Part 2 • The Next Level of the “Employee Experience Coordinator”

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In Part 1, I reviewed the significance of the Employee Experience Coordinator (EEC) position and how Clio strives to live up to their values. In this second part, I will be focusing on the skills I would add to this awesome position.

Clio’s original job description covers the requirements for the people side very well. In my opinion, the job also requires a hybrid knowledge of entertainment and technology. The reason why I say this is because if you truly want your work as an EEC to stick out from the bunch, an immense amount of DIY is necessary to pull off a spectacular.

• Good understanding and ability to maintain a high level of production quality both in creativity and technically. (Familiarity with Adobe CC or equivalent. Experience in storyboarding concepts and/or graphic design a plus.)

As an EEC you want to create productions that look legit. Take elements that are common place to massive productions like high rotation commercials and bring them to the company event level. The budgets are endless when it comes to high rotation commercial productions, so they have the resources to have great motion graphics, multiple camera angles and a room of researchers and writers. But, that’s what is necessary in order for them to give a slick presentation that’s engaging in a short amount of time. Obviously, those types of budgets won’t be available to you as an EEC. However, if you have extensive technical know-how and can teach a team the gumption to learn and execute, you can at least look half as good for a fraction of the price. There’s a software solution for everything. When executing at this level in a company that doesn’t specialize in broadcast quality commercials, yes you’ll lose sleep for a few weeks but when that post mortem comes, there’s going to be a lot more talk on how awesome something was and less about the low click through rate.

Now, why would a company expect someone in this position to have graphic design or visual layout experience? Because we are all visual creatures and this can be used to an EEC’s advantage. It’s easy to pass the buck to an in house graphic designer. Lord knows that in this day and age of every tech company existing on the internet, there HAS to be at least ONE graphic designer in house. But they’re there to do their job, not yours. The most you could ask from them is “Hey, you’re the one who spent four years in post secondary for this stuff. What do you think?” Prepare for an onslaught of hackery. This is necessary to grow and get good at graphic design instinct. If you were that passionate about graphic design you’d be doing their job but you’re not. You just don’t have the resources on hand. This is why you should do it yourself.

Typography and good layout skills are a fantastic addition to your arsenal. Look, no one is expecting you to have the output of Blast Radius,  but as a “not-a-graphic-artist” there’s a small level of “street cred” that you get from other designers that will help you along the way (if you’ve earned it). Having those skills means that you can accept a feedback range from higher level opinions like “use blue instead of red” down to a granular level like “fix the kerning here and the leading here.” Your target audience will have a comfortable feeling when good graphic design is presented. They can’t put their finger on it, but there’s a sense of “big budget, big deal.” That’s the illusion you’re aiming for, even if it’s just for flyers promoting Hot Dog Fridays. Prepping 200 hot dogs will mean nothing if you haven’t caught their attention through promo in the first place.

• Crafty and/or construction skills and have a good knowledge of craft and/or construction materials and where to source them

Crafty and/or construction knowledge…. hmm. Ok, this is a huge one for me. Whenever I watch a large event I wonder about two things:

  • How did they make that?
  • How much did it cost?

The question of “how long would it take to make that?” comes later. Taking elements of big shows and implementing them on small budgets requires quite a bit of DIY knowledge. Have a look at the massive lettering on this stage:

To pull off that level of effect at a company party would not only be massive in budget but also time. So does this mean you should give up on this because of its’ scale? Not if you’re a next level EEC. Give it a chance and at least explore the possibilities before you write this off.

When it comes to big vision like this you must do what grandmaster chess players call “Retrograde Analysis”. The idea is to work backwards to solve problems. You say to yourself, “If I wanted this effect, I would get what’s called backlit channel lettering made.  Ten foot tall channel lettering.” You’re now talking several grand per letter. That’s obviously NOT viable. Now work backwards and start replacing what the most expensive parts of this would be. This is where good knowledge of construction materials come into play. Instead of using translucent Lexan for the lettering and it being backlit, how about front lit with hanging lights on painted plywood? Can I shrink the size down? Can I use materials that have the benefit of economy of scale? There are a handful of ways to achieve this effect, but to cover that would be way beyond the scope of this blog post. All of this will lead you down rabbit holes that will make you a handy asset to your company. Now that they know you have the ability to come close to that scale in a viable setting, they can dream big too. And when they do, be prepared to Retrograde Analyze THEIR ideas and make them into reality quickly. See section on “Getting in trouble for taking your toys apart as a kid”.

• Being able to dance or play an instrument or both….. More bonus point for doing both at the same time.

Dance or play an instrument? When I say dance I mean full on, you took classes and took it somewhat seriously. Dancing at the club for your friends birthday parties doesn’t count. Both dance and music are so closely related that I feel I became a better musician because I used to ballroom dance. Dance amplifies the emotion felt when listening to or playing music. The amount of patience necessary to be on musical time takes a lot of listening and training.

Alright, I’ll get to the part where I think it’s relevant. In every culture there’s musical genres, and in every genre, there are distinct subtleties that separate them. This also goes for dance. Being able to mix genres gives one the ability to exponentially come up with different ideas at the eleventh hour.

But this takes a lot of practice, and I mean A LOT. As in, you’ll have to listen to random playlists or even genres that you hate. Having a mental rolodex on multiple genres can make adding emotion to a scene (ie video or event) a snap. Apply this when you want to beef up a certain emotion to a video or advertisement. Or maybe you want an awesome intro for someone to walk onto the stage (ie wrestlers).

Also, when listening to genres you don’t like, you can’t pretend that you like them just to feel “eclectic”. The whole point is to figure out what you do and don’t like, then ask yourself why other people do or don’t like something. This will give you better insight into other people’s interests in order to create something relatable. Listening to that country album just might save you if get an amazing opportunity in Calgary, then have to execute big vision there.

• Getting in trouble for taking your toys apart as a kid

Having a natural curiosity instinct is key when combining creative and technical skills. In order to practice retrograde analysis, which I discussed earlier, you need to be comfortable taking things apart. And I don’t just mean taking apart an Adobe InDesign file to see how someone created an effect, but actually taking physical things apart also. A true next level EEC should find the show “How Things Are Made” stimulating. When you find out how things work, you’ll notice that there’s an algorithm for everything. When you get good at algorithm, putting together things like props for an event will become easy. As a bonus, you’ll end up knowing how to use tools which is an important life skill to have.

• Rapier wit

When dealing with vendors, employees, employees significant others and friends, you end up meeting a thousand people a day. Leaving a memorable impression on someone is difficult because THEY also meet a thousand people a day.

Meeting people and making them remember you is an art. There are many ways to do this. Being funny is one of them. The reason why I use the word “rapier” is because you’re supposed to be funny fast based on THEIR end of the conversation. You want the wit to be in the moment, not prepare knock knock jokes ahead of time. You want to say something genuine to the conversation and something relatively funny. If they chuckle and say something like “That’s funny. I’m going to use that,” it worked.

It’s also a great way to break the ice with someone. When it’s your job to get to know people, making them feel comfortable through humor will make a world of difference of how you stick in their minds. You’ll also be more approachable.

These skills, plus the people side will further improve the impact you will have on the people you work with.

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