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This is a very important and useful topic in the field of Well-Being. Thanks for starting it, Alison.

Bullying from subordinates is quietly discussed in Japan. It is rampant. Japanese organizations are usually top down dictatorships. The infamous consensus ("nemawashi") in the system is useful in collecting information and rallying opinion but do not mistake that for who tells who what to do without question.

In response, subordinates invest tremendous amounts of energy into elaborate schemes to harrass their bosses. They even use the consensus model to rally support behind themselves and enact schemes where the initial source is effectively covered.

On the other side, management style is often to belittle and yell at subordinates. Subordinates carry out (or covertly don't carry out) instructions from their bosses. The heavy drinking that goes on at the end of the day in Japan is a symptom of having no open outlet to respond to this constant pressure.

My theory is that subordinates' harassment of their bosses is a reaction to their feeling of being powerless.

My solution, as a CEO in Japan based organizations, was to provide regular open forums, gathering employees by department (but without the boss of the department), small groups and one on one, to elicit and let them voice their concerns and opinions. It was important to keep the level of the group similar because if their boss is in the room, many Japanese employees will not speak up.

International Women’s Lifestyle, Work & Empowerment by Linda Sherman

July 8, 2008 - 11:04am


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