You Called Me

March 21, 2016 6 Comments

By Allen F. Weitzel


We work in a grand industry.  We sell fun to others and then watch them enjoy themselves.  Others are often envious of our occupation.  Who wouldn’t be?   For that reason, many amusement industry pros are often called upon to talk about the parks and attractions that they have been associated with.


You Called Me


I was recently asked to be interviewed and provide behind-the-scenes stories about a park where I worked early in my career.  The goal of our initial meeting was for the project manager and me to establish the story topics we would cover in order to create a history exhibit about the park in a museum setting.  The grand opening date was already established.  Our initial list of topics would be shared with a videographer who would then film me sharing stories in a video presentation for a cornerstone piece for the exhibit.  My host set up our initial meeting, but had to cancel at the last minute due to scheduling and work issues on her end.  I was forced change my timetable to accommodate her needs.  The next two meetings were also changed due to her busy schedule.  With our host continuing to postpone our preliminary meeting, the deadline to prepare and finalize the details loomed large on the horizon.  Both the videographer and I were volunteering our time and resources.  I was starting to feel like a servant, not a volunteer.  The whole project was beginning to cause the age-old management axiom to rise to the surface: ‘Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.’  The videographer and I sensed that our project manager was new to her job and to the business environment.  Since I was contacted out of the blue for this project, I was tempted to remind this project manager that, “You called me!”


Borrowing The Cart


As the scheduling scenario started to unravel with my museum host, my mind traveled back to an incident that resembled that management axiom, which occurred at the very park for which I was being interviewed.


The situation was one where we were facing a very busy Saturday, with all our group picnic areas booked to the max.  It seems our Picnic Department staff failed to charge the batteries in their electric cart on Friday night, so it was non-functional Saturday morning.  In their frantic activity to prepare the picnic areas for the events of that day, the picnic crew borrowed the Operations Department cart without approval.  Early model electric carts normally needed a twelve-hour charge in order to operate five to six hours under heavy activity or eight hours under monitored use.


The picnic crew was able to get all the picnic areas properly prepared to handle the crowds.  Soon, the parking lots began to fill up.  The Operations Department started to jump into action to move parking equipment around to handle the influx of incoming cars.  At that moment the park’s Operations Director received the bad news from his supervisor, their electric cart was missing.


The call went out to all departments to ask if anyone knew of the location of the operations cart.  Soon, the in-park radios crackled to life with the voice of the Picnic Manager, who sheepishly admitted that his crew had possession of the cart.


A long explanation followed as to why the cart was borrowed without Ops being advised.  Our Operations Director promptly asked, “Are you done with it?  Can we have it back and where is it?”   A long radio pause followed.  The Picnic Manager said, “You can have it.  It is in the Maintenance Yard, but… it’s dead!”


So, we are back to it:  ‘Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.’


Being Realistic


Do schedules get backed up?  Sure.  Do emergencies occur?  Yes.  Do critical tasks get forgotten?  You bet!  But as I have presented in recent blogs, you must know your job, and then do your job.  If you are in leadership, you need to understand what you are expected to do, know how to do it, know how others around you operate, and understand the time it takes to complete a task both on your end and for those who are helping you.  You must also understand all the traps that can foil successful management and how to handle them.  Scheduling, delegation and time management are critical skills you must master.  If you are new to the management game, you need to learn the professional courtesies of working with others and practice them at all times.  To fail to do so will label you as a person that others will not wish to work with or help, regardless of the emergency or deadline.

Industry expert Allen F. Weitzel is based in California.

Industry expert Allen F. Weitzel is based in California.

6 Comments to “You Called Me”
  1. Diane Cordes says:

    Great Article! I feel this is a critical lesson, one that I was fortunate to learn in my first job. I think it is critical to success in business, and in life, but also know that this point of view is not universal. I have learned to plan ahead for my role, and to plan ahead to accommodate those who didn’t plan ahead for theirs. 🙂

    • Diane, Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. I am afraid that many companies are like a dog chasing its own tail by not addressing this concern inside their company walls. At times, it feels like we have become a pass-the-buck nation. Productivity suffers when the ‘lack of planning’ scenario appears, because the disciplined worker ends up doing two jobs. Thank you again for your insight. Best regards, -Allen

  2. Paul Warren says:

    Dear Mr. Weitzel:

    Thank you for the valuable reminder and very cute electric cart story.
    Funny, but frustrating, I’m sure.

    I hadn’t seen any of your blogs for awhile, and I was wondering
    what had happened? Glad to see you are still writing good
    management tips.

    Best, Paul Warren

    • Dear Paul, Thanks for sharing your thoughts, as always on our blogs. Our other readers need to see that comments are welcome and we all can learn from each other. The cart caper might not be as difficult in today’s world as charging systems are more brisk. As far as timing, not all our readers can check for blogs every day, so we post new ones once we are sure our TAP readers have had plenty of time to read and check in, if they wish. Thanks as always for joining the TAP blog group. Much appreciated. Best, AW

  3. Barbara Hogan says:

    Excellent article Allen! This type of problem easily translates to any industry, including office settings. I can think of many projects over the years where one or more persons on the “team” did not do their part, or did not make themselves available for meetings, etc. Very frustrating when you are trying to finish a project!

    • Barbara, I’m glad you liked it. It is a pretty simple concept if people would follow it and do their normal work as expected. But sometimes, companies make it easy for select employees to slip into a relaxed mode, especially when there is no downside for them. We see it more and more. New technology has been, on occasion, an unwelcome ally on this issue. Thanks for checking in. I hope all is well with you. Best, Allen


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