Inheriting an Event Team

Category: People, Strategy

Building a team for a trade show, an event or even an in-house project is an inherently intimate job. You’re not just finding people to fill positions – you are tasked with the challenge of finding the right talent for the job. You systematically bring people together to form a cohesive whole, more importantly, who provide the tools and knowledge necessary to complement one another and help you accomplish your long-term goals. If building the right event team isn’t challenging enough, imagine how difficult it can be to inherit an event team that already existed long before you took over the reins.

The Challenges of Pre-Existing Teams

The group of people you have in front of you were committed to following a leader and now that leader is gone, replaced by someone coming in after a certain amount of momentum has already been built up. The danger of this is obvious: you’re the one catching up.

It’s natural for any team to lack a certain direction that is so essential in a project’s completion. Maybe the leader before you saw an event differently than you do and now you either have to adapt to something that was already in progress or try to bend it to meet your own will. Neither path may necessarily be the right move, however, you can still make the team your own, accomplish your goals and support an infrastructure that was already in place. Here’s how:

1. It’s About Clarity

Clearly define your vision and get your team’s buy in. Identify any resistance right up front. Is there a plan in place or practices in place that you may wish to change? Be clear to your team as to why you are cutting a new path or implementing new procedures. While doing so, identify the people who may provide the most resistance – uncover and understand their objections – it may act as a first step in working to win their confidence. You may be faced with an unfortunate task of eliminating members who poison the mission and goals of the team. If it is your job to lead, make sure everyone knows you have the last word and that you have the ultimate responsibility.

2. It’s About Trust

If you do find yourself in the unenviable position of taking over a team that you didn’t build, remember to take the process back to its essentials. Any team, regardless of its origins, requires unequivocal trust to succeed. You can’t make the people who are now in front of you follow you by force. Instead, build their trust by providing it. Provide your leadership by giving them a secure desire for following you. Let them see your vision and help execute your plan in a way that only they can. Keep in mind that although you didn’t pick these people for your team, someone did — someone who trusted them explicitly. Because of this, trust them to do what they were put here to do in the first place. Listen to what they have to say. Hear and understand their concerns and do what you can to address them.

Clarity + Trust = Partnership

Once you communicate that clarity and trust is very much a two-way street, you are on the road to leadership success! If you give the team an appropriate amount of clarity on the goals while providing them your trust, they’ll in turn start to return the same courtesy. Before you know it, you’ll all be operating as the larger whole that you were always meant to be — one team, one goal.


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