During her training sessions in Japan, Sakurai will ask managers to complete a homework assignment: write down 10 comments of positive feedback about a subordinate.
“People really struggle with that one,” Sakurai says. “Maybe they come back with five or six. And then most of them are something like ‘not bad’ or ‘good enough.’ They just can’t get in the mindset of positive feedback.”
That said, younger workers, especially in Japan, may appreciate a kind word from the boss when things go right, Sakurai says. And, very slowly, things are beginning to change in Japan, with a few companies adopting collaborative and communicative management styles. Foreign managers working there for the first time may test the waters of positive fīdobakku.
“If you go around and keep telling your employees ‘terrific job,’ they’re going to wonder what’s wrong. Because, they’ll think, what’s terrific about doing your job? That’s what you’re supposed to do,” Sakurai says.