5, 2013

Ken-Bun-Ki "Employee Transfers"

 Note: "Russell's Ken-Bun-Ki" is a series of articles I wrote for my Japanese City Hall newsletter back in 1996-97. They were articles about life in America or life in Japan as experienced by an American. This one is from April 10, 1997. 

As of April 1 we have started a new fiscal year. This brings various job transfers, right? School teachers have transferred in and out, and company employees have moved to different departments or branches. Everyone in Japan thinks this type of job transfers are normal, but in the United States they are virtually unheard of.

First of all, regarding school teachers moving, because there is no national Ministry of Education that controls these things, there no set job transfer policy between schools in the US. Every school in America is run independently. In each town or city the school superintendent, the school principal, and the teacher him/herself decides on transfers. Therefore if the teacher does not ask for a transfer, one almost never occurs.

It is not that company employees do not have any transfers, but not to the extent that occurs in Japan. For example, an associate good with numbers and strong in accounting doesn't get moved out of that section. And a person who has a way with words and phrases is kept in a field to take advantage of that talent. Each associate's ability and history are taken into account when considering transfers. Also, bosses tend to listen to their associates' requests. They do not move people to new jobs who have no interest in new challenges. Each transfer order is given after sounding out the intention of the associate in question. There are almost no individual postings away from your family. Working for the company away from your family is practically unheard of in America.

And if there is a transfer along with a promotion, the associate will often go home and talk it over with his/her spouse before answering. Maybe half of these types of promotions are turned down?

This is another one of the columns that I think I need to explain to my American audience. In Japan, the Ministry of Education (Mon-Bu-Sho) runs the entire nation of public schools, elementary to secondary (middle) to high. They control who works where and who gets promoted to be principals (and who doesn't). So every March teachers who are on "the fast track" get moved from school to school. In places like Miyazaki, where I lived for 14 years, all teachers get shuffled around from so-called "town" schools and "city" schools so that they can experience "both sides of the track." 

Likewise, in companies people who have worked in the accounting department get transferred to the agricultural section. People in the tax section get moved to the education section. In my office, which was the town hall,  it was more dramatic because everyone was hired in as non-specialists. However, the man who ended up being the Superintendent of Education was originally a farmer and spent most of his career in the agricultural department. And he had the nerve to tell ME how to better teach kids English! (sigh)

In Japan there is a term for workers (men) who are sent to a different branch office to live alone while his family stays in their hometown. Can you imagine? Even now, as I work for a Honda supplier, I find men who live here in the US as their wives and children stay in Japan. Un-be-lievable. 

No comments:

Post a Comment