Daily Reports – Information Sharing at Japanese Companies

Daily Reports - Information Sharing at Japanese Companies

Daily reports are written by many employees in Japan. But why are companies requiring their employees to spend valuable work hours on writing up reports of their day?

What is a Nippou?

A daily report – 日報 (にっぽう) – is written by employees to reflect on their work day. Instead of working until the last minute, every day some time is taken to reflect on goals, achievements, and issues one encountered during the work day, and think about how one can improve things the next day and set new goals. Bosses are supposed to read these reports, to stay informed about the progress of projects and the performance of the individual employees and to mitigate in case they notice an issue.

Not everyone in Japan thinks these reports are useful. Discussions about whether these daily reports are necessary are taking place, but for most companies, these reports still hold more benefits than disadvantages. So let’s take a closer look at why that is.

Why do Japanese write daily reports?

Benefits for companies

There are multiple reasons why Japanese companies ask employees to write reports every day.

  1. Project updates
  2. Information exchange
  3. Reaching goals
  4. Employee training
  5. Team-building

Through the reports, bosses can always be up to date on ongoing projects and notice arising problems early on, allowing them to take countermeasures before they turn into big problems. Each employee’s reflections of their workday also make it easier for bosses to assess performance. The accumulated knowledge can, in turn, be used to advance each employees development and the performance of the whole team.

Bosses might respond to your reports directly or even share someone’s realizations in the group. But even if they don’t react in an immediate and visible way, the information they receive through reports will influence their decision-making and how they interact with the team.

Benefits for employees

That’s the reasoning of the company, but what is in it for you? Aren’t you just wasting your time?
Actually, if done right, there are quite a few benefits in it for you.

  1. Reflection on your workday
  2. Setting goals for your development
  3. Avoiding Issues
  4. Receiving feedback
  5. Appealing yourself

Let’s be honest, we wouldn’t usually take the time to reflect on our work day after day. By not doing so we are missing out to develop ourselves. The daily report gives you a space to see what you can handle well, where you are struggling, and to plan what to do about it. Take this opportunity to write it for yourself.

Also, especially in a foreign or new environment, sharing information proactively will help you avoid issues and receive feedback on things you otherwise would not have seen coming. Lastly, it’s a great way to show your bosses just how well you are doing, giving you an additional way to appeal yourself for promotions etc.

How to write a Nippou

Daily report formats vary by company, as well as the information bosses want to know from their employees. Traditionally reports are sent by mail to all your supervisors and bosses. Some companies that emphasize quantitative results often provide an excel template to be filled in, while others have special daily report systems to organize and structure the incoming information efficiently.

In extreme cases, these different formats mean that report can be done in a few bullet points or might end up filling pages. Regardless of the format, companies usually expect two things from you in your report.

Be specific

For all sides involved, the more concrete and to the point your report, the better. Not only will it be easier for your bosses to share, but you also avoid miscommunications and can save time by writing only what needs to be said.

Regardless of whether you have a lot to say or not, keeping in mind the 5W3H – when, where, who, why, what, how, how many, how much – will make sure your report is specific and easy to understand.

Be accountable

Companies want you to reflect on your goals in your reports by answering two questions.

What went well and how you can use this to further increase your result in the future.
What didn’t go so well and what you want to do about it.

Repeated regularly this leads to a virtuous cycle, where you are continuously reflecting on your goals and set new ones.

To stay accountable in the daily reports, KPT is a popular way to structure your writing.
KEEP – something that went well and why, which you will keep doing
PROBLEM – something that didn’t go well and why
TRY – something you want to try to improve your performance

Write for yourself

In the end, the usefulness of your daily reports depends on how your company are handling them. Are your bosses giving you feedback on issues you reported on, are they using the information everyone submits, to improve the working environment and help advance projects? If yes, then these reports are an important tool to share information.

If on the other hand, there is not enough feedback and employees get the sense that nobody is reading their reports properly, they will loose motivation to write thought-out reports. This creates a downward cycle where the company receives less and less relevant information through these daily reports, eventually turning them into the waste of time some make them out to be.

Chances are you have to write your report, regardless of whether you think it’s useful or not. So, in closing here are two points to remind yourself why putting in some effort into your daily reports is beneficial to you!
These reports are great Japanese writing practice and offer space to express yourself in new ways. This steady practice will pay off.
You don’t just write for your company. They allow you to track your self-development in areas that matter to you.

Good writing!

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After traveling around for a while, I found my home in Tokyo. Now working in Shinjuku and discovering something new about Japan every day.