Balancing Business and People Capital

by Kathy Miller, Total Event Resources
Over the years our production lead time has become laughable, what used to be a year lead time and planning has now turned into weeks and in some cases days.  How do we balance the business and our people?  It’s a really good question and just when I think the solution is impossible I find that in our case our “small but mighty” team steps up to the plate and I mean big time.

2009 was a really good example of managing what we thought would be the unachievable, balancing the business while determining how to best utilize and maximize our staff’s time.  It was no small feat but with dedication and commitment of an amazing team, my three words for 2009 were…”we made it”.
It all has to start with your people capital and if you have the right people, the rest of it falls into place.
Provide your team with the flexibility that allows them to balance their lives in an industry that has unbalanced time commitments.  For us we know what we have to do and we do it.  We give our people the latitude and flexibility to do what they have to do personally when they have to do it.  They are professionals who know what their job is, they understand the importance of keeping our clients happy and they make sacrifices to “juggle” the many tasks they have on a day to day basis.
Reward your team anyway that you can and it’s not always money that makes the difference.  Don’t get me wrong, pay is important; however, there are many other things you can do to show that you appreciate everything they do.  For some, industry education is important, allow them to attend a trade show or conference, this goes a long way.  Say the words, “thank you”, sometimes we forget the simple words that tell people we appreciate what they do.  Do something unexpected, have some fun, it may be that someone would love to have a spa treatment but wouldn’t do it on their own.  People like to laugh and have fun, create a fun work environment that allows laughing!
Think “out of the box”, I know that is an overused term but when it comes to balancing business with people, you have to be creative in how you can best maximize  your people while maintaining an operating budget, especially when your revenues may have slimmed down. Build your freelance support team so that when a short term project comes in you know how to manage the work-from-home jobs you willed to take up, and so you don’t have to turn away the business.  We had a great example of this at the end of 2009 when we received a last minute project that entailed thousands of people, two events, constructing a tent in the middle of the winter and nine weeks to plan!  We had several other back to back projects that would overlap and our people where overcommitted.  What to do?  We of course wanted to produce the events and yet we had to make sure that we could do it successfully.  With our pool of freelance consultants we were able to engage a long time industry colleague who had extensive experience producing large scale events and fortunately for us both, she was available.  Nine weeks later we had successfully produced these events with the end result of an ecstatic client, a win-win situation for all.
So when I said earlier, it has to start with your people capital, it really starts and ends with great people capital!