Dave Angelicchio isn’t going to do your job for you — but he could if he wanted to.
The general manager of Pittsburgh Independent Auto Auction challenges himself to be able to perform the tasks of his managers. But it’s not about trying to micromanage his 150 employees; he just wants to
know what everyone is doing so he can confidently make decisions for the company.
So, for example, when his family-owned business formerly known as D-A Auto Auction chose the more identifiable name of Pittsburgh Independent Auto Auction last March, Angelicchio knew what his
managers thought of the change before it happened.
“We all believed that it was going to be beneficial for the business,” he says. “If it’s beneficial to the business, it’s beneficial to them, as well.”
Smart Business spoke with Angelicchio about how he builds confidence in his employees to empower them to make decisions.
Be willing to do anything. I don’t ask employees to do anything I won’t do myself. You have to be willing and able to do anything before you ask anyone else to do it. That’s the best way to lead. People follow people who do, not people who talk. If you’re a person of action, people will follow you and do what you need done.
I’ve always made myself learn how to do anything that needs done. I’m not a person that says to an employee, ‘Go figure this out and do it.’ I’m always feet first into a project so that I understand the nuts
and bolts of how it’s done.
I always feel like I can step into an employee’s position if I had to. The more people you have, the harder that gets. It’s just about knowing what [your managers] do and being able to do it yourself. [It takes] many, many years of learning. People don’t start off as chief executives. People start off in the work force.
As you work and learn and grow, you learn to do a lot of different things. By the time you get to the level where you’re in that type of management position, you have done a lot of the other jobs or at least similar jobs that would give you the background to step in and do that.
Let employees do their thing. I didn’t mean having a hand in it; I said having the ability to do it. I’m not a micromanager; I let my people do their jobs.
The confidence that suggests I know the business is transcended to the employee. They know that you know. That’s what leading is about. It’s not knowing everything, but it’s being able to do things and having confidence in people to let them do that. My philosophy is to let them do their job. That’s the way that you do things. If they see that you have confidence in their ability, it goes back and forth both ways.
Give employees power. Confidence stems from being able to make decisions on a regular basis. You have to get input from people. You have to see what all the sides of the equation are. You have to analyze that, and then you’ve got to be confident enough that the decision that you make is going to be the right one.
You’re not going to always be right, but you certainly need to be right most of the time. You have to be willing to take risks because you’re never going to know for sure whether you’re making the right decision.
If you let your employees, in particular the managers, make decisions, and you stand behind their decisions, it gives them the confidence going forward to make more and more of the decisions. That confidence builds in them because they know you respect what they do and you respect the decision that
It’s hard to make decisions when you think someone’s looking over your shoulder all the time second-guessing you.
You let them make decisions. If they’re not quite the right decisions, you work with them and you explain why you would have done it differently. The next time, it’s probably going to be a better decision. And the next time, it’s going to be better than that. Before you know it, most of the time they’re going to be making the right decisions.
Instill a big-picture mentality. It’s difficult for a lot of people to see the big picture. It’s much easier to define a job or a department and say, ‘This is my little fiefdom. This is what I do, and this is how it works.’
Sometimes that doesn’t translate into what’s good for the company. You need to have regular meetings with managers so that they can interact with the other departments. You need to talk about things that are good for the company and those that aren’t.
Reward input and effort. Your employees have to know that you appreciate the contribution that they make. You can do things like employee of the month, preferred parking places. Any kind of outward
acknowledgement, people like to get.
The main thing is that if you have a rapport with your employees, you can communicate that [appreciation] to them. Just talk to them. Money’s not the only thing that motivates people. It’s the communication and the knowledge that you appreciate what they do for you and for your business.
How to reach: Pittsburgh Independent Auto Auction, (800) 632-9299 or pitt.auctionpipeline.com