Linda led the Event Services team at the London Olympic Games where 17,000 volunteer Games Makers hosted 9 million spectators and shattered the belief that British people don’t do service. They became one of the most iconic and memorable symbols of the games. Linda developed her expertise at Virgin Atlantic where she was responsible for the airline’s award winning service, relentlessly driving the service promise of ‘Brilliant Basics, Magic Touches’.
What Linda Thinks...
How do you turn 17,000 people, who’ve never met each other, know little about the organisation, and may never have worked with customers before – into the people who made the London Olympic Games the greatest show on earth?
We didn’t call them Games Makers for nothing. Our vision was always that the Games would never be just about sport, or about London, but would be the people’s Olympics. It would be the chance for EVERYONE to be part of the greatest show on earth – the athletes, the spectators and the volunteers themselves. The Games Makers were absolutely key to achieving this.
I firmly believe that any organisation can aspire to get their people to do the same. Given the right motivation, training and support – all kinds of ‘ordinary’ people can do the most extraordinary things and really bring an organisation’s purpose and vision to life.
For the Olympics, 3 things were key to success:
1. An absolutely clear sense of purpose – Games Makers weren’t just trained to do specific tasks and make things run smoothly; the focus was on giving them a real sense of purpose. They knew they were a vital part of something important – so that they had a real emotional connection to the games
2. Personality above script – specific training was important, but it wasn’t about scripts and prescribing exact behaviours. It was more about ensuring they understood their role in making the games happen in a fun and caring way. We wanted above all to allow their personality to shine through and let them to be spontaneous in creating those little moments of magic that turned the spectator experience into a memorable one.
3. Their role was elevated – this is really important. They were never treated just as functional deliverers, or as ‘temporary staff’ – their role was respected as much as that of the athletes. Everyone was give the title ‘Games Maker’ and it immediately gave the whole team a sense of what their role was and what they were there to achieve.
There is no doubt that the Games Makers grabbed the hearts and minds of our nation and the world.
Just imagine if you could harness that spirit for your organisation.
- Led frontline Event Service team at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games
- Director of In-flight Services for Virgin Atlantic
- HR Director for National Air Traffic Services
- Regular speaker in the public and private sectors
- Customer experience strategy development
- Employee engagement
- Leadership engagement
- Business speaker