When the Stress Hits the Fan

We all know about teambuilding retreats and exercises, but nothing beats the teambuilding that occurs naturally on the job. The question is, how can you maximize those experiences in order to create a solid and successful team, the secret weapon in any manager's arsenal?

The team at my company, AEG LIVE Events, has been together for 13 years, through Super Bowls, papal visits, huge mall openings, and live concerts. With each event, we've learned more and more about how to be there for each other when the stress hits the fan. And making a team successful has everything to do with these simple rules we created years ago, which help us through all types of challenges.

1. Respect for one another is one of the hardest things to achieve in such an ego-driven business as corporate event production. While ego is important in terms of self-esteem, it can get in the way when there are so many people to please and so much work to be done. To protect one another's egos, you have to learn to respect one another's passions and talents as a group. The team's collective ideals, the client, and the event objective are what matter more than any one person's ego. From proposal to completion, an event is an evolutionary process. The way to succeed is flexibility and respect for the natural destiny of the event.

2. Active listening is a key factor in any healthy, happy team. It means not interrupting, or even thinking about what you are going to say next. When a team actively listens to one another, most problems can be solved.

3. Understand what your team members are saying so you know you are on the same page. Sometimes, you might even have to draw a picture, literally, to make someone understand what you are saying. Some people are more visual than others. It's just a matter of recognizing this and accommodating it.

4. Get out of the way. Great teams have great individuals and you have to know when to let them do their thing. Each person on our team has his or her own specialty. The key to longevity of a team is to understand each member's special talent and to support it.

5. Take time off. After living in one another's pockets for days or weeks on end, everyone needs to regroup. Since we all decelerate at a different pace it is a good idea to let your staff take some time off wherever possible.