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The Nemawashi Way: The Key To Employee Engagement And Decision Making

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Updated Mar 13, 2024, 09:37am EDT

One of the most critical aspects of scaling a business is ensuring your team is on the same page. You will only make significant changes to your business with your team coming with you on your journey.

To ensure that your team is on the same page with you and values the path they will travel, you must establish the roots of communication and trust.

In Japanese business management, there is a term for collaboration and gaining influence with your employees called Nemawashi.

According to the Asian Media Centre, the word Nemawashi translates to 'working around the roots'; this concept relates to when a tree is transplanted to take great care with each root to ensure maximum survivability when the tree is transplanted.

In the West, when making decisions, we often use consensus building to describe getting everyone on the same page to produce a maximally effective result.

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The Essence of Nemawashi In Business

As a business owner, one fact remains constant: change is inevitable. Business market changes, consumer behavior changes, geopolitical policy changes, and other external influences can force a business to adjust, the most recent being the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although it can be challenging to adapt to the changing environment, you can succeed with high-level communication with your employees, getting their feedback and then turning their feedback into a functional roadmap for them to progress towards their specific goals.

The statistics on the breakdown in communication and collaboration are clear: 86% of corporate Executives, educators, and employees cite ineffective communication and poor collaboration as reasons for failures in the workplace.

The principles of nemawashi help build trust, increase communication, help employees feel collaborative, and reduce stress and confusion.

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3 Steps To Implement Nemawashi In Your Business

1.) Build trust and open communication: the first implementation in your business is letting your employees know that their opinions and ideas are valuable to the company. You must create a method for creating employee feedback loops and gathering information through one-on-one meetings and open small-group discussions

2.) Involve everyone in decision-making: You can garner their feedback in real time by creating brainstorming sessions and utilizing project management tools that allow employees to generate feedback.

3.) Creating a culture of respect: you must let all employees know that all feedback is welcome, no matter their position in the company. Showing respect for ideas and feedback, no matter where it comes from, is crucial to your company's long-term success.

Case Study Of A Company That Implements Nemawashi

Toyota uses nemawashi in its production planning with its employees. They spend more than double the time eliciting employee feedback than their American counterparts. As a result, they dramatically reduce implementation mistakes, often associated with a short collaboration cycle during production.

Alex Warren, former Senior Vice President of manufacturing, stated, "American companies will spend about three months on planning, then they'll begin to implement; however, over the same period, Toyota would spend nine or ten months planning, then implement in a small way. By the time they are fully implemented there are virtually no problems".

Reflect On Your Level Of Communication

Take inventory of how you manage your collaborative process in your business. The most excellent resource in your business is your employees. By including them in your business's decision-making process, you will build a rich, collaborative environment where they can thrive and feel like they are a part of the company's future.

It's essential to get buy-in from your employees because that creates loyalty. The best time to start this process is now. Take your time getting your employees involved and watch the roots of the tree you plant with your employees blossom into positive revenue growth for your business.

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