Andrea Lechner-Becker | Crain's Phoenix

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Andrea Lechner-Becker

Background:  

Scottsdale, Arizona-based Six Bricks is an experience-based learning platform. The company educates and propels career-ready marketers by pairing them with high-growth companies.

The Mistake:

I thought that management was all about telling people what to do and that they would learn what I wanted from them by following my example. I thought they would go into meetings and pay attention to the way people discussed things.

I was running a consulting firm, so they were all consultants. I assumed that they would go into client meetings with me, watch what I did and then just kind of parrot it back in their day-to-day lives. I didn’t realize that people need a lot more guidance than that.

I underestimated the importance of a true training plan. I always thought that other people pay attention, reflect and gather insights, just like I did. I didn’t realize that most people tune out during meetings and then go on to the next thing on their list.

Managers tend to think that you choose your own adventure.

The Lesson:

The lesson I learned through that process was that people really perform to their best for you when you give them a very specific series of things they need to do. You also have to identify where the gaps are in their current abilities and skill sets. You have to plot out for them how they can fill those gaps.

Managers tend to think that you choose your own adventure. They think that you just use your gusto and get up and do it yourself.

The large majority of people want to do a great job. They want their performance to be appreciated and recognized. Regardless of whether people are super-ambitious or not, most really lack guidance. I don’t think that there are a ton of great managers out there, frankly. Not that I’m the best manager today, but I used to be a lot worse.

People need clear expectations and they need to understand that the work they’re doing is appreciated. That comes from the alignment of goals and expectations. 

This was such a big lesson for me that it drove the next company I co-founded, Six Bricks, to help other managers identify and fill the gaps in their teams.

Follow Six Bricks on Twitter at @sixbricksedu.

Photo courtesy of Andrea Lechner-Becker

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