Communicating in Person: A Problem-Solver
Talladega Superspeedway is a massive facility located on several thousand acres, and its NASCAR races are among the country’s largest spectator events. Its size, layout, and huge crowds make organizational logistics an enormous operational challenge.
Getting race fans off the highways, parked, and to their seats on time is absolutely essential to produce an exceptional customer experience.
Your nonprofit organization may not have to manage hundreds of thousands of people, but it will benefit from effective communication.
While working as the speedway’s director of administration, I was on hand for new president Mike Helton’s first race at Talladega. With race week rapidly approaching, Mike, who is now president of NASCAR, was faced with finding a solution to an escalating and somewhat puzzling problem.
The dilemma centered around traffic backups, disorganized parking, and admission gates not ready to open on time. Obviously, this was not an acceptable situation.
When approached individually about any particular challenge, none of those involved with event organization seemed to have an answer except that it was someone else’s fault or someone else’s responsibility.
Mike’s strategy for finding a resolution involved doing something not done previously – getting everyone together so a team approach could be taken to identify problem causes and to jointly work out actions to be taken.
Having everyone in the same room and communicating face-to-face produced an amazing discovery. Members of the operational team really didn’t know each other! Having everyone to communicate face-to-face created a synergistic environment.
The dialogue helped establish positive working relationships which led to increased cooperation among the group. Everyone came to realize that they were not working in isolation. They saw how each aspect of event operations influenced the ability of others to successfully execute their responsibilities.
By taking ownership for an overall result, individuals found they could each contribute to a successful event by implementing changes that would remove obstacles from someone else. Working as a team, they found out, made everyone’s tasks much easier.
Creating an opportunity for communication produced the desired result. The speedway’s pre-event gridlock was eliminated.
It sounds simple, but it is a valuable lesson for any organization. Ensuring effective communication, which includes the concept of interdependence, produces many positive benefits. It can solve – oh yeah, and prevent – a lot of pesky and avoidable problems.