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.’
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.