‘The right man for the job’ is a commonly used expression. Within Japanese society, the implication of this expression for a business is that the company, or personnel department, places the employee in a place that it considers suitable. However, Akio Morita advocated that the employees themselves should go where they felt was right for them.
“In America, people chose the ‘right job’ for themselves. It’s not necessary for the employer to think that a specific person has certain skills and should be placed in a certain role. If the person doesn’t fit, they make a move themselves, and finding the ‘right job’ is the responsibility of the individual.
In Japan it is often considered the management’s responsibility. But I think this is a big mistake. In the end it is up to each person to take responsibility in thinking where they are ‘the right person for the job’.(Sangyo Shincho, July 1969)
Being ‘the right person for the job’ means that if one feels that their current position is not for them, they need to make a positive pitch to getting themselves transferred to a place that suits them. Akio strongly emphasized that in order to allow this to happen, companies need to introduce a system that listens to the wishes of employees.
This system was realized at Sony through the internal hiring system. Whenever there was a vacancy in any section of the company, recruitment took place companywide. Anyone that had been in their present position for more than 2 years had the right to apply and their application remain anonymous. If they weren’t accepted for the position, it remained discreet. Furthermore, the company had a self report system where they had to report on their accomplishments twice a year and consult with their superior on their future goal plans. With this system employees report on what they think is a suitable position for them, and if accepted, are transferred to that position. Under this system, even if an engineer wants to transfer to a completely unrelated field, such as marketing, it is possible.
“Under the internal hiring system and self reporting system, the employees’ wishes are respected and in the case of interviewing for an internal position, the interview is not reported to the employees’ superiors. In the case of being hired, the superior can not block the decision. 200 employees a year are transferred under this system.” (Current Head of Personnel, Sony)
This system is based on position of Akio Morita that ‘the individual should decide where they are the right person for the job’ and Sony itself stands as proof that such a reality is possible.
From:The Sayings of Akio Morita, published by Sony Magazines.