Sherri Lindenberg may not fall in that 24-34 age demographic, but “First thing when the alarm goes off, I am grabbing the phone off the ledge like a Millennial, and clearing out whatever I can.” Her role as senior vice president, marketing communications for Crump Life Insurance Services puts her at the center of 30 to 50 events a year, with a team that includes event professionals who handle logistics and marketing professionals focused on content and messaging. She oversees all of it and gets intimately involved in three to five conferences a year, not to mention dozens of Crump seminars around the country and a couple dozen trade shows the company participates in. Impressively, she also finds time to volunteer on the board of Financial and Insurance Conference Professionals.
“You have to set up organizational systems that make sense to you. I file everything, but I don’t use any physical files anymore. It’s all electronic. If there’s something that I get that’s paper, I scan it so that I can access it wherever I am. It all goes back to being organized. It doesn’t matter if I’m at a conference, or running an event, or on vacation, I can always get it on our network drive, or my personal stuff on shared drives. I can put my fingers on anything that I need almost instantaneously.”
The design of Lindenberg’s electronic folder system has been “evolutionary and collaborative” with her team. However, she’s finding that it needs to have consistency mandated. “As our team is getting so much bigger, we are systematizing the planning process. We now have a document that says, ‘For every event, these are the folders that you may need to include.’ For example, while not every event will have an ‘Entertainment’ folder, every event should have a folder called ‘Registration.’ And don’t name it something else because we won’t be able to find it. It’s about being consistent.”
“There are many things that we do that have to follow certain processes, but we don’t do them frequently. It could be once a month or once a year, but if you don’t do them often, you lose sight of the steps. They’re not hard, but if we recreate a process every time, we make it hard. So, I’m all over documenting our standard procedures. We’re less likely to make mistakes, and it’s that much easier the next time.’”
Consistency is central to productivity because, says Lindenberg, “We’re just so much more collaborative now. A small event in New Jersey might belong to a planner in Pennsylvania, but I can have someone in New Jersey handle it on site. However, to make it work, that planner needs the documentation in a standard format. Everything in our master binder—all the documents for an event—I want them in the same order with the same names for every event.”
The Right Tool for the Job
“I’m definitely an early adopter when it comes to technology. I had a Palm Pilot when they first came out. There was a password management app for it—SplashID—that I still can’t live without.” Lindenberg’s other productivity app favorites:
Dropbox: “When we to go to an event, there are certain files that we absolutely must have. We don’t take any chances that our VPN will give us problems. Those files, I move to Dropbox.”
Flight Scan: The flight information from multiple airlines “is helpful when we’re on site trying to figure out what’s happening with people who haven’t arrived.”
GeniusScan: Reliable document scanning app
Packtor: Custom packing lists for your travels.
“I’ve tried very hard to become a morning person and it never seems to work. I get my energy and my inspirations later in the afternoon, and often work into the evenings.”
The Ups and Downs of Delegating
“First-time managers often don’t want to delegate a job they think is menial—they don’t feel right asking someone else to do it. But sometimes it turns out that the employee actually wants that project because it’s where her skillset lies. It’s important to find out what people’s strengths are.” But while delegating can make you more productive and give others experience, keep in mind, says Lindenberg, “People are not always going to do it the way you would. That’s a problem if there’s a procedure that needs to be followed, so document the procedure so they can follow it.”