Corporate Topics:Rakuten-specific competencies developed through 1on1 meetings

Corporate Topics
Rakuten-specific competencies developed
through 1on1 meetings

The 1on1 Meetings introduced throughout the
company in 2017 have become a leading part of the culture at Rakuten

1on1 meetings were introduced throughout Rakuten in 2017 as part of the Back to Basics Project aimed at “creating winning personnel and winning teams.” The meetings are now held at regular intervals mainly between managers and their team members.

1on1 meetings have now become a fixture of Rakuten’s corporate culture. Four employees were interviewed about how the meetings have been affecting employee work styles and yielding results.

*When the interviews were conducted, 1on1 meetings were being held entirely remotely due to the effects of COVID-19.

Entered Rakuten as a mid-career hire in 2018
A leader of the Product Advertising Direction Team
and Product Team in Ad & Marketing Company

1on1 meetings eliminated anxiety and built relationships of trust following a career change.

I joined Rakuten as a mid-career hire because I wanted to leverage the programmatic advertising and analytic skills that I acquired at my previous job, knowing that Rakuten has a wide variety of data at its disposal. A big difference from my previous job is the number of stakeholders and the complexity. It is necessary to have strong relationships with people in a variety of departments in order to keep projects moving, but I didn’t know the process when I started. 1on1 meetings eliminated my anxiety as soon as I got to Rakuten. Having a weekly meeting with my boss was reassuring because I learned about key people and got detailed advice on which items to check with which department.

I manage two teams with seven members, so I provide weekly thirty-minute 1on1 meetings as a leader while having 1on1 meetings with my two bosses. For the meetings with my bosses, we decide on the agenda and the content for what we want to discuss in advance, but I let team members speak freely in their own way about their work challenges, progress towards goals and career plans. I first noticed at the management training for 1on1 meetings that I tend to express my opinion first, so now, I try to pay more attention to listening. Having time to talk frankly 1on1 is very helpful in building relationships of trust.

Regularly reaching goals thanks to 1on1 meetings led to me winning an award and being nominated for the “Rakuten Award.”

Juggling multiple projects makes you focus only on what is in front of you, but having the weekly 1on1 meeting lets me see the bigger picture of each project and have time to reflect. I won the individual and team MVP awards in my division for a project that incorporates indicators that reflect customer needs to “RMP-Display Ads *1”, and I was also nominated for the “Rakuten Award,” the recognition system for the entire Rakuten Group. I believe that setting small goals and checking and discussing them constantly with my bosses and development team at 1on1 meetings positively affected individual and team performance.

*1 RMP-Display Ad is one of the advertising products that Rakuten offers

1on1 meetings are not only for immediate problem solving but are also a place to periodically reflect on my goals. The journey to achieving your goal can be smooth if you discuss the plan frequently and continue to make improvements. Also, I can see the improvements I made with regards to Taking on Challenges and Getting Things Done, in accordance with the 11 competency evaluation items based on “Rakuten Shugi”. I feel that 1on1 meetings where you can have a conversations specifically about your personal growth are very helpful in developing and improving competence.

Entered Rakuten as a mid-career hire in 2019
Works as a Security Engineer
in the Technology Services Division

1on1 meetings were an opportunity to alleviate my concerns
and gain peace of mind in my first job in Japan

People discuss everything from business issues to personal concerns during 1on1 meetings. After getting married, I returned to Japan from Malaysia and started working at Rakuten. This is my first job in Japan, so I had many concerns about matters such as work culture and was frankly worried. So that is why, when I entered the company, I spoke frankly with my manager about these concerns during my 1on1 meetings. My manager’s clear guidance on the peculiarities of Japanese companies and Rakuten in particular really helped me get onboard quickly.

My core competencies also benefited from the relaxed, wide-ranging chats with my manager, and the direct feedback I received. Although I am not naturally an open type of person, I have experienced smoother progress at work and the rate of my personal growth has accelerated because I decided to keep an open mind during my 1on1 meetings. I am truly grateful to my manager for providing me with the sense of security to open up. Although I occasionally receive feedback about my weaknesses, we have a trust-based relationship, so I take the feedback proactively as an opportunity for growth.

Making the most of 1on1 meetings to achieve substantial improvements at work

Because I am a member of a newly-created team, I had to start from scratch in terms of establishing operation guidelines, workflow automation, resource management and other matters.

As I led the team while taking care of various tasks, 1on1 meetings were particularly helpful. I was able to incorporate my manager’s points of view and objectively grasp the current situation, which enabled me to reflect from a third-party perspective on my performance and the competencies I should aim for, and constantly clarified what aspects of my work would benefit from improvement.

As a result, I was able to complete all my projects ahead of schedule. My team’s improved results were recognized, and I received the Rakuten Award for new employees as part of the company award system.

I believe that the culture of having 1on1 meetings has greatly contributed to improving productivity.

Entered Rakuten as a new graduate in 2018
Transferred to E-commerce Travel & Mobility Operations Department voluntarily.
In charge of administrative work for projects in the business development office.

1on1 meetings helped me overcome nervousness and anxiety when I started my career.

Among college students, Rakuten is known as a cutting-edge technology company with a reputation for being cool and dynamic. Once I started working here, I was pleased to find out that Rakuten offers great flexibility despite being a large company. There is a sense of social responsibility – like meeting compliance requirements – while still maintaining an entrepreneurial spirit.

I learned the necessary skills and etiquette required to be a part of the professional workforce in 1on1 meetings as soon as I joined Rakuten as a fresh college graduate. The warm exchanges in the weekly 1on1 meetings helped me to stay positive even when I had lost my self-confidence from not doing so well in sales due to my nervousness. Lately, they have been an opportunity to think about my career advancement. The topics of the discussions are often related to the work I want to try and the projects I am interested in. I can talk to my friends about work-related issues, but there are things that I can only talk about with my manager face to face. I can comfortably and honestly discuss things like my career development, which I cannot discuss with the team. I can get the advice I need in a 1on1 setting.

One of the merits of 1on1 meetings is discovering your hidden talents.

Two years after remote work became commonplace because of the pandemic, I started to think that I would like to see myself progressing more. During that time, my manager suggested that I participate as a volunteer in the workplace vaccination project. It was my turning point. I could change gears because, in order to complete the project with the team, I thought, “You can’t add value by being silent. You’ve got to be proactive,” and so I spoke out. From that, I experienced the joy of taking action. I felt like I had discovered a part of myself that I didn’t know existed. One of the best parts of a 1on1 meeting is being given an opportunity to discover your hidden talents through communicating with your manager.

I transferred to the business development office voluntarily. I did so because, after my experience with the workplace vaccination project, I started to talk about my desire to strengthen my project management skill in my 1on1 meetings. Currently, I am focusing on my working more independently as a project manager. In six months, I will create a vision statement for the coming year and work on tasks to execute, monitoring my progress in 1on1 meetings.

Entered Rakuten as a mid-career hire in 2006
Part of the Ad & Marketing Company.
Currently working as a Sales Group Manager
at the MIHA joint venture.

Enabling the kind of deep communication that words alone cannot capture

I have been working in sales roles at various Rakuten services since I joined the company, and I currently work on sales related to the YouTuber and influencer business.

Before the introduction of 1on1 meetings, I used to carefully consider the right timing to discuss personal issues and my career when the need arose. But since the introduction of the meetings, I feel relieved that I can connect with my manager. Time is set aside for us to catch up on a regular basis, no matter how busy we are. It is valuable time for me to gain awareness not only of recent goings-on but also my own career and competencies.

Although 1on1 meetings are currently being conducted remotely, I am reminded of how important it is to be able to see one another for face-to-face meetings, even if it is via video conference.
Information that cannot be communicated using words alone is easy to glean based on your counterpart’s facial expressions, so we are able to deepen our mutual understanding.

For example, if I delegate a task and sense a lack of satisfaction based on my team member’s facial expression, I can carefully explain why I want that person to do the job. You can forge a personal connection with each team member while being sensitive to his or her mental state.

Also, Rakuten has a 1on1 training program for managers which is helpful for learning to conduct more effective 1on1 meetings.

Timely catchups via 1on1 meetings are essential for rapid business growth

I am currently working on a new business venture which is growing rapidly, so it is essential to quickly grasp issues pertaining to resources and business activities as well as client needs. 1on1 meetings make it possible to accurately grasp such conditions, which lets us identify issues at an early stage, optimizing HR placement and allowing for the smoother application of the PDCA cycle to issues. I believe this has been productive and is connected to our current major sales growth.

I think 1on1 meetings are also extremely effective for making regular check-ins habitual. A format has more or less been established for the frequency and content of the meetings, and they are recorded. The meetings enable an objective understanding of what has been accomplished and what has not, which leads to improvement. I believe that the effectiveness of 1on1 meetings help us shape the culture that contributes to achieving Rakuten’s principle of “Get Things Done.”

Message from Rakuten’s Global Human Resources
“Aiming to create an environment where everyone reaches their potential.”

The purpose of the 1on1 meeting is to establish mutual understanding and trust and support the growth of employees with periodic feedback. We have been promoting this aspect of Rakuten culture through 1on1 training for management and e-learning for employees in order to create an environment where every member of our diverse workforce can reach their potential. Especially in 1on1 management training, we support the growth of managers themselves so that they can learn to listen closely, teach, coach and provide appropriate feedback.

Several years since being introduced, 1on1 meetings have been shown to support employee growth. 95% of employees agreed that they were satisfied with their 1on1 meetings, according to a survey conducted in March 2022.

The career development group is proud that 1on1 meeting culture has been embraced and is supporting employee growth. Most importantly, it is contributing to an increase in psychological safety. Going forward, we will develop a plan to ensure that 1on1 meetings support medium- and long-term career development.
*Based oninformation at the time of the interview.