By Jane Kramer
How do you manage 81 event professionals, based in 65 cities, living in 17 states, staffing more than 41 events? It sounds like a word problem from math class, right? At Event 360, our employees crisscross the country from March to December, making awesome happen for our partners and clients. For us, a critical part of making this awesome happen is less about solving a math problem, and more about ensuring our staff is prepared and supported.
Whether managing larger staff groups for multi-day events, or small and mighty teams of five for many of our 5K events, we’ve found certain staff management elements are key. In part one of this two-part blog series on readying your event staff, we’ll share some of our pre-event tips for a well-prepared staff. In part two, we’ll include some of our favorite strategies when working with staff during event production.
Without further delay, here are five things we’ve already been thinking about as we prepare our teams to kick off our 2017 season.
Sure, you have great expectations for your event! More importantly, it’s great (and imperative) to thoroughly communicate those expectations to your team. This includes clients’ expectations (of the event and with which staff they will interact), expectations within staffing roles, what staff can expect in terms of scheduling and on-event communication, and more. Knowing what the expectations are right down to where to go upon landing at the airport or arriving on site for the first time helps your team avoid confusion and clears the way to focus on all the other things that will pop up during an event.
Review staff communication plans and documents each year.
Don’t take for granted that you must execute in the same old way. Even if your event looks very similar to the prior year, where are opportunities to capitalize on what works and improve what doesn’t?
Make sure those documents include special circumstances and a day-of-event cheat sheet.
We group all our unique and/or site specific details in one section, called the special circumstances. Can’t put stakes in the grass or drive on the field? Special circumstances. No loud music before 9 a.m.? Special circumstances. Special guest arriving at 10 a.m.? Yup, special circumstances. It’s the one stop shop for mission-critical event production details.
For the day-of, put together a one-page event overview that includes important event-day details especially relevant to participants. Make copies and share with staff and volunteers. Cheat sheets give everyone answers to common questions, like the cost of parking or what time the pre-race program starts. Bonus tip: send documents in PDF form via email, too, so the people who love to be paperless can access the information on a phone.
In your communication plans, consider your audience.
Different staffing roles may require or prefer varying levels of event information. Someone tasked with a great deal of participant interaction may need more event context (e.g., registration and fundraising details) than a site manager who is primarily working with event staff. Ask your team what information they need to get their jobs not just done, but done well.
Use your team to train each other.
Not only do we have staff working events they’ve never seen before, but in some cases, they’re in a staffing role for the first time. The person who can best convey detailed information about a specific area of function is someone who has done it before, someone whose sole responsibility was that functional area. Connect your staff to each other and empower them to knowledge share as much as needed prior to the event. Bonus points: go a step further and encourage knowledge sharing across event roles. If the registration manager interacts heavily with the volunteer coordinator, get those people talking, too.
Naturally, these aren’t the only five things you may choose to do to prepare your event staff, but they certainly encompass a well-rounded start. Join us next week for Part 2 where we’ll talk about working with event staff while on the ground, producing an event.
This blog series is brought to you by the collective wisdom and combined experience of the Event 360 Event Production team and one writer crazy enough to take on the task of aggregating their best practices. For more info about our team, click here.