We’ve all done it. Maybe you were tired or overstressed. Or maybe someone caught you at a bad time. Before you could even stop yourself, there you are saying something you’re sure to regret.
It’s easy to do. When you’re on-site at an event, there are a thousand things happening. You might feel like there isn’t time to parse everything you say before you say it. Fair enough. But there are some things, no matter how busy you are that can really upend you in the eyes of your colleagues. Here are 5 phrases to strike from your repertoire immediately.
1. “I don’t care how it gets done – just do it.”
Worms. Can. Opened. You probably don’t mean this the way it came out. However, saying it sends the worst impression possible to your staff. Essentially, you’re implying to the crew that this gig is more important than their lives. Does that seem hyperbolic? Imagine working at an outdoor festival with severe weather threatening. Suddenly, you can see the implications.
If you want crew to work WITH you, never say this phrase. Instead, say, “We really need to find a solution for this problem. I welcome any suggestions you may have about how to do this safely for our client.” If a crew member does something unsafe to “get it done,” that liability is on you. No one wants to have an accident on their hands.
2. “You think THIS is bad…”
Managers want to be friendly with the crew. Enter the war stories! You’re familiar with them: stories of past jobs and the conditions under which you worked. It’s an easy way to communicate, “Hey, I’m like you. Let’s be friends so it’ll be easier for you to trust me. And easier for me to tell you what to do!” Tempting as this may be, it undermines your role as the manager. You can still get on fine with you staff without throwing some other, past colleagues under the bus. Most any comment to this effect creates an air of negativity around what you’re currently doing. Stay positive.
3. “XXX can’t get their shit together…”
Speaking of negativity. Complaining about the project or another member of the team sets a terrible tone, one that pits people against each other. It breeds insecurity across the job site. Don’t blame others. If the truck is late, just say the truck is late. Besides, there could be any number of causes outside the control of the person you want to blame.
4. “It’s not my fault!”
Unfortunately, not everyone on site will have read this article. Especially as the manager, you may find yourself on the receiving end of someone trying to pass the buck or assign blame. Try your best to ignore it. It won’t do anyone any good in the middle of a load in. Remove emotion, stick to the facts, and solve the problem. There are plenty of better ways to communicate. You’ll end up earning the respect of everyone around you. If you’re the one tempted to assign blame, stop, take a moment, and own up to your mistake. Once you acknowledge it, you can get busy figuring out how to move forward. Besides, as a manager it’s your job to take responsibility, right?
5. “Send the girls over to registration.” OR “Where are my big guys? We need to tip a truck.”
Because of the speed that we work, many assignments get made quickly at the beginning of the day. It’s easy to make snap judgements and assumptions about people based on their sex, gender, physical appearance, etc. These type of judgements are steeped in stereotype and bias, all of which can create a toxic environment. When doling out responsibilities, learn as much as you can about the people you’re working with. Learn their names, ask questions, treat them with respect. And stick to questions like, “Do you feel comfortable doing X?”
Event production sites are high energy. There’s a lot said during the course of the day that may not be in the best taste or with good intention. A lot of it gets chalked up to stress and ignored and we roll on. But there are a few phrases that can really do more damage than you think. Take some time to evaluate whether you are guilty of employing them and kick them to the curb. You’ll be better off and your staff will thank you for it.
What do you never say on a job site? Or what do you hate to hear other event staff say? Share them with us in the comments below.