Mr. Bregman, can the change in a company begin from the bottom? And how would that not lead to anarchy?
Some of the most effective change starts at the bottom. In fact, the best leaders know how to create change by drawing it out of all levels in the organization. That’s what my book, Point B: A Short Guide To Leading a Big Change is all about. If the mission of an organization is clear and it’s goals and values are clear, then people will know which direction they should be moving towards. It’s the responsibility of the leaders to create strong boundaries that determine a general direction and then ask others in the organization to act freely and creatively within those boundaries to move the company in that direction. If the boundaries are set right, there’s no reason to worry about anarchy.
What part of the problems in business is provoked by misunderstandings? How can we avoid them?
I would say a large part of our problems are misunderstandings. People misunderstand each other all the time. The real question is, why so many misunderstandings? I think we’re all moving too fast. So we don’t really listen to each other. We rarely pause to think. And we make a tremendous amount of assumptions. If we could slow down the pace and allow ourselves time, we would avoid a lot of misunderstandings.
What should be the goals that we set and what should we demand from the people we are working with?
We should set goals with the people who are responsible for achieving them and we should expect their full engagement and ownership. It’s a two way street though – if we don’t engage them in creating their goals, we can’t expect them to be engaged in achieving them.
You say that having no plan is the best plan. What arguments do you use in order to convince the managers who insist on making plans?
There’s nothing wrong with making plans. I have tons of plans. What I do say is that, sometimes, it’s better to be flexible with your plan. Better not to stick to closely to it when the world around you changes. Holding on to your plan too tightly will prevent that flexibility. Go ahead and plan. But keep your eyes open for opportunities as they arise and be willing to change your plans, or create entirely new plans, based on what you see happening in the world around you.
Do great business leaders change? If yes – how? If not – why?
Great business leaders change all the time. When they want to. People don’t resist change. They get married, have babies, change jobs, move to different countries. No one forces them to make these changes. People change all the time – effortlessly and willfully. So it’s not that people resist change; it’s that they resist being changed. People don’t like it when you try to change them.
What can a manager do in order to make his people cope by themselves with the bad habits that are drawing them down?
Help them them face their bad habits. Acknowledge them. Become uncomfortable with them. The other day I heard a manager complain to me about one of her employees but when I looked at the employee’s performance review, it looked like there were no problems. The employee was rated high in everything. Managers do need to be compassionate but they also need to be very, very clear about what’s working and what’s not.
Do friendship and the very close relations in the office impede or help the working process? Why do you think so?
All the research suggests that friendships don’t impede, they support good work. People who have close friends at work are more productive, more engaged, and make more money. For leaders, friends facilitate the effective flow of honest communication. A good friend will tell you the truth when everyone else is scared to. That’s a huge advantage of friendship.
If there is something that we don’t like in a person or something that we think is impeding the work, how should we act?
Talk to them about it directly. Politely and kindly, but directly. There’s a good chance they don’t know what’s bothering you. And an equally good chance they would stop if they really knew. Don’t make assumptions or write them off as jerks. Give them the benefit of the doubt of a direct conversation. And even if they did know it was bothering you, being confronted with it is often enough to encourage them to stop the negative behavior.
What should we say to ourselves in the morning – this is what I have to do today, or I should commit myself to doing more numerous tasks but of smaller scale?
You should always get done the most important tasks that will move you forward in your goals for the year. Sometimes that a single task, other times it’s more numerous tasks.
When we feel low-spirited, disappointed or simply tired, how can we get active quickly?
It’s different for each person. The most important thing is to know yourself well. What works for you? Getting out of the office? Calling a friend? A walk? If you know yourself well enough to see the signs, then you can respond in a way that picks up your energy.
Should we mix work and holiday? I mean – should we answer our business emails during the weekends?
Sometime you have to, but 95% of the time I would say no! Work when you work and play when you play and relax when you relax. Put the phone and computer down – it will make you much more effective when you come back to it.
Which is the modern method of working in your opinion? Would you give an example?
Transparency. We’re living in an age when everyone knows everything. And if they don’t, they can discover it on the internet. So trying to hide things or be disingenuous is not only counterproductive, it’s impossible – people will find out the truth. You will be exposed. So it’s best to be yourself and let people see who you are. Chances are that knowing people will see everything will help you become an even better person and you can trust that people will like what they see. Business is more and more personal. It’s not just what you do but it’s who you are that makes the difference.