"There isn't a task hard enough which a good team cannot handle - but also there isn't a task simple enough which a bad team can't screw up" - Vladimir Semencic, Feb 2015
Let me put it in one more way - as simple as it is - THE TEAM is the foundation on which you build your entire event. If you want your (dance) event to perform, to bring the energy to the people, to be well organised - you need the best team you can get. It can be a team of two persons if the event is really small or it can size with the event complexity.
THE PERFECT TEAM
There is no such thing. What is the perfect team anyway? What to expect from a perfect team? I will give you my and my only opinions on this based on 11 years of working in a team partly with the same people and partly with people coming and going out of our projects - you make your own conclusions.
This is how I look at it. Might sound scary but it is supposed to make you think.
- PERSONALITY & CHARACTER - The personality and character of the person does not change or changes rarely. Why is that important? Two things - if you are not aware of this, choosing the person with a personality not compatible with yours and your team's can mean a lot of (unnecessary) conflicts - you suffer, your team suffers, your event suffers. The second thing is related to performance - some people are creative some not, some people are responsible, some not, some people like to be let alone and work in peace while some think of that as a prison (they need to be out doing something) - can you recognize these traits in your staff? Can you make a right decision for yourself and your team and choose the right person for the right job? It is very important that you do - one can save himself/herself a lot of trouble later on.
- TRUST - If your team does not trust you and vice versa, then, long term, get ready for people leaving you or you leaving them. Even if that does not happen having people around you who you do not trust (and vice versa) is not healthy - you are not happy, they are not happy - why did you start working together in the first place?
- EXPERTISE - at last - having people know their stuff is very important, although not critical. Lets face it - event management is not a rocket science - almost everybody with a sound mind can find their place in event management industry if they are prepared to work hard, learn and can handle some stress (ok, sometimes a LOT of stress). If you have persons with some experience - voila! You are on!
Although from the event management perspective dance events are not different from any other events, there are still many (most?) events organised by one or max two persons in a team who share the responsibility along a complete range of roles - budgeting, programming, artistic, production etc. etc. There is a reason for that - the dance event industry we are talking about is still young, and although many people are involved in this era of social dances, it is still a small scene compared to the mainstream scene and only few events have become self-sustained, while even fewer can support more than two people working full time. Although logical, this is a very important information for all those rookies starting their own events. At the beginning - first 2-3 years at least - they will have to do most of the things on their own or have people helping them on (mostly) voluntary basis. If all goes right, the organizers will earn some money and later they will be able to hire some persons full time, but at the beginning they need to do most of the things themselves. So let's just summarize what is happening here for people starting their dance event - and lets keep the facts up in front - the truth is always naked ;) What challenges are awaiting the organizers while putting the right team for their event.
ORGANISERS / PROMOTERS
- responsibility for the success of the event is always on the organizer's back - the sooner the organizer accepts this fact, the better; the organizer is a spark, one thing that is always there even in the dark times and there will be dark times ahead - yes it takes a lot of energy to keep the engine going on and not everybody can do it -
- the team needs leadership - the organizer is the one to lead the team from the day one to the last day of the festival (and after) - nobody else will do it
- always trying to give your best is a trait of a good leader - making the time for people in the team even if it is a private stuff, good open communication, being transparent in planning, asking opinions from your team - that is how the trust is built
- micro managing your teams work is a signal that something is wrong - either you or your team is not doing their job or you are not letting them - giving the responsibility to persons in your team to do stuff on their own is one of the best things you might do - see what they are capable of - this is how each person in the team will grow and how the whole team grows (mistakes will happen along the way of course which is also needed sometimes)
- YOU WILL be tiding up the mess behind your team many times - it comes with a job, so accept it now (although there should be limits to it)
- respecting the people in your team - a team is a group of people working together, not machines - they each have their own life outside of the dance event being organised - really, they do ;) they are here because they mostly love dance and love what you all do - abusing that trust and passion by treating people wrongly can only bring bad stuff
- reward people - making sure each member of the team gets properly paid and rewarded for what they contribute is a must - they are here and they love what they do - but still they have their own life (yes they do ;) and should be properly compensated
- conflicts will happen - the bigger the team, more conflicts will happen, it takes an enormous amount of patience and good communication skills to hold the team together and focused while solving the conflicts - with experience, it becomes a bit easier to predict the problems upfront and avoid them. The good thing is that conflicts are also a chance for advancements and making the stronger bonds in your team relationships
THE (CORE) TEAM
And then there is THE TEAM. Do you know what you are jumping into? Are you already a part of somebody's team? Can you recognise yourself in some of the comments?
- be here if you feel good and love what you are doing - if not, you will not be HAPPY, you will not perform and conflicts will emerge - both you and your boss will agree your time is better spent somewhere else
- simply remember 1+1=3 and a happy team ;) TEAM WORK means working in a team in unison - not doing it like a lone wolf, chasing always some of your agendas, not caring for what other people in team are doing, closing yourself to communication, other opinions and advice, doing things by your own without telling your team what you are doing etc. - not only the team performance is far away from optimal, but mistakes will happen regularly as you will not be aligned with your team efforts and goals, conflicts will happen too
- don't run away from RESPONSIBILITY. Mistakes happen - even your boss makes them on daily basis, everybody makes them. It is natural to make mistakes. The bad thing is if you don't stand behind your mistakes when they happen. Be a man/woman and take it like a man/woman and go on ;) it isn't that hard, really
- always try to do your best - whatever you do, it should be your mantra - not because of your boss but mostly because of yourself - you live only once, you will have a chance to learn some stuff and your work will see many many people - don't waste the opportunity to make it the best you can!
- grab your chance - showing your boss you want more, you are ready for more (even if you are not) - will not only make him happy - but you will challenge yourself too, you will grow and that is even more important
- respect your boss - usually they are the person who is 24/7 into the event you are all organizing - your boss cannot run from it - even when they are on vacation, the event is still haunting their mind like a stalker which you cannot get rid of in that horror movie and your boss is probably investing a lot of energy outside the normal business hours just to make sure everything is aligned, no blind spots uncovered, the team is all good and zillions of other stuff going through their brain are under control - is not an easy task to do
- conflicts will happen - remember again, you have only your conflicts to handle and those will most probably be with your boss - your boss needs to resolve conflicts with each member of the whole team - so if you think you have problems - your boss has always more (no, although he might be earning more than you if he is a lucky person, it still does not make it any easier)
- be realistic - sometimes we all think we are a gift given from God to the Earth - yes, we really are, but if we loose the reality grip and get carried away by that idea, we are surely on the wrong path. There isn't one person in the world who is always right and knows everything. It is in human nature to overestimate the contribution to the cause - so, put your feet on the ground, check all the angles and be realistic about it.
Like many things, putting together the perfect team is much easier done in theory than real life. To all experienced (dance) event managers and persons from their team this text will bring a smile on their face - I already hear the comments "yeah,right", "if only" and so on. The fact is that the job of an event manager is one of the most stressful jobs on the planet. The team that works on an event does not get it much easier too. The deadline for events does not mean "ok, if we are late 7 days the customers will survive". No, it means DEADLINE - either you are ready for the event or you are not. That puts a lot of pressure to the the whole team starting from planning to execution of the event. It requires a healthy team that works together to bring out a successful and high quality event.
The fact that one event requires a team with wide range of roles such are production managers, artist managers, dance knowledge, leadership, marketing, promotion, sales etc. etc. makes it a lot harder to handle on a high quality level and it is much more expensive. Taking into concern the current state of dance event industry with many many events around, but not as many with great production quality and great organisation - it is no wonder at all the things are like this. It is really not an easy and cheap task to make a well-organised and quality event with good production. Many people do not know what they are getting into when starting to organize their events, so hope this might help them a bit on their way. For the old timers - I know that smile on your face all to well, but it does not mean we stop trying and working hard to have the best people around us - best and happy for what they do - no alternative in the long run! Be happy guys and try to get some sleep ;)