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At the Center of Payhem

Cultural differences, things lost in translation, eye-opening practices…

With members representing over 40 countries, there really is no such thing as “common sense” or “the correct answer” here at PayPay. There are as many perspectives, perceptions, and business practices as there are languages and cultures. Nonetheless, we still manage to create new value, hacking our way through all the chaos by unwavering communication. In fact, we cherish this frenzied enterprise as an important aspect of PayPay’s culture.

Read on to see what we make of “DIFFERENT OPINIONS” and “MEETINGS” and “FEEDBACK” and “Saying NO” and “Work Life Balance” at PayPay, and don’t miss out on new topics and voices that will be added on a regular basis. Lo and behold the world of Payhem.

Payhem about “DIFFERENT OPINIONS”

UPDATE


Yoshimitsu [Engineer]

NO OPINIONS

【Payhem I’ve encountered】
In my opinion, a great product is the result of an exchange of different opinions and reflecting that in a continuous string of iterations. But sometimes, there aren’t that many opinions to begin with

【My approach to Payhem】
I try to make sure everyone feels safe about speaking out, for example by asking what they’re concerned about or what problems they see, or at other times, intentionally present a completely different perspective


Justin [Translator]

NO OPINIONS

【Payhem I’ve encountered】
Some people are very vocal about their opinions (it may be a cultural thing), while other times no one says anything, and it’s hard to tell whether they’re not interested or simply don’t have an opinion

【My approach to Payhem】
I might say something that would likely elicit words of disagreement from others to make it easier for everyone to speak


John [Engineer]

AFRAID

【Payhem I’ve encountered】
In my previous job, the leader would do everything from explaining the problem right to presenting a solution, without asking for any input from the team. He was the kind of guy who would get offended if someone said something different. We tried to work around the leader’s idea, by implementing it or incorporating it with our own solution

【My approach to Payhem】
I changed jobs. (laughs) I now try to do what the leaders at PayPay do; I listen to other members’ opinions to figure out the best way to do things. I believe that we need to be open-minded and welcome new ideas and suggestions


Justin [Translator]

COMMUNICATION BY PERSON

【Payhem I’ve encountered】
When I lived abroad, if I said something in a roundabout way, people would ask, “What are you trying to say?” In Japan, though, if I go straight to the point, I notice that some people tend to find that too direct

【My approach to Payhem】
I change the way I communicate depending on the person. Especially in Japanese, I consider what kind of tone and vocabulary would be appropriate for each person I communicate with


John [Engineer]

COMMUNICATION BY PERSON

【Payhem I’ve encountered】
Some people can get hurt simply because they’re not familiar with certain ways of communication

【My approach to Payhem】
I try to change the way I speak or the way I make suggestions based on the other person’s accustomed way of communication. For example, when I was working with someone from the US, I was very direct and explained only what he wanted, because I could see that was how he wanted to communicate


Yoshimitsu [Engineer]

COMMUNICATION BY PERSON

【Payhem I’ve encountered】
In retrospect, there are people that I’m very direct with – I can simply say NO if it’s not good, even if they’re Japanese. For some other people, I communicate things in a much more detailed manner, offering guidance on everything from what the issue is to how to reach a conclusion

【My approach to Payhem】
Not that it’s a very conscious effort, but I guess I change the way I communicate depending on what kind of a relationship I have with the person


Justin [Translator]

AFRAID

【Payhem I’ve encountered】
In Asia, there may be a tendency to maintain the appearance of authority. Looking back to my time at Japanese schools, for example, I got the impression that some teachers were afraid that students would ask questions they couldn’t answer

【My approach to Payhem】
In Western universities, professors actively encouraged students to raise questions and objections, and sometimes even incorporated students’ thinking into their own research papers. While authority should be respected, I would rather have discussions this way


John [Engineer]

LOGICAL THINKING

【Payhem I’ve encountered】
Sometimes I see people say things without any supporting evidence or logic. They let their emotions take over when they argue

【My approach to Payhem】
When I present something, I try to collect as many facts as possible in advance so that I’m fully equipped


Justin [Translator]

LOGICAL THINKING

【Payhem I’ve encountered】
When searching the internet in English, websites specializing in one subject or research papers appear at the top of the search results. But when searching in Japanese, blogs and Q&A sites appear. It seems like in Japan, people tend to believe other people’s opinions rather than researched facts

【My approach to Payhem】
It’s good to have questions. I communicate with that idea in mind

Payhem about “WORK LIFE BALANCE”

UPDATE


Amogh [Engineer]

COORDINATION

【Payhem I’ve encountered】
At my previous job, many colleagues said they could only spend time with their family on weekends

【My approach to Payhem】
Working from home solves this problem mostly. Regular work planning with the team helps reduce overtime work as well


Ashwini [Engineer]

COORDINATION

【Payhem I’ve encountered】
I was asked to work a shift from 1:00am to 5:00am to run production environment tests, back when we were working in the office. That meant I had to go into the office late at night, which made me a bit uncomfortable

【My approach to Payhem】
Although people around me worked the same shift even if they were not happy about it, I was honest about my concerns with my boss, who understood my situation and rearranged my shift


Makoto [HR]

BE CONSCIOUS OF TIME

【Payhem I’ve encountered】
I had to participate in all sorts of interviews when I was on the hiring team, which left little freedom for me to plan my schedule. I ended up working longer hours

【My approach to Payhem】
I try to set myself up so that I can control my workload. I also make a conscious effort to complete my tasks as quickly as I can


Amogh [Engineer]

BE CONSCIOUS OF TIME

【Payhem I’ve encountered】
I used to work excessive hours in my previous job, for example, 9:00am to 11:00pm. I did not eat well or exercise properly. It went on like that for about a year. I didn’t realize the effects it would cause to my health, because I was a new graduate and didn’t have any work experience

【My approach to Payhem】
I changed jobs. (laughs) I didn’t know what the “norm” was back then. Changing jobs widened my horizon


Ashwini [Engineer]

BE CONSCIOUS OF TIME

【Payhem I’ve encountered】
It becomes difficult to separate work and personal life when a project has a very tight timeline. With a particular project, I was so busy that I wasn’t eating well, so I ended up exhausted both mentally and physically

【My approach to Payhem】
Separating work and personal life to me means respecting my “Me time.” When I’m done for the day, I don’t check my phone unless my boss asks me to be on standby. “Me Time” for me involves cooking, reading and going out


Makoto [HR]

BE CONSCIOUS OF TIME

【Payhem I’ve encountered】
In my previous job, I would often receive messages over the weekend, which I would respond to

【My approach to Payhem】
I try to draw a clear line between work and personal life. I don’t check slack messages or emails after work if possible, and instead focus on my tasks during the day


Amogh [Engineer]

BE CONSCIOUS OF TIME

【Payhem I’ve encountered】
I love developing software. It’s work and a hobby at the same time. So, there are times when I keep thinking about my tasks even after work

【My approach to Payhem】
This may not be a solution, but after having a baby, I got into the habit of putting my family cap on when I’m spending time with them. No matter how much you love your work, it’s important to draw the line somewhere


Ashwini [Engineer]

BE CONSCIOUS OF TIME

【Payhem I’ve encountered】
When the timeline did not factor in different time zones. It was hard to just get together to talk about requirements and other things. It took us forever just to be on the same page

【My approach to Payhem】
I ended up flying to the site in the end and stayed there for several weeks to get things done. (laughs)


Amogh [Engineer]

WORK FROM HOME

【Payhem I’ve encountered】
Working from home was something very new for me, so it was difficult to separate work and personal life in the beginning

【My approach to Payhem】
It takes a bit of practice to separate the two. I need to keep reminding myself, for example, not to check slack messages after work. But I think I’m much better at doing it now!


Ashwini [Engineer]

WORK FROM HOME

【Payhem I’ve encountered】
Having a baby around when working from home makes it difficult to concentrate at times

【My approach to Payhem】
I take turns with my husband to take care of the baby. I also work at night after she goes to sleep so that I can focus on my work

SAYING NO


Harsh [Engineer]

SORTING IT OUT

【Payhem I’ve encountered】
Finding out right at the last minute a task can’t be completed because someone didn’t say “No” to something that really had to be rescheduled or dropped

【My approach to Payhem】
Make a clear distinction between “I can/can’t” and “I’ll do my best”


Jonathan [IT Control]

SORTING IT OUT

【Payhem I’ve encountered】
Sometimes people can’t say “No” because they don’t know where the blockers are or what the goal is

【My approach to Payhem】
You have to say “here’s the expectation or here’s the goal.” If someone hasn’t reached this goal, you have to become comfortable with communicating to the individual that they haven’t met the goal. This gives you along with the individual a good opportunity to discuss what could have been done differently or what next steps should be taken


Chizuko [Business]

SORTING IT OUT

【Payhem I’ve encountered】
Sometimes people cannot make proper judgement because they lack information as to how they impact other people and their job if delayed

【My approach to Payhem】
It all comes down to information sharing and goal setting – setting a common goal for everyone, whether it’s a deadline, metrics, or release and making sure to communicate that information with everyone


Harsh [Engineer]

YOUR BOSS

【Payhem I’ve encountered】
Not saying “No” to your boss

【My approach to Payhem】
There are always times when you need to say “No” to your supervisor. I tell new members it’s okay to do this


Jonathan [IT Control]

BEING HONEST

【Payhem I’ve encountered】
It isn’t easy to say “No” to each other

【My approach to Payhem】
Honest communication is important, whether the message is positive or negative. We have to understand that there is a difference between being respected and being liked within the workplace


Harsh [Engineer]

BEING HONEST

【Payhem I’ve encountered】
It can be difficult to offer criticism in Japan, including saying “No”

【My approach to Payhem】
I say in a friendly way, “please do it like this next time,” “please do it better,” “please consider this too”


Taiki [Business]

AS A VIRTUE

【Payhem I’ve encountered】
Some people say “I’m fine” when things aren’t actually fine

【My approach to Payhem】
I ask “Are you guys doing OK?” or “Are there any problems?” when I am worried if they really are doing OK


Chizuko [Business]

AS A VIRTUE

【Payhem I’ve encountered】
There’s a tendency in Japan to say neither “Yes” or “No.” Most things happen in the gray area between black and white. Almost nothing is very good or very bad. Even for the Japanese who are used to this, it can be difficult to understand someone’s true intentions

【My approach to Payhem】
I apply pressure by asking “Is this or that done?” or “Is that a Yes or a No?” I believe doing this helps to elicit the realization that it’s important to speak clearly


Chizuko [Business]

BEING HONEST

【Payhem I’ve encountered】
We do not have an environment where we can say “No” and give critical feedback

【My approach to Payhem】
Being specific works best. I ask the person to come up with their own ideas on what to do next by saying things like, “this is what happened right, why was that again? Let’s try and think about what to do together.” Give critical feedback on things but not on the person

Payhem about “FEEDBACK”

UPDATE


Harsh [Engineer]

FREQUENCY

[Payhem I’ve encountered]
Timely feedback is rare. For example, you can’t correlate feedback to something that happened 6 months ago.

[My approach to Payhem]
Immediate feedback is crucial to correlating and understanding.


Jonathan [IT Control]

READING THE AIR

[Payhem I’ve encountered]
Things become increasingly ambiguous when people “read the air.”

[My approach to Payhem]
Clearly say whether something is right or wrong. Or let them know what improvements can be made next time. Feedback may be given for any situation and should be considered a constructive way to promote growth, improvement, and as a way to effectively collaborate among teams and individuals.


Harsh [Engineer]

NOT USED TO IT

[Payhem I’ve encountered]
Many are not used to feedback from their bosses, but there are even less people used to receiving feedback from colleagues and subordinates.

[My approach to Payhem]
Build relationships between you and your bosses or your colleagues that allows for honest feedback, both good and bad.


Taiki [Business]

NOT USED TO IT

[Payhem I’ve encountered]
Some people might think that they are being attacked when they receive feedback.

[My approach to Payhem]
When you give feedback, it’s important that it’s not aimed at the person but at their actions or the situation.


Harsh [Engineer]

NOT USED TO IT

[Payhem I’ve encountered]
You need to be very careful how to word your feedback, avoiding direct feedback and asking questions instead.

[My approach to Payhem]
The more often constructive feedback happens, the more easily people will get used to feedback.

Payhem in “MEETINGS”


Chizuko [Business]

FACILITATION

[Payhem I’ve Encountered]
Facilitators of long-winded meetings tend to ask “this is the problem we have – what do you think?”

[My Approach to Payhem]
Facilitators should focus on what needs to be done to solve the problem


Jonathan [IT Control]

FACILITATION

[Payhem I’ve Encountered]
There’s really no need to read out aloud materials in a meeting

[My Approach to Payhem]
Materials should be shared in advance so that the meeting is focused on discussing key points or how to drive actions


Taiki [Business]

DECISION MAKING & PARTICIPATION

[Payhem I’ve Encountered]
A top-down business tends to take away the power to decide from individuals or make it difficult to share challenges

[My Approach to Payhem]
Make sure participants have the power to make a decision


Harsh [Engineer]

DECISION MAKING & PARTICIPATION

[Payhem I’ve Encountered]
In Japan, the meeting goes on until everyone agrees

[My Approach to Payhem]
Only those who are truly involved or who have the power to make a decision should participate in a meeting


Harsh [Engineer]

FAILING

[Payhem I’ve Encountered]
It’s hard to make a decision straight away because in Japan everyone wants to go with the “safe” approach

[My Approach to Payhem]
Mistakes and failures need to be allowed to promote timely decisions and swift action


Linsai [PM]

OTHER CULTURES

[Payhem I’ve Encountered]
I’ve been in meetings where people avoid trying to come across as harsh when someone says something stupid

[My Approach to Payhem]
If someone says something stupid people point it out straight away where I’m from, but here, I subtly raise a question so that the person realizes the problem


Chizuko [Business]

OTHER CULTURES

[Payhem I’ve Encountered]
Working at one company for your whole life is still relatively common in Japan, so there are people with experience in just one work environment

[My Approach to Payhem]
We have it lucky at PayPay – there are so many people with different backgrounds, there’s that many opportunities to share & learn different and effective meeting styles


Taiki [Business]

OTHER CULTURES

[Payhem I’ve Encountered]
OJT is still quite common in Japan, which means you’re not all that exposed to different ways of holding meetings

[My Approach to Payhem]
Studying different styles of holding/facilitating meetings makes a difference