How to Lead an Event Planning Department

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At the pinnacle of corporate event planning is the position of Director. This person typically oversees the work of multiple coordinators while setting the standards of practice for the entire department. It is not an easy job, but it can be rewarding both from a career perspective and financially as well. Ultimately, the key to establishing yourself as an effective Director is to lead by example. Here are some of the areas where you’ll need to show experience and expertise…

Decision Making

It seems like every aspect of event planning involves a choice. From venues and catering to vendors and decor choices, planners are required to make the best decisions for the group in a timely manner. These choices are amplified in a leadership role because the entire department will be looking at you for final approval. While it is important to make informed choices, you also need to choose a direction quickly to keep things moving.

Process Management

Departments with multiple coordinators have a tremendous amount of information flowing through them each day. It includes essential documents such as contracts, banquet event orders, invoices, and vendor agreements. The only way to effectively manage all this information is to have a defined process for team members to follow. Without a structured regimen for submitting documents and following up on overdue requirements, your department will eventually see the day when something important slips through the cracks. Be specific about how you expect information to flow through your team, and try to incorporate review points to monitor progress.

Directing Personnel

It is nearly impossible to lead a team without understanding how each person contributes to the mission. In event planning, the team extends out to everyone who participates in building the event. When you look at it this way, the list can get pretty long. At the top are the event coordinators and from there the hierarchy branches out to include servers, ushers, and security personnel. A good director understands how each one of these positions should perform. That way, if problems do arise, they can address the issue directly and steer people in the proper direction.

Minimize Inefficiencies

Time is a critical resource in event planning, and the goal of every director should be to minimize the time that gets wasted on indecision and waiting. It can be as simple as identifying a better way to set up a room, or as complex as reorganizing a department’s structure. The goal of reorganizing a task or structure should be to pinpoint where time is being lost while providing a solution to make it more efficient. Each minute that slips away cannot be recovered, so it is essential to analyze processes to uncover areas for improvement constantly.

Promote Teamwork

It takes a team of qualified individuals to execute an event plan, and at the end of the day, we all rely on each other to get the job done. Good teams typically do not mesh together by themselves – they are led by the experience and direction of their coach. In event planning, the coach is the director, and the precedent for sharing responsibility begins with them. It is the director who needs to make sure the client’s needs are communicated properly to other departments so that everything comes together on the event floor. No one person is responsible for the success or failure of an event, and a good director will promote an atmosphere where each person understands their connection to the larger picture.​

Leading an event planning department requires a significant amount of experience, but all the experience in the world is not a substitute for true leadership qualities. You must be able to direct employees and analyze processes to get the most from your team. If you are looking to become a director, then these are the traits you’ll want to develop to be considered for the next opportunity in your career.