"The 'tai'ikukai-kei' staff have the mental fortitude to hold up in tough situations," a company personnel manager informs Nikkan Gendai (March 20).
"Tai'ikukai-kei" refers to those who spent their university years building up relationships through athletic clubs and varsity sports. And certainly the tabloid concedes, in situations where brawn is called for over brains, these are good people to have working for you.
Being more physical than mental, they soldier on without complaint, even when forced to deal with constantly changing orders. And nothing seems to stress them out. Naturally they're good for putting in extra overtime and have the staying power for late-night post-event gatherings; and because they understand the organization takes priority, they can be depended upon to maintain the proper decorum.
But the situation for these company sportsmen has changed considerably of late. At a certain trading firm where sportsmen are said to number about 70% of the staff, a division head sighs, "A lot of these young guys seem to have no ambition. I suppose it would be all right if they were thoughtful and patient, but they won't take the initiative. If you want people with the ability to use their brains to resolve problems, then you're better off hiring humanities majors. There's no point in bringing in any more of these jocks."
It just so happens that the manager quoted above also rose in the ranks through his athletic club connections. But the other day he had the occasion to visit his alma mater and was shocked while watching a practice workout, where he saw a player pose this question to the coach: "What is the aim of practicing at this point in time?"
Without so much as a disapproving grimace, the young coach gave the student an explanation. The discussion continued until the students were satisfied with the coach's reasoning.
What a contrast that was compared with, say, Meiji University's famous Rugby club, where underclassmen are entitled to speak one, and only one, word -- "Hai!" -- in response to orders from their seniors.
This change in unquestioning discipline explains why the division head is now confronted with staff who ask him, "What's the point of undertaking this job?"
Since the system now mollycoddles subordinates, the hierarchical relationships between superiors and their subordinates has changed. Now, when a manager at a company says, "Just shut up and do what I told you," nothing happens. The old plunge ahead, bite-the-bullet, dogged tenacity of yore has vanished.
The athletic clubbers tend to be particularly useless in the results-oriented IT field, where quick results warrant top priority. Here, even salesmen who appear to be robust hunks are regarded as uncouth louts.
"These are hard times as far as landing a job is concerned," says the staff in his 30s who works for an IT company. "As a large organization, we have a positions set aside for graduates with athletics backgrounds. But no sooner do they start work than they're stigmatized as being 'IT-illiterate.' They have no 'sempai' (seniors) in our organization to look out for them, and since they don't get along with the technical staff, nobody in the workplace knows what to do with them."
With knowledge and skills becoming increasingly specialized, the practice of bringing varsity sportsmen into the company now appears to headed toward extinction.
"There was a time when the only thing a young salaryman needed was the knowhow and physical stamina to follow his superior's orders, which were 'Do what I tell you to do,'" business consultant Atsushi Fujimoto tells Nikkan Gendai. "The reason why the situation has changed completely for the athletic types, who are most closely identified with this aspect of corporate culture, is linked to the collapse of organizations. It doesn't necessarily follow any more that an army can expect to emerge victorious merely by soldiers obeying their officers' orders."© Japan Today