Client case studies:Case study on organizational development at a Japanese arm of a global manufacturer T Corporation

T Corporation is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of machine tools, headquartered in Europe and employs around 10,000 people worldwide. Mr. H, President of the Japanese arm of T Corporation (hereafter referred to as “T Japan”) asked Kazuyoshi Tomeoka in June 2015 to assist them in organizational development, primarily in human resources (hereafter referred to as “HR”). We asked Mr. H what changes were brought about at T Japan since then.

Challenges that foreign companies face in growing their businesses in Japan

 When I was assigned to T Japan about 25 years ago, our market share in Japan was only 1% and the number of client companies and maintenance engineers was small. Our product area is never without technical problems, and our response to technical problems makes a large difference. When clients in rural areas experienced technical problems, it took one day for our engineer to visit them at that time. However, our competitors were able to visit their clients in two hours from receiving a call. The ultimate solution to such problems is growing our business. Once I was appointed President of T Japan, we accelerated measures to address this problem, which proved effective and our market share rose to 10% ten years later.

However, we spent years of trial and error in the HR area. While talent management is the key to business success, we did not have a system for staff training and development, hiring and employment in place. Therefore, we had an imminent need to seek expert advice and develop a system to effectively manage HR in a foreign company operating in Japan. We needed to develop a system for HR management that is suitable for Japan and meets global standards as we are a local arm of a global company. We looked for someone who would help us develop a system that meets these two requirements and thereby grow our businesses.

We appointed Mr. Tomeoka as advisory consultant in June 2015. He started his career at Sony Corporation as a member of the Human Resources Department at its headquarters and later on directed the company’s marketing effort at overseas offices. He then worked as a consultant at a global executive search firm and went on to set up his own company. We decided to appoint Mr. Tomeoka as consultant since I found his executive coaching program very helpful. He delivered substantial results in less than a year. If you look at T Japan’s management practices, you will probably notice that Mr. Tomeoka has utilized his experience at Sony, particularly in managing local staff and building businesses at overseas offices (Hong Kong and London).

Ability to communicate with T Corporation’s global headquarters as well as local staff

 While Mr. Tomeoka is capable of communicating effectively in English, he is not only fluent in English but is also capable of speaking a common language in the HR area that is used by global companies, which is his strength. As an independent evaluator, he reported the performance of senior executives and staff of T Japan to Managing Director of Human Resources at T Corporation’s global headquarters. His report was accurate and quickly deepened headquarters’ understanding of its Japanese operations, which was very helpful for T Japan.

The results of T Japan’s employee satisfaction survey conducted by global headquarters for the first time in 2015 revealed various issues. Mr. Tomeoka proposed measures to address these issues, which to our surprise were virtually identical to the proposal by Managing Director of Human Resources at T Corporation’s headquarters.

Moreover, Mr. Tomeoka has diligently gathered firsthand information from field service engineers and salespeople based at our offices in each region. He understands the difficulties faced by local staff as well as what motivates them, exerts a positive influence on their commitment to achieve goals, and offers practical advice to senior executives based on his findings.

We also made significant progress in developing a system for hiring as well as staff training and development. We searched for training companies for three years without success, but once we asked Mr. Tomeoka for help, we managed to select two companies in three months with his broad network of contacts. This demonstrates that he is a true expert on organizational development.

Support based on deep understanding of the human mind

After all, Mr. Tomeoka has a deep understanding of the human mind, is able to discuss psychological and philosophical issues, and capable of persistently communicating with each person at all levels from senior executives to staff. I am a logical thinker and will stop when the other person says “I understand your point.” However, Mr. Tomeoka has always stressed the importance of “persistence”, “repetition” and “emotional aspects”. I learnt from him that these factors are essential for building and maintaining positive interpersonal relationships.

My current goal is to triple the size of T Japan’s businesses in the next ten years. While we would hire new employees, I would like all members of staff to undertake continuing professional development. There is still substantial room for improvement in T Japan’s HR function. I would like Mr. Tomeoka to guide us for a few more years until we are able to do everything by ourselves and continue to assist us in developing organizational systems, which will be our most valuable assets. As President of T Japan, I will continue to make every effort to grow our businesses, while Mr. Tomeoka’s presence would provide a strong support.