Apr 22, 2024

CAREER & LIFE

Learned important things for work from parenting.

A paradigm shift that has occurred to a “workaholic.”

In his 12th year with the company, Kiyotaka Nakayama is working on transforming TPM activities in the Operation Management Development Div. A father of two children at home, he says that taking a total of four paternity leaves has changed the way he deals with his family, his work, and even his outlook on life. We asked Mr. Nakayama, who was a “workaholic” both himself and others admitted, about the paradigm shift that occurred in his workplace and himself.

Contents of this article

    Reforming companywide TPM activities for a manufacturing site with zero machine breakdowns.

    ──Please tell us about the work you are currently involved in.

    I am in charge of planning work in the area of Total Productive Maintenance (TPM / cost reduction through maintenance management and improvement for stable operation of production machines) to ensure that the concept and actions of EF (Excellent Factory: strengthening the manufacturing structure) permeate all manufacturing sites of the DENSO Group. We formulate company-wide policies and measures for the transformation of TPM activities and deploy and support them at each manufacturing site.

    Let’s go into details, when a machine failure occurs at a manufacturing site, a working group (WG) is formed to make improvements (prevent recurrence) to ensure that the same problem does not occur again. However, the way to proceed with it is not standardized as a company, and some of the manufacturing sites still cannot take the efficient steps.

    For that problem, we formulate a hypothesis on how to proceed with the correct improvement and verify it ourselves at the actual manufacturing site. Then we reflect (standardize) the knowledge and procedures gained from this process in manuals and distribute them to each manufacturing site to promote improvements. By repeating this process, we aim to create manufacturing sites where machine failure does not occur.

    ──What kind of tasks were you in charge of in the past?

    In the past, I stayed “at the manufacturing site from morning to night” and devoted myself to improvement activities that were centered on the movement of humans and the flow of things rather than the machine. I was also involved in creating the layout of the vaccination site to ensure that COVID-19 vaccinations run smoothly and without congestion.

    A complete turnaround from a "workaholic." Decided to take paternity leave and participated in childcare with his wife.

    ──I heard that you are the father of two children and have taken paternity leave.

    I took my first paternity leave for 2 weeks in 2020 when my first son was born. In 2023, when my second son was born, I took the leave in three separate occasions: one week, three weeks, and one month. I used to be a "workaholic," so I am surprised at the change in myself to actively participate in childcare. lol

    ──Were you originally a workaholic!?

    Yes. I was a workaholic both myself and others admitted. My priority in life was to "accomplish my job regardless," so my private life came second. I strictly demanded my junior staff members do the same. I think I was very aggressive at the time.

    ──So I guess a work-centered life was normal for you. Did you like children at the time?

    In fact, no lol It is very natural for children to cry and make noises to communicate their intentions, but I was not sure how to handle it... My wife knew this, so she never asked me to be involved in childcare, and I could not imagine myself being that involved.

    ──I am surprised, to be honest. At what point did the change occur to you?

    I think it was when I attended the birth of my first son. I was so overwhelmed with emotions that I cried so hard to the point my wife became speechless. I was moved by the birth of a new life, and I was grateful to my wife, reminding me that babies being born is not something to be taken for granted.

    I remember going home with my newborn son and being thrilled at how cute he was.

    ──Attending the childbirth was a major turning point in your decision to take paternity leave, wasn’t it?

    I thought this was the only time I could spend with my baby boy. I knew that if I didn't take the leave, I would definitely regret it. So, I took paternity leave when the timing was right and I decided to raise my child together with my wife.

    Learn to "perceive" through interactions with children. At work, he began to think more about the other person's point of view and to act accordingly.

    ── The birth of your child was also a paradigm-shifting moment for you. Is there anything special you do daily to raise your children?

    I want to give them lots of love in any way. If children realize that their parents love them or will always be on their side while they are small, they will develop a strong mind. I want to spend not only quality time with them but also lots of time telling them how much I love them. So, I hug them tightly every day and tell them that I love them.

    I will be happy if they feel my love as my children grow up and I hope they will have strong enough minds to overcome difficulties and setbacks.

    ──After returning from paternity leave, did you notice any change in yourself at work?

    I felt that my interactions with the children were also applicable to how I interacted with junior staff. I think I used to express my thoughts unilaterally to my juniors. I thought I was specific enough to talk to them, but I didn’t put myself in their position or choose words that were easy to understand.

    Now, I do not interrupt junior staff but sympathize with them and choose words from their perspective, and I have started to think about where their “motivation switch” is. I think I have changed how I manage them, too.

    ──I hear your work schedule has changed as well and that you finish work at 5:00 p.m.

    Taking advantage of the flextime system, I wake up at 5:00 a.m. to arrive at work early in the morning. I have declared “I want to finish work by 5:00 p.m.." and I try to leave the office for home before the trains get crowded although not every day. I feel that if you want to achieve something, you must speak it out.

    However, I believe that when we make use of the system, we must also fulfill our responsibilities. I must make sure to fulfill the expected output before leaving for home. I believe that balance is important in it.

    ──Do you feel some kind of change in your workplace?

    I feel that my working style, which is conscious of time constraints, is gradually spreading to the workplace. At least the staff members I interact with also consider my working hours when holding meetings, and recently, when I stay behind at the office, they have come to ask me if I do not have to go home. I am grateful for them.

    Wishing the happiness of children all over the world, and a growing desire to contribute to society.

    ──What do people around you say now that you have changed your mindset about work-life balance?

    My manager says, “You've completely changed what you say and your attitude as if you were a different person." He may well say such a thing because I used to be aggressive, a workaholic, and speak harshly.

    My wife, who was initially prepared for solo parenting, was surprised and said, "I didn't expect you to participate so much in childcare”. I never imagined that I would change this much.

    ──Has the birth of your children changed your purpose in life and mission?

    I have come to think that I want to be a cool dad. I want to keep asking myself if I am a role model for my sons. I never thought about the meaning of living before, but now I think “I live to make my children happy.”

    Recently, I have come to wish for happiness not only for my children but also for children all over the world, and my desire to contribute to society not only through my work but also around me has been growing. I had ever volunteered and donated blood, but I became aware of the desire more strongly after the birth of my child. I am in the process of thinking about what I should do, learning from various books as well.

    If I can find something I can do and contribute to the happiness of many children, I will never be happier.

    *The contents presented in this article are as of November 2023.

    • Kiyotaka Nakayama

      He joined the company in 2012 as a new graduate and has been engaged in building manufacturing sites and promoting improvements based on the TPS (Toyota Production System). In the Operation Management Development Div., to which he currently belongs, he draws up the ideal system for maintenance work and raises many issues. He was also involved in the layout of the COVID-19 mass vaccination sites and the preparation of work procedures to ensure their smooth operation. Father of two children, he has taken paternity leave a total of four times.

    CAREER & LIFE

    Writer:PR Table Inc. / Photographer:BLUE COLOR DESIGN

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