On the ground learnings from the Tour de France - Rosterfy
This is a guest blog written by Mummu Media Account Manager, Liam Atchison, who coordinated a series of cycling tours on-ground at The Tour de France.
I’ll be honest, I felt like I had really landed on my feet after graduating and landing such a high-profile event. It certainly didn’t take long for the dust to settle for me to realise that I was coordinating 12,000 volunteers. Whilst I had a lot of fun, I also experienced many sleepless nights in attempting to come up with a bigger plan and purpose to manage the volunteers.
Here are some home truths and lessons I learned along the way that can help you streamline your volunteers and staff on your next big event:
5 volunteer learnings from the Tour de France
1. Build a team that are interested in the bigger picture: not the salary (or perks, if a volunteer)
Luckily, due to the large profile of the Tour de France we didn’t have to recruit. By the time the company was created, 20,000 people had already registered their interest! When recruiting staff from this pool, it was crucial to find staff that are interested in the bigger picture: that means that they will be on board, will be more likely to be punctual and will actually show up. Staff that care will do more for the job than those who are only there for the perks/profit.
2. Train staff for their bigger purpose and train accordingly
Don’t just tell people their role and train them exclusively for that job. Instead, help them understand where it fits into the bigger picture. For example, “I assist pedestrians crossing the road to keep pedestrians and riders safe, and so that the riders have a fair chance of winning” instead of “I stand at this post and stop people from entering the course”.
I have since done an HR team building game that focuses on this exact point. When you blindfold two teams, each with the same task, and one not blindfolded leader who delegates jobs. The team that was informed that the task is “building a ship” completes the task. The other team, that is only delegated jobs with no knowledge of the purpose, does not complete the task.
3. Staff accountability: no shows
Staff don’t always show up. Volunteers have even less reason to show up than paid staff. While recruiting the best bunch of passionate people is one line of defence, technology is a great asset. Using a technology system where you can track attendance at various check-in points is great, and it helps with sending extra staff to the areas as required, no matter whether it is 12 staff or 12,000 staff.
4. Plan to fail…..
The adage says, “Fail to plan, plan to fail”. In event management, I would consider it better to say, “Plan to fail”. Once you have a plan, also make a few “plan b’s” and maybe also “plan c’s” to help you when the inevitable happens. Even if none of your backup plans work, the planning of them will help you feel more flexible and confident should something out of the ordinary happen.
5. Communication is key
Build a communications plan into your training. Where do your staff look for one source of information? Whether that's emergency info or shift updates: ensure that all staff are familiar of where to get that info.
Some points to consider: do all staff use/ are familiar with the chosen method? For me, there were a number of staff who were on working holidays and didn’t have a smartphone to access Facebook. Using technology such as Rosterfy these days, you can actually contact all staff via SMS with the click of a button.
I hope by sharing this knowledge you get a full night of rest during your event. I know that I used to use a combination of excel, emails, SMS, phone calls, paper applications, and paper timesheets and I had to manually enter them. I certainly don’t miss those days anymore now that I use Rosterfy's automated technology.
Volunteer management simplified with Rosterfy
If you’d like to learn more about how Rosterfy can help you recruit and retain volunteers more effectively, why not book a demo of our product today?
Alternatively, keep reading more about how to manage volunteers on our blog: