• Never Underestimate a Good Team

    FROM THE Winter 2013 ISSUE

    Tips for surrounding yourself with people who can make an event sink or swim. 

It was nearly 11:30 p.m. Our team of volunteers, staff and contractors, which had worked about 90 hours in the previous five days, was exhausted. We were waiting for the last vendor to arrive and pick up their items; while they are not typically late, this time they were way overdue.

A quick call confirmed that we had miscommunicated about the pickup time, and now we were at risk of our street permit expiring with more than 20 tents still on the ground and the streets required to open by 5 a.m. What to do but get on the phone with my team to determine a solution?

Three phone calls later, with three options available, we go with a contractor that is still on-site and can spare a few people to help us remove the tents. Not only do they tear them down, we are able to release the rest of our staff and volunteers for the night.

Thanks to building an incredible networkof staff and contractors, we were able to have a solution in less than 30 minutes and the entire problem handled well before 2 a.m., three hours before our permit ended and at no cost to our client.

If you are interested in building your own great team, here are a few tips to consider.

Building a great team starts with buildinga great you. During the past 10 years, I have done my fair share of personal and business development courses to learn how to get out of the way (of myself) in order to build a great team of people.

Define what is needed around you. Looking first at your (or your team’s) strengths and weaknesses will help identify whom you need to fill in around you. Each project may require different support, so this is a question to ask often.

Meet people with the intent to help them. When time is taken to give someone else alead, an offer or a job, that person will return to provide support when you are in need.

It starts with respect. Everyone you meet could be a future supporter of your event. The friend from the past becomes your best volunteer; the volunteer for this event becomes your client for the next event; and your biggest complainer is likely to be your best advocate if you hear them through their concern and help find a solution for their need.

Acknowledgement is a key to building great teams. I heard a story once that Oprah had never received a thank-you note from all of the authors who were in her weekly book club (many of whom went on to become bestsellers). While I am amazed at the possibility of that, we endeavor as a company to send thank-you notes regularly. No matter how much you acknowledge, you can never overdo it.

Take it down a notch. Happily we are not in a business that has too much bleeding or broken bones, so when you get stressed, take a walk or breathe a few quick breaths. The time you spend getting mad at a team member will take way longer to undo and often lasts longer than we will ever realize.

Have fun. While we work hard at all times of day, nights and weekends, it is important to laugh and enjoy life. This is best done with others.

Building a strong team takes time and effort but the reward is so great. Regardless of the challenges in front of you, there is a team of people that can provide support to make your job easier and your events more successful. Treat team members right, and they will ensure you and your events look great-in the worst and the best of times!

Steven Stokes is program chair for the Event Management Certificate Program (EMCP) at Arapahoe Community College in Littleton and operates Events Etc.

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