The Perfect Event Team: Dealing with People

Organizing great events is about more than having the right skills and experience. It's about people. Your event crew needs to gel as a team, be passionate about what they do and know why they do it. They need to really trust each other and be flexible. Helen Kerrison helps businesses to be successful. Today she shares her secrets.

Kevin Van der Straeten
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Organizing great events is about more than having the right skills and experience. It's about people. Your event crew needs to gel as a team, be passionate about what they do and know why they do it. They need to really trust each other and be flexible. Helen Kerrison helps businesses to be successful. Today she shares her secrets.


Hi, Helen. Welcome to our studio.


Hi, Kevin. It’s great to be here.


We’re going to talk about people working at great events, but also in normal companies when you’re dealing with people, it doesn’t always go as smoothly as you would want it to go.


That’s true! You’re absolutely right, and both ways, so in a company it doesn’t always go smoothly for the employees or for the bosses, so yes – in both aspects there’s work to be done.


But why is it that difficult to come to good working relationships?


I think that’s the word: relationships. That is so true – it is about relationships, you know? The thing is in work, we have a lot of connections, we know a lot of people, but we don’t actually build that many relationships. And certainly not relationships which are based on trust and collaboration and openness and everybody helping each other and everybody going in the same direction. So often in companies it’s “silo” mentality: “It’s my department, it’s my little corner, it’s my responsibility” and you just look after yourself and you don’t know necessarily what’s going on in another department with other people. And so, the way things are set up are sort of contra-… counterintuitive to collaboration and openness.


Is it possible to solve those things?


Yes, in a word! You know it’s more than training. It’s more than coaching. It’s about enabling – or empowering, if you like – although that’s a very “coaching” word. But it’s about giving people the ability, the tools and the understanding to be able to build relationships. And I want to just make a mention to my colleague, he couldn’t be here today. Paul Langer, who’s based in in Sydney, Australia. He was due to be somewhere in this space, but he’s not here. Together we’re working with companies on this. So giving people the techniques, the tools to have conversations.


You’re talking about relationships between people, getting to know each other, but at the office, you don’t always like everybody in the office.


Nor out of the office.


Yeah, but most of the people I build relationships with are people I like, who have the same interests and so on. But in the office it’s more difficult.


It is! In a sense, yes, it is because in the office, you’re in your professional capacity. However, the person you bring into the office is exactly the same person you are at home. You bring the same person into work every day as you take home every night.


And a lot of the people at the office I see more than the people at home.


Perhaps for a lack of choice! The key to this is that we do spend a lot time with people in work, but we don’t know much about them. We don’t know what their aspirations are or what drives them. We had a conversation before coming on air, right? The question was, “How much do you know about that person?” Hm, not a lot! Oh by the way, I found out he was doing something amazing that we were never even aware of. It is about actually connecting with people because we’re so connected today.


So we should all go on teambuilding and it’s solved!


No, it’s not teambuilding, you see. It’s about being able to have conversations, to understand – like for example, what I would want to know about it is: What are your aspirations? What are you really passionate about? What really is the “Kevin” underneath? Because then you find out something about me which you didn’t know, and I find out something about you which I didn’t know.


But in a big business, how do you translate that? Because if I start going to my colleagues and ask them, “What are you aspirations?” they’ll all look at me like, “Here’s a crazy guy!”

Absolutely! This is why it has to be structured, in a way, so that it is a learning…


So this is what you and Paul are helping businesses with.


That’s exactly it. And you know, it’s top-down. This isn’t something the boss or the CEO or the manager decides that his team is going to do. This is something that he and the whole team and everybody gets involved in. That’s the strength, because when you have all of you people from throughout the organization all pointing in the same direction, all working towards the same common goal, all really invested in the company and achievements so that personal achievement becomes professional achievement, becomes business achievement and becomes business growth – then that’s unstoppable.


Before you also mentioned something about the “Five Ps”.


Yes! The “Five Ps”: People, Purpose, Perception, Planning and Performance. These are the five keys to having your business grow through its people, through adaptability and flexibility, through peak performance, through understanding each other. “People” is the first one because if you don’t have people, you don’t have a business.


That’s true! Most of the time, you don’t come back to a store because of the products they sell, if they sell it everywhere, but because of the service you got.


It’s that connection you have, and it may be that connection with the person at the call center. It may be a connection with a receptionist. It’s that initial contact you have that will translate into how you perceive that business.


Especially in events when it’s all about meeting people in real life.


Absolutely, and so it’s really important for the people who are organizing events to be able to have that immediate connection with somebody. And it’s about that authenticity. It’s about saying, “This is me. What you see is what you get.” It’s open.


Don’t be fake.


Yeah, it’s open and that shines through when you allow it to. So many people in business are so uptight they’re too scared to be authentic.


Why is that?


Because they’re not sure that who they are is enough. They’re not sure that what they know or what they do is enough. They’re not being told it’s enough. If you’re worried all the time, if you’re wondering who’s going to stab you in the back, who’s going to take your job, who’s going to say something bad about you or whatever, that you’ll miss a promotion, then you’re going to be careful.


Then we’re back at the trust.


Then we’re back at the trust! It is a circle, and it’s based on trust and connecting with people – and really connecting. In this age of immense connectivity, we don’t really have that much connectedness, we don’t have that many real relationships. 


It’s a really interesting insight. Thank you, Helen, for coming to our studio.


You’re welcome, it’s been a pleasure. Thank you.


And you at home, thank you for watching our