I’m a pretty lucky woman. My day job is serving as events manager for a nonprofit organization whose mission I admire (my other gig is writing for and managing a blog about event planning – it really doesn’t get any better!). In my role as events manager, I oversee a team of event planners. Not only do I get to do something I love every day – plan events – but I get to mentor other planners and develop and grow talent for our organization.
One of the key aspects of supervising any team is making sure that the whole team is engaged with the organization’s mission and understands how their work fits in. This is particularly front of mind for those of us who work at nonprofits, but even those in the private sector should be considering mission in how they manage a team. Second to mission is brand. There are countless ways to work mission and brand into your team’s identity. This is how I’ve found success so far.
Engaging your team of event planners on mission starts with the hiring process; it’s important to hire the right people who are on-board with your mission already. But once you get them in the door, it’s important to have regular conversations about mission, especially for new team members.
Every time we hire a new event planner we have what I like to call a “Mission Meeting.” We used to do these at coffee shops until the team got too big, but even now I try to make the meeting as casual as possible. The agenda for the meeting is simple: let’s chat about how our team fits within the mission of our nonprofit. I try to say as little as possible; I ask a few guiding questions but let the team do most of the talking. By working through specific assignments and events, and how those events fit into the mission, the new team members see where our team fits in. We also talk about the responsibility of being cognizant of the mission with every event, and should we find ourselves working on an event that doesn’t seem aligned with our mission, it is our responsibility to raise a red flag and examine the event further. This conversation empowers the team members to feel like they are an integral part of the organization’s mission.
Beyond our organization’s mission, we have also developed a brand for all events we put on for the organization. This is separate from (but complementary to) the organization’s official branding such as logos, colors, etc. Instead this is the barometer by which all of our events are measured internally. Every so often we revisit the branding conversation and come out of the meeting with descriptive words and phrases. Not surprisingly, “Mission-Oriented” is an important part of the brand. So is “Consistent, Engaging, Purpose-Driven, Educational and Professional.”
By having periodic brand discussions, each member of the team has an opportunity to offer feedback and challenge to the way we describe our brand. By being bought into the conversation, each event planner is even more invested in making sure we uphold this brand with every event. And if you have as many different events in different places as we do, it’s crucial that the event planners serve as true brand ambassadors.
Our brand is a framework for making decisions on the details for an event, both big and small. When an event falls short of our expectations, it’s a helpful tool to be able to go back and see where the event strayed from our brand. It’s important to have clearly outlined expectations in order to hold each other accountable.
Those are just a few of the ways in which I keep my team engaged with and invested in the mission and brand. I’m lucky enough to be working with some fabulous event planners who have amazing ideas. When we all coalesce around our mission and brand it adds meaning to our work and (in my opinion) creates an even better work product.
Amanda Luppino-Esposito is an event planner and blogger. By day she manages an events staff for a nonprofit in the Washington, DC area. By night she blogs about event planning and entertaining for Planning It All. Amanda loves events, details, and bringing people together. In her free time she loves visiting wineries, getting lost in a good book, and slowly decorating her new house in the Virginia countryside with her husband.
Written by: Amanda Luppino-Esposito