Japanese woman works in a panic; two bosses stand behind her with body language for poor psychological safety in the workplace
iStock/kazuma seki

Influencer Marketing

Expand your reach and engage with your target audience using this trending technique that blends celebrity endorsements with social media marketing.

Leading High Performing Remote Teams

How can leaders ensure that performance remains high in remote or hybrid-work environments?

Design Thinking

Learn the 5 phases of this problem-solving methodology and switch from technology-centered to user-centered thinking.


Learn what reciprocity is and how it can motivate people and boost sales.

Gantt Chart

Invented in the early 20th century, the Gantt Chart is one of the building blocks of modern project management. In this online course, you'll learn how this tool can be used effectively to monitor progress and achieve your team's goals.

Navigating Change Successfully

The working landscape is continually shifting and being disrupted, so how to employees maintain a sense of stability? Listen to CEO and president of Carl ZEISS Japan Stefan Sacre share his expertise on dealing with change in organizations and entire industries.

Halo Effect

The halo effect is often leveraged for marketing and promotion. But as a type of cognitive bias, it can also have a subconscious impact on decision-making in the workplace. Learn why and (how to overcome it) in this online course.

Anchoring and Framing

Want to increase your confidence during negotiations? Master the principles of anchoring and framing to take your negotiation skills to the next level.


Understanding ZOPA and BATNA will help you become a better negotiator, create more value, and feel more confident at the table.

Content Marketing

In this course, you’ll learn how compelling blogs, videos, podcasts, and other media can reach customers and drive sales. You’ll also learn steps for creating an effective content marketing plan, and some important ways to measure its impact and success.

Content marketing is a essential digital marketing strategy for companies looking to provide relevant and useful information to support your community and attract new customers.

Get started on your content marketing journey today.

Sustainable Innovation in Times of Disruption: Choices for a Better Society

There are opportunities for progress all around us. The key is to innovate on these opportunities sustainably.

To help identify most effective path forward, you'll need to gain a global perspective to these challenges in an open discussion. How can Japan and the world take action to create a more sustainable, innovative world? Where do you fit in?

It's time to find out.

Social Media & Digital Communications: Impact on Global Public Opinion

Social and digital media have dominated the communications industry for decades. But it's no secret that social media has the power to sway public opinion, and the way in which many companies use these platforms could be seen as manipulative.

What do companies need to be aware of when utilizing social and digital media? How can these mediums be used to better communicate strategically with the world?

Discover what top media and communications experts have to say.


Blockchain is one of the most captivating technologies out there. Learn what it is and how to make use of its opportunities in this short online course.

Mehrabian’s Rule

The 7-38-55 Rule, developed by Albert Mehrabian, suggests that effective communication relies less on the words we choose than on our tone of our voice, appearance, and body language. Learn how to put this theory to use for better communication in business.

Pareto Principle

Your time and resources are limited. Efficiency means learning to prioritize. The Pareto principle (also called the 80-20 rule) can help you identify the best way to use your time for maximum results.

Country Analysis Framework

Overseas expansion requires careful planning. The Country Analysis Framework can help you look beyond an industry-level analysis and reframe your view based on performance, strategy, and context. Try this short course to learn how it works.

SECI Model

The SECI model illustrates how knowledge is created and shared. Learn how to put it to use for best practices, and how the Japanese concept of “ba” fits in to broaden your perspective.

Johari Window Model

The Johari Window Model is a self-awareness framework that helps you better understand . . . you. Learn how its four quadrants can help you identify gaps between how you see yourself, and how others see you.

Sunk Costs

Wondering if you should continue an investment or look for something new? Sunk costs can have a powerful psychological impact on decision-making. Learn how to recognize them to ensure rational decisions.

CAGE Distance Framework

Want to expand overseas? The CAGE distance framework can help ensure you're constructing a solid global strategy in four areas: cultural, administrative, economic, and geographic. Learn how to leverage useful differences between countries, identify potential obstacles, and achieve global business success.


Groupthink refers to group pressure and the perception of consensus which together lead to ill-formed decisions—or even unnecessary risks. Learn to identify the warning signs of groupthink and apply countermeasures in this online course.

Deductive and Inductive Reasoning

Solving problems with the best results means using two types of thinking: deductive and inductive reasoning. In this online course, learn to form a broad premise, make observations, and form conclusions from different perspectives.

Critical Thinking: Hypothesis-Driven Thinking

Anyone can come up with a good idea. The real challenge is putting that idea into action. In this online course, explore how to form compelling, testable hypotheses and bring ideas to life in your own organization.

Critical Thinking: Structured Reasoning

Even a few simple techniques for logical decision making and persuasion can vastly improve your skills as a leader. Explore how critical thinking can help you evaluate complex business problems, reduce bias, and devise effective solutions.

Critical Thinking: Problem-Solving

Problem-solving is a central business skill, and yet it's the one many people struggle with most. This course will show you how to apply critical thinking techniques to common business examples, avoid misunderstandings, and get at the root of any problem.

How to Dream

Join globally renowned author and Columbia Business School professor Dr. Sheena Iyengar as she explains how to approach your dreams with a new perspective. Learn to reflect on what you long to accomplish and what stands in your way.

Logical Thinking

Logical thinking is at the heart of confident, persuasive decisions. This course will equip you with a five-point approach to more becoming a more logical thinker. Learn to classify ideas and distinguish fact from opinion.

Investing & Diversity: The Changing Faces of Venture Capitalists

Is the venture capital industry embracing diversity in investors? Watch global venture capitalists from around the world discuss the state of things and what needs to be done for a more inclusive future.

Servant Leadership

There's more to leadership than driving a team to profit. In fact, there's a word for looking beyond self-interest to prioritize individual growth: servant leadership. Try this course for a quick breakdown of what that is, how it works, and how it can lead to organizational success.

Organizational Behavior and Leadership

Ever wonder what makes a great leader? Whether your role requires leadership or not, understanding organizational behavior is useful for your career. This course from GLOBIS Unlimited can set you on your way.

Leadership vs. Management

Leadership and management are different skills, but today’s leaders must have both. Try out this course from GLOBIS Unlimited to understand the difference, as well as when and why each skill is necessary for motivation, communication, and value.

Strategy: Creating Value Inside Your Company

Have you ever wondered why certain companies are more successful than others? The answer is strategy: internal processes that control costs, allocate resources, and create value. This course from GLOBIS Unlimited can give you the tools you need for that strategic edge.

Strategy: Understanding the External Environment

To plan strategy on any level, you need to understand your company's external environment. In fact, your level of understanding can impact hiring, budgeting, marketing, or nearly any other part of the business world. Want to learn how to do all that? This course from GLOBIS Unlimited is the perfect first step!

Using Japanese Values to Thrive in Global Business

Japanese companies have unique cultural, communication, and operational challenges. But they also have values that have led to remarkable longevity. Check out this seminar to hear how these values help earn trust from overseas head offices and develop employees.

Turnaround Leadership: The Differences Between Japan and the West

What's the best way for leaders to communicate a shift in corporate strategy? How do you even know when it's time for such a change? This course explains how Japan might have one answer, Western companies another.

Conflict Management

Conflicts in the workplace are inevitable. But they can lead to positive outcomes if they’re managed well. Check out this online course for a two-step process that can help you manage conflict successfully.

Evernote Founder: How Tech Startups Can Break through in Japan

Can startup models from Hollywood and Silicon Valley succeed anywhere? Phil Libin, cofounder and CEO of startup incubator All Turtles, explains how AI can solve everyday problems to bring products to market.

Women Empowerment: Lessons from Cartier

How can women overcome gender inequality and reach their leadership goals? Cartier Japan CEO June Miyachi shares her secret in this special course from GLOBIS Unlimited.

Marketing: Reaching Your Target

Every company works hard to get its products into the hands of customers. Are you doing everything you can to compete? In this course, you’ll find a winning formula to turn a product idea into real sales. Follow along through the fundamentals of the marketing mix and see how companies successfully bring products to market.

Marketing Mix

Seeing good products into the hands of customers is no easy task. The marketing mix can help. It's a collection of strategies and tactics companies utilize to get customers to purchase their products or services, and is an essential part of the overall marketing process.

The Principles of Negotiation

With the proper skills and attitude, anyone can become a successful negotiator.  But first, you'll need to learn the basics to prepare for, assess, and respond to offers for the best results. GLOBIS Unlimited can help.

Negotiation: Creating Value

Want to create more shared value between yourself and your negotiation opponent? Discover how cognitive bias affects the judgment of others. Try this course from GLOBIS Unlimited to master the value of negotiation.

Finding Your Life Purpose with Ikigai

Ikigai can guide you in your quest for self-discovery. Listen to Japanese brain scientist Ken Mogi explain why and how.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Want to leverage Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs as a leader? Try this short course to see how the theory can be applied in practical work scenarios.

Confirmation Bias

We all subconsciously collect information that reinforces our preconceptions. It's natural . . . but it does lead to a kind of flawed decision-making called confirmation bias. To become more objective and impartial, check out this course from GLOBIS Unlimited!

An Investor's Lesson to Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs have the power to transform societies for the better. But how do you attract investors to start or grow a business? Or to sell one? Check out this seminar for the answers to these and more, straight from a master venture capitalist!

Managerial Accounting

Managerial accounting is a powerful way to measure progress, identify problems, and meet your goals. Check out this course to learn how data-backed decisions can help you run your business.

Finance Basics: 1

For a healthy mix of quantitative planning, evaluation, and management, you need solid decision-making. And finance is the secret sauce! Get the essentials of finance in this two-part course from GLOBIS Unlimited.

Basic Accounting: Financial Analysis

Want to compare your performance vs. a competitor? Or evaluate a potential vendor? Then you'll need to conduct a financial analysis. This course will teach you how to use three financial statements and evaluate financial performance in terms of profitability, efficiency, soundness, growth, and overall strength.

Career Anchors

What drives you to be good at your job?

Career anchors are based on your values, desires, motivations, and abilities. They are the immovable parts of your professional self-image that guide you throughout your career journey.

Try this short GLOBIS Unlimited course to identify which of the eight career anchors is yours!

Digital Marketing Psychology to Transform Your Business

How does digital marketing really differ from traditional marketing? How is social media changing things really? And what's going on in Asia?

Pyramid Structure

Having the pyramid structure in your communication toolkit can not only help you approach a problem, but convince others that your solution is valid. Break away from linear thinking and test your logical thinking with this course from GLOBIS Unlimited!

Leadership with Passion through Kokorozashi

The key ingredient to success? Passion.

Finding your kokorozashi will unify your passions and skills to create positive change in society. This GLOBIS Unlimited course will help you develop the values and lifelong goals you need to become a strong, passion-driven leader.

AI First Companies – Implementation and Impact

AI is changing the way companies operate. How do you structure teams to increase efficiency?

Technovate in the Era of Industry 4.0

Is Industry 4.0 is the next step of human evolution human civilization? Dr. Jorge Calvo seems to think so. Join him to learn how the past can help you set goals for an exciting future of digital innovation.

Technovate Thinking

Business leaders of tomorrow need to harness the power of technology and innovation. That means understanding algorithms and how they drive business results. Discover opportunities to make technology work for your competitive edge.

Product Life Cycle

Every product takes a natural course through the market—there's a how, when, and why customers adopt products at different stages. Check out this course from GLOBIS Unlimited to find out how a product you use every day is part of this cycle.

Logic Tree

Logical thinking is the most valuable asset any business professional can have. That's why logic trees are such a valuable tool—they can help you identify a problem, break it down, and build it back up to a solution.

MECE Principle

Using the MECE principle can help ensure you categorize without gaps or overlaps. Check out this course from GLOBIS Unlimited for a practical demonstration of how it works!

Establishing an environment of psychological safety is an increasingly important consideration for modern companies. It’s linked to benefits such as improved productivity, lower staff turnover, greater employee wellbeing, and much more. And yet, this is an area in which Japanese companies have a reputation for falling short.

Why might this be? And what can be done about it?

Next Article

Japanese Working Culture: The Good, the Bad, and the Getting Better

Japanese working culture is notorious for strict business practices, lack of transparency, and slow decision-making. But employees are getting fed up, and things are changing.
Office workers in uniform suits crossing a street on their way to the office, a common sight in Japanese working culture

Kan: An Authentic Role Model Taking on Psychological Safety

Psychological safety in Japan has a long road ahead. But public figures like Kan aim to change that by becoming relatable role models for the LGBTQ+ community.
Smiling image of Kan, a Japanese gay man striving to become a role model for psychological safety in Japan

Cultural Vulnerabilities to Psychological Safety in Japan

Psychological safety refers to how far individuals believe their colleagues and managers will allow them to take risks without criticism or punishment. These “risks” include things such as speaking up with suggestions or pointing out potential problems.

Sometimes, low psychological safety can occur when cultural factors are not accounted for. In Japan, the following four areas represent culture-based risk factors that companies should take care to consider.

Rigidly hierarchical structures

Japanese business culture is generally more hierarchical than in the West. There is strong implicit pressure to accept what authority figures (who are usually older or more experienced) say without question or challenge. That same pressure can also lead employees to experience discomfort when directly communicating their wants and needs to higher-status persons.

Harmony as a Priority

The harmony custom in Japan means that there is pressure to avoid or conceal any communication that results in disruption of the group ambiance, relationships, or others’ feelings. Thus, pointing out problems or expressing disagreement is usually avoided, especially when a higher-status person is the focus.

Expectations to make sacrifices for the company

For decades, Japanese companies were like second families to which employees were expected to devote their lives and loyalty in exchange for lifetime employment. While this situation is starting to change, such deep-rooted expectations are not easy to shift.


The Japanese custom of saving face means that there is social pressure to avoid anything that can bring shame or embarrassment. In Japanese companies, this often translates to micromanagement and intolerance of mistakes.

The consequences of not addressing the above vulnerabilities can be huge. A lack of psychological safety can lead to a wide range of adverse effects on employee wellbeing, innovation, knowledge-sharing, and a company’s bottom line. This is by no means a danger unique to Japan, as the likes of Volkswagen, Wells Fargo, Nokia, and the New York Federal Reserve discovered to their cost in recent years.

On the bright side, the benefits of a culture with psychological safety are equally global, as even some Japanese companies are proving.

Successes of Psychological Safety in Japan

A number of Japanese companies have successfully addressed Japan’s specific cultural needs with psychological safety initiatives.

MS&AD Insurance Group

Ruiko Mori, deputy manager of the Corporate Communications Department at MS&AD Insurance Group, says that the Tokyo-based company has made psychological safety one of its four core missions. “New ideas and innovations are created when employees with various backgrounds feel comfortable expressing their different and clashing opinions—and when decisions are made based on those opinions,” she says.

According to Mori, some of the key steps MS&AD has taken to nurture psychological safety include the following:

  • Teaching employees and managers to understand each other better
  • Setting specific and clear expectations and roles based on firm agreement between employees and their supervisors
  • Allowing employees to make mistakes and leading them to learn from these experiences
  • Installing a formal Speak-up System through which employees can report concerns and seek consultation
  • Reducing age-based hierarchy by surveying employees in their twenties and thirties to understand their values

Coca-Cola Japan

Another psychological safety success story is Coca-Cola Japan. According to Patrick Jordan, vice president of human resources in Japan and Korea, “We hold a number of activities throughout the year to help our employees feel more comfortable with being themselves. For example, each Leadership Team Member hosts a ‘clubhouse’ session where they discuss their background and take open questions from participants so they can be better known to individuals.”

Initiatives such as these don’t just allow employees to get to know and support each other as individuals. They also enhance psychological safety by increasing people’s ability to predict how others will react. 

Jordan says that Coca-Cola Japan has taken steps to remove the stigma associated with failure, and to reframe mistakes as learning opportunities. “In 2021, we held a ‘failure’ competition where employees shared stories of times they made mistakes only to learn from them. Employees in the company voted on what they felt was the most impactful story,” he says.

Next Article

How to Solve the Problem of Gender Inequality in Japan

Japan’s gender inequality problem has come a long way, but there’s still a long way to go. The key to picking up the pace? Psychological safety.
Illustration of a red void with a man walking along a path in the air and a woman stuck with no path, representing gender inequality

6 Ways Japanese Companies Can Build Psychological Safety

So how can other Japanese companies go about creating an environment in which psychological safety can flourish?

It starts with team leaders–not upper management. Research shows that upper-level management support for psychological safety initiatives actually has no impact. It is the team leaders who need to take the lead for real results.

As for specific actions, there are many a company or team leader can take, but here are six of the most crucial for a Japanese context.

Enlist leadership

Given the powerful influence of authority figures in Japan, it is imperative that those authority figures take the lead on psychological safety initiatives. Team leaders can do this by responding to dissent calmly and gratefully–and by modeling the kinds of behaviors they would like to see their employees do, like admitting mistakes.

Change perceptions of conflict

Team leaders must work to show employees it is possible to have “good conflict” that does not lead to uncomfortable moments, damaged relationships, or hurt feelings. That starts with reframing perceptions to show how conflict and other kinds of “disruptive” behaviors can actually benefit the group.

Change perceptions about who can speak up

Team leaders must emphasize to employees that they want to hear everyone’s voice, regardless of their level of experience, age, status, or level of education. They must also help employees trust this message by genuinely listening and giving serious consideration to concerns and ideas.

Reduce hierarchy

True hierarchy reduction starts with greater transparency. Beyond that, it’s about providing employees with discretionary power, autonomy over work processes, and inclusion in key decision-making. Furthermore, there need to be opportunities for team leaders and supervisees to engage in the kind of unstructured, non-work-focused activities that allow trusting and supportive relationships.

Provide indirect means of communication

Employee discomfort with directly expressing needs means it can be difficult for team leaders to understand and provide for said needs. A non-face-to-face digital tool like Attuned can be an effective way for managers to learn about their employees and lay the foundation for deeper mutual understanding and better, more personalized communication.

Prioritize employee wellbeing

Repeat after me: “More time at a desk is not the same as more work done.”

Prioritizing employee wellbeing will not only result in greater productivity, higher quality output, and more motivation and commitment. It also signals to employees that you care about them, and that they can trust you.

Ultimately, every country has its own unique norms and values that make building psychological safety—or, indeed, any other positive culture change—more or less difficult. But the process and benefits of successfully nurturing psychological safety truly are universal.

For more information about how companies can create psychological safety, particularly in hybrid work environments, download Melissa’s recent white paper: “Using Psychological Safety and Intrinsic Motivation to Establish a New, Hybrid Work Environment that Boosts Employee Wellbeing.”

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