No thanks to a local Hibachi restaurant, I’ve got this song stuck in my head:
Now there, you can share in my joy. Everyday they be shufflin… true story.
I’m sorry to report that I didn’t volunteer to campaign for President of the United States or anything like that today. I’m sure you were fully expecting some shocking announcement since I mastered the art of fake press conferences yesterday (and if you actually believe I mastered the art, then maybe I should run for President).
I’d like to talk a bit tonight about changing the focus of those you work with (and let’s be honest, changing your focus right along with them). I’ve been hearing a lot about “X has to be your focus” or “you must focus your team on X” or “If you lose sight of X, then doom and gloom doom and gloom”. Every time this comes up, I quit taking notes to look around the room. Does anyone look as hopeless as I do? No. Either they all have great poker faces or they’re doing it right!
I’m positive I’m not alone here, but why does no one else look frustrated when this comes up? How on earth do I go back to my venue and get my coworkers to refocus on what is important? I was going to avoid this topic all together. It’s going to come out sounding like I work with a team that doesn’t like their job. On the contrary. I work with a team that ADORES what they do and works endless hours to get it done. However, and probably due to those endless hours, when you bring up a new event, I almost always get an “ugh” from the back of the meeting room. If I’m real lucky, I get a visitor in my office to ask who’s idea it was to do yet another activity this year. Those conversations are only mildly uncomfortable – especially when it was MY idea.
Guess what? I’m going to let you in on a little secret. WE’RE IN THE ENTERTAINMENT BIZ, of course we’re going to do one more activity this year. Heck, we might even to 23. Get over it. We’re a theater. We own and Amphitheater. We have partnered with some groups to do a concert series in Little Rock. Presenting events/concerts/theater/activities/whatever is absolutely, 100% what we are here to do.
I know this. Deep down, I know the “ugh” happy coworkers know this. However, our focus seems to be on doing what ever we can to get through the day/week/month/season rather than on doing what we can to make the next event the absolute best thing we’ve ever laid our hands on. I know why this is, but I don’t know how to change it. I want to thrive in a culture where people are perked up when they hear another concert has been booked. Heck, I want to be that person. I can’t wave a magic wand changing everyone’s frame of mind and I can’t press their reset button.
I’m not sure my team is one that thrives off of a motivational speech, or nifty acronyms printed on posters or star service awards. So what is it that motivates them? What is the spark they need to get excited? What is that one thing I can do that plants the seed in them that is planted in me each and every time I’m around the industry professionals I’m around this week?
I’m at a loss here. I can usually come up with a solution, but I’m drawing blanks. What would you do in this situation?
And why does this topic suck the funny, witty breath right out of me? I’m guessing because it’s something that I have deep, very deep concern for. It’s a real problem. Surely there is a real solution.
6 thoughts on “This post brought to you by LMFAO”
Okay, I'll take a shot at this…First, you have to be the queen of excitement. Your interest and enthusiasm has to be caught by them like a contagion. If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.Second, the group has to know that happy is part of the job. If there's an "ugh" from the back of the room, it will more than cancel your effect on the group. The ugh person needs a change… like go do something else so they don't bring the group down. It doesn't have to be punitive, just get them out of the situtation that inspired an "ugh."You could stroll over to Ugh and say something like, "Hey, I have a special job for you. Go do this." (You need to have a special job ready beforehand.)Of course, there are tons of other ways to inspire the group… include them in the planning or decision-making, be their friend, make it plain that all the activities are for their benefit (enjoyment, opportunity to serve the public, paycheck, comraderie, etc.), or just move the someone who's dragging everyone else down, out of your group. If one of your folks is negative most of the time, everyone else will be relieved to seem them go.And if everyone says, "ugh," then they're probably burning out at the same time. Talk to your superior about trading around so they can do something different for a while, and you can get some new people. It's even possible to rotate staff, event by event, so no one works 2 events in a row.As I'm sure you know, negativity from the staff is super-bad for an event.Best of luck–I think your personality is why you're already so good at this.
Refocus every conversation you have with those "Ugh"happy people on your mission statement. That mission needs to be part of every piece of communication that is dispersed to the employees – newsletters, memos, posted in meeting rooms, etc… It's hard to complain when you're faced with the fact that the activities and etc. are happening because that's what you're in business to do. Your mission is pretty cut and dried. Not terribly inspiring, but you can at least point to it and say "because this is what we DO."The same language used to write grants can be used with its employees. If the budget for the year, the goals for the next few years, and the language of grants ("here's what we want to do, here's why, and here's the impact it will have") isn't being shared with employees, management is missing an opportunity to INSPIRE their employees. How can they see past their JOB if they don't understand how what they're doing every day changes lives? You're not curing cancer, but do not let anyone miss the fact that arts education and exposure to live performances of dance, theater and music DOES change lives. And everyone on every level can understand that – it's not just an upper management subject.I'll bet you didn't look as hopeless as you felt. 🙂
Suggest to management that the thank you notes from children and other patrons need to be shared with ALL employees – not just the education dept. or development staff.
I agree with all of the above comments, and since I am a one woman team, I feel for you, because I wouldn't know where to start either.I think motivating them and reminding them, this is what we DO, is a good start, but something else that came to mind for me, is…if you have down time after an event, say the next week, or the next Monday, or whenever is fresh in all of your minds, sit down with your team and talk about what worked, and what people are having trouble with, so you can find solutions for it, for the next event.I think we all get burnt out at times, doing the same kind of work, over and over and over… I think it's a great idea to give people in your team different jobs to do at different events, mix things up so they are fresh and newly challenged. Maybe they will see how the parts of a whole come together better, when put in another set of shoes the next time around.I dunno hun. I think communication is big, and talking about what's working and what's bringing the tribe down are all important to keeping your team a team, and keeping the moral on the up side. ;)But we already know you are amazing a what you do Erin, don't get discouraged, just learn and grow… Learn and grow. ♥
First step? Ask them about the "ugh". Is it because they really don't want to do it? Or because they're tired and having a bad day? If it's the latter, that's solvable with one of the many suggestions made by your smart friends who commented here. If it's the former (or another answer all together), that's harder. But I'd say the first step is letting them know you noticed. It's harder to be negative when you know your bosses are actually hearing you. 🙂 I'm loving hearing about your adventures in Wheeling! Keep learning and having fun!
Thank you all for your advise (and please forgive me for taking so long to come back and say so). Sometimes it helps to get an outside perspective on the situation. Life on the inside can totally suck it out of you. Life since returning from VMS has been ugh free, but life has been pretty easy going for my team for the past few. I'm ready for the "ughs" once the season starts and with all of your tips, I'm ready to fight them!