In the event industry, we go through clear seasons of increased stress, but we can mitigate the pressure by planning. In fact, planning for our busy season and ensuring we have the staff to handle the expected jobs is key to our success. Creating our plans ahead of time will ensure the successful execution of events, customer satisfaction, and a sense of accomplishment for our employees.
First, do you have the right team in place?
Staffing is one of our most difficult ongoing tasks in the event rental industry. We can increase our employees' job satisfaction by setting them up for success through proper planning. We need to make sure we are planning correctly for our jobs and not trying to cut costs at our clients' and staff's expense.
We know from experience how long the tasks we perform regularly take, and based on the time we have to complete each task, we can plan for the number of team members it will take to complete the job. Don't sell yourself short with poor planning, and make sure you have contingencies in place for issues that will arise.
Have a list of on-call staffers to cover absences. In the event industry, we rely on flex staffing during the busy seasons, usually people who work other jobs, but we can also find students in high school or college looking for holiday hours. Talk to the people on your list before the season to get availability and current contact information.
Assigning the right tasks
Assign work based on skills and competencies. Placing the correct person in the right job can save time and expense and ensure successful execution. Meet with your team leads or key staff to discuss both the overall schedule and individual events. Have written goals with timetables and critical points of the execution. Discuss the general plan, ask for input so you can clarify or rework the plan. Finally, be sure you have acceptance of the project and its ability to be completed in the timeframe from your team leads and key staffers.
Listen to your staff when they raise objections with an open mind. Discuss the key points they are worried about and come to answers together. If they are concerned about not having enough people to execute the plan, create contingencies to send additional bodies if the goal is not progressing within the timeframe. This is especially poignant when assigning setups and tear-downs.
When you expect the most from your staff during the busy season and rely on them to be always available, be mindful of how you handle hours. Our team knows that this is the time of year when they will get the most hours and are grateful, but they can get overwhelmed when the work keeps coming. Ensure that when we complete jobs early, or there are lulls, offer time off for a little downtime. Be sure they understand that there will be more work, which is just an opportunity to take a break. Treat time off as a reward and not a penalty for doing a good job.
Inspect what you expect
Take time to make frequent visits to be sure things are going as planned. With teams in the field, make calls to check-in and stay on top of progress. Good people tend to try to handle the issues themselves before notifying anyone, but sometimes it is more important to get an outside perspective right away.
When we rely on a specific outcome, we need to know that everyone's understanding is the same and that we are working toward the same goal. When we delegate a task to our team, they will begin the job as they understood it. It is the supervisor's role to check-in and be sure the task is moving forward in a manner consistent with the results we expect. In doing so, we will correct any misunderstandings and offer constructive and useful advice that may make the operation easier.
By inspecting the work in progress, we are ensuring that the result will be what we expect.
A former manager used to say, "don't come to me with problems; bring me opportunities." He wasn't telling his people NOT to communicate but rather to communicate positively, which furthers idea generation. Communication is the key. We tend to bemoan our circumstances, but chances are we have been in this situation before. Creating an atmosphere of communication and understanding will encourage our team members to be vocal about their issues and seek solutions from team members before bringing them to you to solve. This interactive problem-solving increases each member of the team's self-esteem, increasing productivity. A few good vibes can go a long way.
Lessons as teaching moments
There will be bumps on the road to completion but, once the job is complete, go back and talk about them. Know what went sideways, acknowledge the reasons it happened, and how it was corrected. Take each one of the issues and create a teaching moment for the entire team.
When problems are presented as a lesson learned with a positive spin on how it was overcome, the team and all its members will recognize the signs the next time they run into a similar situation. Doing this, we identify an issue before it becomes an issue that creates a stepping-stone to success.
With these practices in mind, you and your team will be setup for success as you enter the busy season.
Lead photo courtesy You X Ventures