There is this Japanese guy I have been doing extra `business` with recently. We get along well enough and he really is a decent guy to pal around with most of the time. Sometimes, we talk about stuff. I guess he is just as curious about my culture as I am of his. The little extra business we do together usually does not work out so well. It must be the current market situation which is making it hard for us to score some extra bread. So, we chat it up a lot. We talk about a lot of stuff. Usually the conversation is interesting and sometimes eye opening. The last time we were out and about `business` did not go so well, again, so we ended up chatting.
The subject of my recent promotion and the way Japanese run their business became the topic for the evening. I mentioned to him that since my promotion the office ladies have been treating me a little different. They have really warmed up to me in recent weeks. I asked him if there was any reason for their change in attitude towards me. He said that maybe they view me as a father figure of sorts. His statement shocked me, yet peaked my interest. I asked him to explain in more detail why they would view my crazy ass as a father figure. His answer surprised me, while giving me a inside look concerning the nature of a Japanese company.
He said that in Japan the people you work with are viewed as family. From what he says most Japanese people are hired as a generalist after finishing college; which means a person who can do anything the company asks of them. They usually get moved around the company every two or three years until they have worked in just about every department. After they have mastered all the different parts of the company they can get a very high position. He went on to say that the boss or manager is viewed as a father/mother to those under him/her. Despite me being gaijin, Japanese would most likely still be inclined to view me as kind of a father figure, though not as strongly as a japanese man.
It is hard for me to wrap my head around the idea of being viewed as a father figure in the eyes of the people I work with daily. I don`t know how closely this kind of thinking is followed in my company. After all, I am gaijin. However they view me, it is nice to be treated with at least a little respect at work. I guess I will just enjoy the habit of the Japanese to view a manager as some kind of so-called father figure. Hell, I might even be able to get some twisted humor out of the situation.