If there’s one rule that the Tokyo sales team lives by, it’s: bring your ideas to the table. “Everyone wants to contribute,” says Masashi Murase, vice president and managing director of ServiceNow’s Tokyo office. Across ServiceNow, we know him as Murase-san and you can often find him encouraging his colleagues to share “war stories” with each other, appreciate their wins, and band together to solve customer challenges.
Murase-san joined ServiceNow in 2016 after several years with HP and iGATE Global Solutions, where he frequently traveled overseas to manage sales teams. The trips were eye-opening for him: As someone steeped in Japan’s insular work culture—where openness about personal successes, failures, and career fulfillment is not common—Murase-san saw an exhilarating new dynamic to the culture at ServiceNow.
“I saw that business is nothing without its people,” Murase-san recalls. “Certainly, your products and services are important. But when people have the mindset that they are an important part of the value chain—and when you recognize their good work—the business will always succeed.”
A new team mindset
On Murase-san’s first day on the job, he went to a sales kickoff meeting and suggested everyone get up on stage with him for a big group cheer to acknowledge their work. “They didn’t seem excited,” he recalls.
He realized his sales team needed a new attitude: one that kept the best of Japan’s traditional hard-working and highly focused culture and added in new schemes for sparking excitement and enthusiasm about work and accomplishments.
“I decided the next year, everyone would be on the stage with me,” Murase-sansays. He began regularly awarding people for hitting key milestones. He also tried a little managing-by-walking-around: He roamed the halls at the Tokyo office, talking one-on-one to everyone in sales. He took employees to lunch in groups of 10—and quizzed them on everything but business.
“I wanted them to know who I was, and I wanted to learn about them,” Murase-san says. He also launched an employee satisfaction survey, and made a point to ask team members about their career plans.