After the event is over and you’ve had some time to collect your thoughts, it’s a good idea to have one final meeting with your team. This meeting can be used to evaluate how your event went and learn from mistakes. You can also start the wheels turning for next year’s event, which will be even better than this year’s since you’ll have learned from any issues you encountered.
Change How You Think about Failure
According to the Harvard Business Review (HBR), it is rare for organizations to learn from their failures. The article on HBR points to the fact that most managers see failure as a bad thing. However, if you can change your viewpoint to see that failure can sometimes be good, the entire attitude will change and you’ll open up a wider variety of ways to overcome that failure.
The first step before evaluating your failures is to realize that when things don’t go as expected they sometimes go better than expected. Be open to changing processes and plans to accommodate this fact.
HBR also suggests that leaders should avoid the blame game. If the person who reports a failure gets blamed for that failure, then he is less likely to report it in the future. If a failure isn’t reported, then it is impossible to fix it. When someone admits that a portion of the event failed, don’t point fingers. Instead, ask the person how he thinks it could be fixed the next year.
Evaluating How Your Event Went
At your meeting, gather all the key players at the event. You need the chairs for all the various functions, from registration to meal planning. Ask a series of key questions, such as:
- What went well?
- What issues were there?
- How can those issues be fixed next time?
- Did anything not go as planned, but turned out better than expected?
Also take the time to go over attendee surveys and address any complaints and resolve them as a team.
Some key areas that tend to be problem areas include:
- People acting like control freaks. Instead of calling people control freaks, though, ask if anyone felt overwhelmed with the workload. Then, ask if they felt anyone had too much to do and really could have used some help. The answers might surprise you.
- Communication. When it comes to failures at events, a big portion of those failures is usually because communication failed at some point. Brainstorm ways to fix any communication issues in future. This might include two-way radios or using mobile devices to text one another during the event.
- Lack of Funds. It’s hard to guesstimate just how much money you’ll need in each area. When evaluating how your event might have gone better, it’s a good time to look at the funding in each major area of the conference. What categories had money left over and which ones were short? Should you do more fundraising or can you simply move these funds around to cover the shortfall?
- Backups: It is almost inevitable that a contractor won’t show up with the chocolate dessert bar, or an outside vendor will flake on you. Take a look at what your backup plans were for these occurrences and see if you need to have a better backup plan in place next year.
By taking a little time at the end of your event to evaluate how things went, you can avoid some of the same mistakes next year and make your event better than ever before!
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