Don't hate me because I'm right
Event management is all fun and glamorous. You travel to exotic locations and throw huge parties. Everything is amazing and nothing ever goes wrong. It’s easy and simple and you always leave feeling happy and fulfilled. Wait, I’m sorry, that’s not quite right, sometimes they hate you.
I recently walked in the door of a restaurant that was hosting a welcome reception for us and found that nothing was set up the way it was contracted. I started out being patient, understandable, and reasonable but that took a turn when the venue was still not providing what was agreed upon. The point came where I couldn’t worry about how well liked I was, and had to start worrying about my client’s experience.
I should say right off the bat that there is never NEVER an excuse for yelling, swearing, or being rude. There is a time, however, for being very direct and stern. It’s just not fun. Pointing out to someone that they are not doing their job isn’t going to make you or they feel good. Chances are there are going to be wounded feelings moving forward, and you’re going to have to continue working with them for the remainder of that day….or maybe even several days. The key is to be truthful without being hurtful and stern without being rude. These are my four steps to conflict resolution:
1. Stick to the facts
2. Offer clear expectations
3. Set a deadline for resolution
4. Have your plan B ready
I cannot stress enough how important it is to be very clear with your expectations. What you say and what someone hears can be two very different things. It doesn’t hurt to follow up a difficult conversation by saying “Ok, so what is happening next”. Ask them repeat back to you what the plan is. Also, anyone in events should have a solid plan B, with an additional plan C and D on deck. Anytime things aren’t going well you better start walking through your plan B in your head so you’re ready to implement quickly.
Here is the thing – when you’re in charge of any event, big or small, you have to be prepared to be the heavy. You have to be the person who has tough conversations with the venue when they under perform. That might mean telling someone you like that they’re not doing their job. The good news is that things like this don’t happen frequently. However, when they do you have to put on your big girl pants and take care of business.