You can’t do it all on your own. Seriously. It’s time to loosen your control on the event and gain some sanity with these tips for building a team you can count on.
When you are really good at what you do, you may find it difficult to delegate. You worry that no one can handle it with the same skill and finesse that you can. While that may be true, to be truly successful as an event planner, you need to let go and trust in your people to handle those last-minute issues and challenges.
Whether it’s a staff of event professionals you’re working with or a team of vendors, it’s important to build one you can trust. As an event planner you don’t have the time nor the ability to be everywhere at once. So you need that team to not only be skilled but reliable as well. Here are a few tips to get them there.
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6 Tips on Creating an Event Team You Can Count On
1. Work on Yourself First
As the leader of the team, you have the bulk of the work to do. Before you can begin working on the team and selecting its members, you need to identify the following things:
- What kind of leader are you? The more insight you have into your leadership style, the better you’ll be at selecting team members that work well with it and with you.
- Can you be satisfied with a great team? It’s time for honesty here. If you select a very talented team, will you be able to let go a little bit? Come on. Don’t give the answer we want to hear. Be honest about it. Are you a micromanager? If you think you may have some trouble relinquishing control, even with the right team, you need to work on this first. The last thing you want to do is assemble a dream team only to have it flounder because you can’t allow them to do what you want them to.
- Know where you can improve and work towards doing it.
2. Decide What You Truly Need in a Team
“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there,” said the Cheshire Cat to Alice in Alice in Wonderland. This astute commentary also fits team building. If you don’t know what you need or want, how can you build a team?
First, you need to decide what areas you need assistance with. Do you need a second in command - someone with sign-off power? Or are you looking for a helping hand who can run errands? Different needs must be addressed differently. Decide what that need is and then look to fill it.
Once you’ve worked on your own challenges and assembled a great team, here are a few other things you need to do in order to build a cohesive event team:
3. Trust Them
Ernest Hemingway once said, “The best way to trust someone is to trust them.” The same can be said for your event team. If you are confident in your hiring or partnership creation then you have little to worry about. If you are concerned, it might be out of a lack of trust of your own process. Or perhaps you inherited team members you don’t quite trust or value their skill set yet.
Find out what they can do and test those things by giving them a modicum of freedom. You need to see how they react without you always giving the answers. If you don’t allow them this freedom, you won’t trust them and they’ll come to you for every little detail.
If there are standard protocols to follow, give those to them. But don’t make the list so long that in times of crisis where you’re not there, they’re leafing through a dictionary.
4. Deal with What’s Not Working...Swiftly
Morale is a great concern on any team and that’s one of the reasons why ineffectiveness in process or person must be eradicated immediately. If a process isn’t working, change it. If a person isn’t pulling their weight, lay out expectations again. If they’re still not meeting them, show them the door to additional opportunities, as they say.
Do not ignore a problem and hope it goes away. A toxic attitude is infectious at a lot greater speed than a good one is. When your team understands what is expected of them and sees you dealing with things that aren’t working in a timely manner, they will come to trust the process. If, on the other hand, firing or not renewing contracts seems random, you will not get top performance out of your team.
5. Give Them Goals
When a team understands the end goal, they can generally meet it effectively. For instance, if the goal is to “surprise and delight” the attendees, staffers will act very different than if the goal is to make as much money as possible on the event. Several years ago the slogan “What would Jesus do” became popular. The idea was that people who wore these bracelets with “WWJD” on their wrists would think about him before acting. It reinforced their beliefs.
Your event staff needs something of the same if you plan on having any time to yourself. Give them a reminder of what’s behind your event and then give them the freedom to make it happen. Some businesses place a dollar amount on it stating that junior members of the team can make decisions based on a sign-off level and anything above that requires management approval.
Decide how you will empower them to meet your event goals and you’ll be freeing up a large amount of your time to deal with more pressing issues that must be handled by you.
6. Encourage Non-Work Communication
Most of us do favors for people we care about. The same will be true of your team if they have bonded. It’s difficult for people to bond over discussions about event budgets. That’s why you should encourage non-work discussions and relationships among your team members. If they are able to see themselves as something other than mere co-workers, they are more apt to work effectively together.
In a study from MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory, they found “With remarkable consistency, the data confirmed that communication indeed plays a critical role in building successful teams. In fact, we've found patterns of communication to be the most important predictor of a team's success."
Many event planners fear leaving certain aspects of their planning business to team members. Because of that they drive themselves to the brink of burnout. At some point, they realize they can’t grow a business and do it all alone so they branch out to creating a strong, cohesive team. These things aren’t done overnight but with effort and clear communication, they can begin to build an event planning dream team.
Additional Reading about Event Planning Teams