In 2005, my career took an exciting turn. I was in London working for the leadership team in charge of mobilising the rebuild of Wembley National Stadium. At the time, it was to be the biggest arena in the world with 100,000 seats in the stadium and corporate dining that would accommodate up to 10,000 people in restaurants and suites (hard to imagine in a post-pandemic world).

I was responsible for these corporate dining areas, which boasted the latest technology and promised high-end restaurant food uncharacteristic of a stadium environment. My customer group was made up of reputable business leaders, high-flying millionaires, celebrities, and global sports personalities—all with various expectations and standards. Did I mention Duchesses and Dukes? Oh, and regular soccer fans and dads who were watching the soccer with their kids.

How did we train staff to deal with these different customer types in such intense environments? Stadium environments, like many other workplace environments, have a certain intensity about them. Safety, risk, people movement and people management are all under scrutiny.

First, you need a certain mindset. We knew the key to our success was to recruit and train a team who could read a room and a situation. We helped team members develop mindsets and soft skills to adapt their service style to suit different customer needs.

If you follow the basic philosophy: how you do anything is how you do everything, then you would probably agree that all people—regardless of status and worth—deserve extraordinary service. Service does not discriminate and it’s useful to adopt a service mindset that allows you to serve people as humans, not as anything less or more.

Second, you need a critical soft skill. Social intelligence is the ability to get along with others to the point that they want to cooperate with you. It is what transpires between people when you interact. These interpersonal soft skills include good judgement, active listening, empathy and good old- fashion common sense.

How much focus is placed on training your own people’s mindsets and soft skills to enable them to succeed in a world that continues to show us the need for adaptive, flexible and socially intelligent staff?

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