Top 5 ways to become a better event manager in the events industry
I have seen a lot of articles recently on poor management and how staff leave people not companies. I myself have encountered both very good and very bad managers over the years and it really can affect your life both inside and outside of work.
Event Managers spend much of their time managing people ranging from internal staff to contractors and even clients. Being a good manager in the events industry is vital as you will often be asking people requests that normal staff don’t like such as to work long hours in stressful environments.
You will need to build relationships and trust in very short periods of time, especially when working with freelancers or suppliers. It’s important that this is done well or you will soon become the person no one wants to work for and you will lose the services of the best suppliers around. I know of an events company, who will remain nameless for legal reasons, who expect their event managers to gain quotes from suppliers within 2 hours from the initial request. The MD expects staff to hound the suppliers if the quote is not through in his time frame. This is a terrible way of working and not productive in many ways, staff are placed under extreme pressure and suppliers do not respond well to demands like these. Of course once a good relationship has been built and it’s a one off favour they may be able to help you. This is an example of bad internal staff management and general bad people management.
I recently undertook the ILM 3 course in the hope that I would learn some valuable tools that can be used when managing people through the course of my work. This was an eye opener, self-reflection is a necessity not a nice to have when you are managing people and you don’t have to have all the answers yourself, just know all the right people that do!
So with this in mind here are my top 5 ways to being a better events manager and keeping staff happy and loyal to you and the organisation.
#1 Know your management style and be flexible with it
Everyone has a management style that they prefer it use, but it is not appropriate in all situations. It is important that a good manager can understand the situation they are in and adapt their style to help achieve a successful outcome.
There are many different styles but here are some main ones:
Directive (Coercive) – tells staff what to do, very controlling, good in a crisis situation
Authoritative (Visionary) – Provides long term direction and vision, firm but fair manager, you need be a creditable manager to be able to use this style, people won’t follow your vision if they don’t believe in you.
Affiliative – people focused manager, avoids conflict and likes to build good personal relationships. Not good when staff are not performing to the required standards.
Participative (Democratic) – everyone has an input style of management, not great in a crisis when there isn’t time for a meeting.
Coaching – you like to develop people and motivate through providing opportunities. Not a great style when you persist with someone when really they should be gone.
Beware of your style and think before you act in different situations as it may cause you more problems in the long run. If you are running an exhibition, you cannot call a meeting every time something is not right during the setup, the show would never open. Also if you are working with contractors don’t be directive and tell them how to do their job, they are far more experienced than you will ever be, and that’s why you hired them, for their skills.
#2 Be Emotionally Intelligent
A good manager should have a high level of emotional intelligence, that means they should be self-aware, self-regulated, motivated, and empathic and have good social skills.
Are you quick to react badly in situations? Do you shout and scream when things go wrong? This is an example of someone who is not high in emotional intelligence. These behaviours do not create a good working environment for employees and can build a culture of fear and disloyalty. When things are going wrong and you are stressed out a good events manager who is high in self-awareness may feel like screaming and shouting but is aware that it is not the best way to behave and will manage these emotions. If you are more level headed in a crisis and open and calm this will then impact on the team positively, creating a more open and productive environment. Having a bad day happens to everyone, but it is important as an event manager to keep your negative feelings in check at least to employees and certainly clients.
Being motivated and viewing things in a positive light will also affect how people view views you. This can then have an effect on how you manage people, if they are feeling your motivation they will be inspired and may need less direction and less support to complete tasks efficiently and to a high standard.
#3 Don’t fear others knowledge
On many occasions you will be faced with staff who are more knowledgeable about an area than you. Embrace this and don’t fear it, you hired these people for a reason, if you were an expert you wouldn’t need them. In events you will always need to hire contractors and freelancers who are specialists in their field. Let them get on with it and don’t try to pretend you know the same or more than them. You will just offend people and they will very quickly not want to be around you. You want the best people in the industry and just manage them accordingly and they will thrive and ultimately make your life easier as you will have a highly skilled team around you.
#4 Delegate Effectively
Don’t be afraid to pass the work around. You don’t have to be everything to everyone and there really are not enough hours in the day to do this. Spreading the work around can help less experienced staff develop and grow their skill set. It can lead to more confidence and trust from team members as you are giving them the opportunity to show what they can do.
It’s not good for an events manager to take on everything, they need to be a good project manager and monitor all the different parts and view the event as a whole. Doing this means that they spend their time helping in the areas that need it and ultimately will lead to a more successful event. As a good friend of mine would put it, you need to helicopter the event, being able to have a birds eye view of it all!
It is beneficial when you at a large event to assign everyone with their roles in advance. I even write a running order with times, names and tasks so that people know where they should be and when. This will also free your time up as staff won’t be coming to you every 5 mins to ask what they should be doing.
#5 Be the best communicator you can be
Believe it or not, there is no such thing as mind reading. People can only guess what another person is thinking. So if you want to be a good manager you need to communicate what you want, expect or need from your team. All event managers are busy it’s the nature of the job, but it’s important that you take time out to communicate effectively with your team on a regular basis. You may be working on some new strategy or elements for the event, but it’s important that your team are involved, so when it comes to implementation they are already well versed and jump straight on the task.
Ensure that you brief external staff properly at the beginning of an event, if a written brief is provided in advance then simply run through it on site, this can go a long way to building a good relationship with suppliers as they will already have had any potential problems highlighted for them to consider I advance of arriving on site. They will know your expectations in advance and will have had it reconfirmed, they will be aware of everything the event involves and they will be able to get on and do their jobs more efficiently.
Hopefully these 5 points will help you think about how you manage people and how you can do it better and also help you become the best version of yourself!