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.
Ideas from everyone
When employees feel good about their skills and are supported by team leaders, they feel free to speak up and contribute in meaningful ways. People on ServiceNow’s Tokyo team say that this dynamic—where ideas percolate up from everyone, regardless of seniority—is fostering a new spirit of individual and team success.
Solution Consultant Yohei Tsujinaka is a believer. His job is to uncover customers’ pain points and propose solutions. “We work together with customers on product adoption, and get to witness their digital transformation and business success,” he explains.
Compared with previous jobs, the biggest difference with ServiceNow, Yohei says, “is that we have an open communication culture. It’s really great that we can all exchange opinions without worrying about organizational hierarchy or each other’s positions.”
This matters to Yohei because he’s the youngest solution consultant on the sales team. “I often get advice from the senior team members,” he says. “That’s what makes me happy to be here—I’m learning a lot from people, and I feel like it’s driving my professional development.”
Senior Solution Consultant Hiroko Takezawa came to the Tokyo office in 2018, looking to strengthen her knowledge of enterprise cloud solutions. The “everyone can contribute” culture that Murase-san has fostered got her attention right away.
“There’s an atmosphere of sharing here—both success stories and failures,” Hiroko says. “And there’s communication about our individual experiences.”
Earlier this year, Hiroko closed a major sales deal in part because she called on other experts across the Tokyo office to support her pitch. “That was a great experience,” Hiroko recalls. “It’s an example of why our team sharing dynamic works so well.”
In the three years since Murase-san joined, the Tokyo sales team has blossomed into a much more confident and open group. It’s no surprise, then, to learn that at Masahi’s second annual sales kickoff meeting, everyone got on stage for the big cheer. “That’s what we’re creating here,” Masahi says. “Employees are getting global recognition for their work, they have more confidence, and we’re building a team together.”
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