by Noriyuki Morimoto
When companies decide how to treat people, they must be able to justify the treatment. People accept the treatment only because they have agreed on its legitimacy.
Fundamentally, a complete agreement can only be made in a one-to-one relationship, which for a company would mean to form employment contracts with each individual. However, such a pure employment contract between a company and an individual is impossible in today’s society. On the one hand, employment is highly regulated by special laws, and on the other hand, even without such regulations, it is practically impossible for a company to form one-to-one relationships with individuals. It has to be a one-to-many relationship between a company and a group of people.
Thus there cannot be direct agreements between the company and individuals. From the individual’s perspective, there are only two questions: whether to consent to the company’s system of personnel treatment, and whether to accept one’s evaluation within that system as legitimate.
From the company’s perspective, it can engage with individuals not directly but only through an objective and standardized mechanism called the personnel system. It has to work within that restriction to consider treatments that do justice to the characteristics of each individual.
In this case, a complete agreement between the company and the individual is virtually impossible, and both sides often end up more or less dissatisfied. Therefore, the key to corporate management would be to channel such frustration into positive energy within the company. This requires quite an amount of sensible maneuvering.
It is probably under such circumstances that the cliché “special consideration based on company rules” appears in job advertisements. The employer intends to say that the company wants to give preferential treatment according to the individual’s abilities and experience, but exceptional treatment is not allowed, and offers can only be made within the constraints of the overall personnel system. By logic, “special consideration” means to offer exceptional treatment to each individual, while “company rules” mean that exceptional treatment is not allowed. Therefore it makes no sense to put the two together.
Chief Executive Officer, HC Asset Management Co.,Ltd. Noriyuki Morimoto founded HC Asset Management in November 2002. As a pioneer investment consultant in Japan, he established the investment consulting business of Watson Wyatt K.K. (now Willis Towers Watson) in 1990.