In this third reflection, I will ponder/analyze the values, attitudes and expectations about work in the Events office, as well as the ways in which people communicate on-site. Following these points, I will consider the contexts in which leadership must be actively more attentive to certain issues than to others.
If I had to assign five cornerstones to underpin the culture of the Events office, I would choose the following: 1) Open Communication, 2) Integrity, 3) Thoroughness, 4) Troubleshooting, and 5) Patience (and a sixth one, just for kicks: humor). From what I have gleaned, these core values serve as the launching pad for the pervading optimism in the office. Generally speaking, being positive in event-planning overrides the potential for unnecessary stress. Thus, seeing that this is also the abiding theory in the office, each individual has the opportunity to adapt their attitude according to office values.
Due to the fact that the values on-site have such a strong impact on overall attitude, the employees in the Events office adhere to overarching expectations–ones that outline organizational elements, face-to-face correspondence, and transferal of requests–all of which require a fashion of respect, attention to detail, and willingness to problem-solve. In sum, then, I have noticed a chain of events at play here: fixed values –> a positive attitude (as a result of cultural stability) –> expectations for success (informed by the former two links in the chain—operating as a rewards-rather than punishment-based paradigm, which then reinforces the values/attitudes).
Building on this notion that influential values can have a stake in human behavior, I have noticed that inter-communication between employees on site transcends simply “Hi, how are you?” Employees in the Events office maintain professionalism while also exhibiting thoughtfulness for the benefit of one another. For example, within the first week of the summer, we gathered together for a baby shower in honor of a woman in the office. In a similar vein, I have also witnessed many thoughtful birthday card signings–and, not to mention, there is a communal food section in the kitchen. Donuts, biscuits, cookies–you name it! Fortunately, the gym is just a hop, skip, and a jump from the Physical Plant.
In my experience thus far, I feel genuinely cared about and acknowledged working in this particular environment. This leads me to believe once again that the core values in the office cultivate a precedent of respect amongst employees, which then allows for open communication and integrity to thrive. Logistically speaking, the employees in the office communicate face-to-face, via email/phone/walkie-talkie, and there is also a conference room wherein meetings are held frequently. In passing, people do not keep their heads down–eye contact and smiles characterize typical exchanges.
Given that communication is highly important in the events industry, I have tried to closely observe the ways in which people interact informally and formally in the office. The most formal interactions seem to occur between employee and client (typically outside of the office, or over the phone), while the less formal interactions can be best exemplified by our group lunch breaks in the Dining Hall, or when we occupy the conference room for “pow wows”–meetings where the assistant managers + Cassie/David convene to get back on track, or brainstorm a to-do list. I particularly enjoy our D-Hall outings because we often end up bent over laughing, lost in conversational tangents. I think that these types of interactions—though considered “informal”—are healthy and significant to building relationships and sustaining connections in the office. I respect that there is a standard of professionalism that must be upheld in the office, and that the value placed on community/collaboration allows for friendly interactions to occur on a daily basis.
Lastly, I will address the allocation of leadership in certain contexts. This past weekend, over 2,000 people commuted to Richmond to attend the Special Olympics Virginia Games. SOVA had been on our radar since the start of the internship, but I really had no idea how it would all pan out, and which aspects of it we would need to prioritize in advance. Needless to say, though, we started preparing for an event of this size with plenty of advance notice.
In the week leading up to SOVA, we engaged with more of the same type of work—but in larger bulk, and with closer attention to detail. We prepared one cards for approximately 1,200 people who would be staying on campus—athletes, coaches, families, security guards, medical personnel, etc., and subsequently sorted them by area number (pertaining to geographical area of VA). After distributing the cards, we were prepared to respond to lost-card/locked-out scenarios. In these types of situations, it was pertinent that one of the assistant managers arrived at the dorm in a timely manner to help. Think of it this way: if you were locked out of your hotel room, what do you want to do in that moment? You would be frustrated, first of all, and then you would most likely want to be in your room, so you would take action and find yourself down in the lobby again. Our role as interns, then, invites us to serve as accessible, yet remote concierges for guests staying on campus.
Card situations require instant leadership, as these contexts are not only time-sensitive, but necessary for avoiding a congestion of requests. Another case that required leadership attention was putting up shuttle signs. This year, athletes commuted from UR to St. Christopher’s for their events. Without shuttle signage/stops, the athletes would not know where/how to arrive at the games–events that they eagerly anticipate year-round. To this point, the purpose of our tasks boils down to two primary goals: 1) Events run smoothly, and 2) Stress is minimized for everyone.
Though this weekend called for a couple of 12+-hour work days, it was entirely worth it. I loved being a part of the meticulous planning for SOVA, and perhaps the highlight of it all was getting to boogie on the dance floor in the Robins Center last night. I also enjoyed getting to combine hospitality with logistical understanding in employing leadership efficiently/ effectively for the sake of the Olympians and their loved ones. It will be hard to top this weekend!