BBC | Why you don’t give praise in Japan

Jim Whittle, head of our Tokyo office, is featured in BBC News for an extensive story on the topic of managing in Japan. We thought you would find the piece of interest.

In “Why you don’t give praise in Japan”, reporter Eric Barton features Whittle prominently:

Foreign managers who don’t adjust simply won’t fit in. Jim Whittle found that out the hard way. Back when Whittle was general manager overseeing Japan for McVities Digestive Biscuits, he had an employee who came up with a novel idea. She suggested handing out samples in subway stations, exposing the product to thousands of potential customers. The company saw a spike in sales afterward, so Whittle decided to recognise his employee for her brilliant idea. In front of her team, Whittle noted that she had developed a successful, unique idea that went beyond the norm, which usually involved spending advertising money on simply more coupons and billboards…

…Now, Whittle works in the Tokyo office of RSR Partners, an executive search firm. He often works with foreign managers, prepping them for working in Japan. “Unlike elsewhere, you can’t just come in and expect to be accepted based on your past successes,” Whittle says. “It’s all about building trust, and it’s all about building relationships.”

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