Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Bored and Sick of Peppy

When I used to work at Costco, I complained a lot about it and how moronic many of my managers and co-workers were. Little did I know that when I started with Peppy Kids Club, it was only going to get worse.

Japanese businesses are horribly inefficient on average. All of the things you see on television and movies about the Japanese being hardcore workaholics are BS. The Japanese like to work and do lots of it, but in a corporate atmosphere the ideal of work is to look busy, not get stuff done. Peppy is the prime example of this mentality.

The way the company is structured is so riddled with inefficiency; you would think it had been structured by five year olds. Basically, the company is laid out like this:

The Bottom: At the bottom are the teachers. You have the Japanese teachers and you have the native teachers (me). The native teachers get paid a ton more than the Japanese teachers but the Japanese teachers do three times more work. The Japanese teachers aren't supposed to know how much I make and the fact that my salary is the same across the line. The Japanese teachers are paid based on number of classes and students. I am paid based on days worked which is pretty much the same every month. Whereas, if a Japanese teacher loses a couple of kids or a class or two gets combined, they make less. Therefore, the Japanese teachers have an impetus to keep kids attending Peppy. If they lose kids, they lose money. The problem this creates is lots of kids who would rather not be in class are encouraged to stay even when they want to quit. This is done by both the parents and the Japanese teachers. In theory, it’s done by me too but the way I figure it, if a kid wants to leave, let him. If they are forced to stay, they are just going to create problems for me and the other students in the long run. Peppy even recently faxed everyone telling us that we have to use a particular method to retain students for the betterment of the company. That fax illustrates the very core of what’s wrong with this company: It's an educational establishment that only cares about the money and not the kids. Even the Japanese teachers are starting to get that message and are quitting in numbers I have not seen since I started the company. Anywho, that is the bottom of the Peppy ladder.

The Middlemen: The word "middle" is used very loosely because damned near everyone who isn't a teacher is a middleman. These are the bane of the company and if Peppy had any brains whatsoever, they would get rid of half of them. The company loves money but is so spend happy that they leak it like a scythe. Basically, every region's native teachers have a boss, sometimes two depending on the size. Every region's Japanese teachers have a boss as well. My boss answer's to the Japanese teachers' boss. I actually communicate with her almost as much as I do my actual manager. Therefore, why does a company need two managers for each area when only one does any real work? I like my boss but I think his position is pretty pointless. If the company were to axe the native teacher manager position, they could free money that they would normally be spending on thirty people. The two managers for each area also take orders from a region performance guy. There are three of these guys company-wide and there really only needs to be one or two. These guys really don't do much other than speak to employees who are late or naughty in some way. They have a couple of other jobs but they are so miniscule that I doubt they do too much on any given day. But if they send out a couple of faxes or do a phone call or two, it looks like they did work and they get a paycheck.

On the Japanese side of things, this is probably where you would put the sales team and trainers and whatnot. The office workers. I am not kidding when I say this, if you fired half of the office workers in every region, there would not be a single change in productivity. Most of the sales people are pretty hard workers and I don't have a beef with them but the office support staff is pretty pointless. They spend most of their days trying really hard to look busy. Also, if Peppy ever got a clue and started to use computers, they would save so much money and time in the long haul that the upfront cost would more than justify the expense. You would not believe how many faxes each classroom gets on a daily basis. Every native teacher has a laptop so why not email things instead. Why have huge notebooks of crap when a single cd would do the job. Peppy runs a company like businesses were run in the 1980s and its just kind of sad.

The Top: Here is where the heads of the company are and all of their support staff. Native teacher trainers would go here as would all of the rest of native teacher support, or as I call them, "Whitey Aid". In the Whitey Aid crew there are four people last I checked. Of these four individuals, only 1.5 do anything whatsoever. Talking to people from this department is akin to talking to a wall with an attitude problem. The same is true for the HR guy, he is an idiot. Why are all HR people braindead? Why? You could fire him and at least two of the support people and be just fine. There are a couple other departments I would put in this category but most of them actually do something.

To top all of this off, I now have to teach a new curriculum starting in April. I am pretty sure this curriculum was designed so the curriculum development team could say they did something. Pointless fluff in the new program: All of the classes have been renamed to the most outlandish colors of the rainbow. I have an Ocean class now and a Magenta class. The kids don't even learn these colors! We are told that the change is because if a kid is held back, it isn't as traumatizing. People, if you are held back, it doesn't matter what the name of the class is, the kid still knows he is showing up to that class for an encore year. Kids are not stupid. More songs and chants have also been included...yay.

So if you have made it this far, you are probably wondering why I just don't quit and call it a day. To be honest, Peppy really hasn't done a ton to me, personally, to piss me off. I just hate working for a company that is this generally incompetent. I also do not like the fact that the company sees kids as a paycheck before they see them as a student. When they start pressuring me to retain kids who don't want to be there because they want more money out of them, I get angry. It’s my job to be a teacher and I get very little support in that area when I need it; when I see this money grubbing coming before education I get very disillusioned. Either way, I get paid, don't do a ton, and am not bothered normally, so I keep my head down and keep earning a paycheck. Also, I haven't seen all I want to see of Japan and don't really want to go back to the United States just yet. I just wish I could teach more days where I felt like an actual teacher instead of a babysitter or Barney. It used to be that I encouraged people to work for Peppy, now I would tell them to go somewhere better.

One more confession, I am also angry because I am being forced to get up very early to travel to a meeting in which my presence isn't really necessary and then come back into my area and teach. Sorry for the rant everyone, I just needed to vent. If you actually read all of this and made it this far, give yourself a gold star.


At 8:48 PM, Anonymous Phyrry said...


At 11:20 PM, Anonymous tony said...

"Baby don't you sign that paper tonight, she said, but I can't work in fast food all my life."

- Reel Big Fish , "Sell Out"

At 9:27 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Hey Mogwai,

I have been reading your posts...I have followed the you for a bit and now I am about to move to Japan to work for PKC...Sometimes, I think what did I get myself into, other times I think, well it will only be bad if I allow it to. So....I know there are lots of crappy things but what do you still like about it? Aside from the cheque. It sounds like your really going to through some serious culture shock symptoms..I hear alot of people who hit the 2-3 yr mark start to feel some serious pain, regardless of whatever they are doing, i.e teaching, corporate jobs, ect...Either way, thanks for sharing.


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