We just finished a coaching program for a Japanese manager at an American company in Tokyo. He had been struggling to participate effectively in the company’s worldwide leadership development program in the US. The HQ HR team reported back to the Japan office that T-san was quiet, had not expressed his opinions well and was not giving a good impression.
Previous intervention efforts with T-san had focused on “How to express your opinion,” and “How to interrupt,” and “How to conduct small-talk in English,” etc. But these had not had any impact.
When we met T-san we pushed a little deeper and found that English wasn’t the issue. Instead he needed to know about: Creating the Vision/ Mission, Implementing Strategy, Developing high-performing organizations, Evaluating organizational capabilities, Organizational design, and so on.
In other words, the reason he wasn’t participating well was because of a gap in his knowledge, rather than his inability to express an opinion in English.
So, we ran a series of one-on-one coaching sessions on those subjects as way of giving him the necessary background to feel confident about participating more proactively.
The result: the latest feedback from HQ HR was “T-san was much, much better then before. He was participating really well throughout the workshop. Very impressive change.”
As a coach, it is great to know that the work you did received such a favourable response, and it’s a good reminder that developing solutions to meet the client’s true needs is essential for a successful outcome.
Finally, for HR professionals in Japan a good learning point is that not all problems are because of English level – there may be other reasons or underlying factors that can be resolved through one-on-one coaching.