N2 People Skills

Monday, April 18, 2016

Managing People, Manageing your CREW

Head Stewardess, Purser, Officer, Bosun, Chief Mate, Chief Engineer, Captain, leaders and managers!


All the positions mentioned require you to manage and lead other people, and while time can be a factor it can become the cause of doing the wrong thing right.

What makes a great manager stand out from an average one, how different are the two, and what difference does it make in the long run on a yacht?

From a standpoint of the person being managed or led poorly, it's stressful and generally ends in one of several ways (none of which are great), and many times it's caused by doing the wrong thing right.

The results can be a yacht owner and crew dealing with sub-par performance until the inevitable happens (crew leave or get let go), and then a replacement is found, and sometimes the whole thing starts again. 

Doing the wrong thing right.  

Russ Ackoff, the American management guru, describes this perfectly:


“The righter we do the wrong thing”, he explains, “the wronger we become. When we make a mistake doing the wrong thing and correct it, we become wronger. When we make a mistake doing the right thing and correct it, we become righter. Therefore, it is better to do the right thing wrong than the wrong thing right. Most of our current problems are the result of policy makers and managers busting a gut to do the wrong thing right.

Getting the right thing wrong is better than putting the wrong thing right.”

From an estimate gained from a large yachting company that not only manages yachts but also places crew, their average crew longevity was just about a year. NOT GREAT BY ANY STANDARDS. 

Are managers doing the wrong thing right, and how do you get that shift to the right?

When new crew arrive aboard and managers set about getting them settled in, crew can be given paper work, get uniform, start getting familiar with yacht rules and structure, safety information and so on. But is this the wrong thing right!


  • Do you know how to actually work effectively with this person? 
  • Do you know the best way to communicate with them when trying to connect?
  • Do you know how to approach them when problems need to be solved?
  • Do you know how to deal with them when things get tense?
  • And will they be at ease enough to bring you important information when you need it?


The list goes on, decision making, delegating, problem solving, complimenting, and simple communication and feedback, all vital to information transfer. 

By dealing with the facts and basics of safety, protocol and procedures first, are we in fact, doing the wrong thing right.

No better place is this seem than flying on commercial planes. Take a look around when you next fly and see how many people are actually paying attention to the safety messages. Because of time restraints its too difficult to deal with all different styles of people, or for that fact all the languages of the world. 


They just pick the most likely style and most likely languages and leave it at that, and we all hope or pray that we don't have to remember where that exit was, or how to operated it.

But on a yacht you do have the time, and today the resources available to quickly find out the style of the new crew arriving onboard and be able to see how they fit into the team and how they fit with your own preferred style.



Success at any level on a yacht requires that you must rely heavily on others and be tuned in to each crew's needs, preferences, and styles. Each member of the crew is as important as another for the whole yacht to run smoothly and safely.

Simply put you must become a people expert.


So what makes a great manager other than being a people expert? The Harvard Business Review say this:


There are as many styles of management as there are managers, there is one quality that sets truly great managers apart from the rest: They discover what is unique about each person and then capitalize on it. Average managers play checkers, while great managers play chess. The difference? In checkers, all the pieces are uniform and move in the same way; they are interchangeable. You need to plan and coordinate their movements, certainly, but they all move at the same pace, on parallel paths. In chess, each type of piece moves in a different way, and you can’t play if you don’t know how each piece moves. More important, you won’t win if you don’t think carefully about how you move the pieces. Great managers know and value the unique abilities and even the eccentricities of their employees, and they learn how best to integrate them into a coordinated plan of attack.
So the job of Head Stew, Pursor, Officer, Bosun, Mate, Engineer, and Captain is to turn one crew’s particular talent into performance.  You need a way to get that knowledge quickly, and be able to communicate it objectively in a way that the new crew is open and alert to.
AN INTERACTION MAP OF  A CHIEF MATE AND A DECKHAND.
The above comes from a real managers report on a large yacht. This is  Everything DiSC® and used for team building, crew communication, conflict management, motivation, productivity and career development.

Today there is no reason to do the 'wrong thing right' and every reason to 'do the right thing right'.


If you want to be a great manager you need to have a good understanding of your own behavior and that of the crew you manage. You should be able to understand and appreciate the styles of the crew you work with, and have knowledge and insight into how to make communication more effective. 


Great managers and leaders create strategies to overcome challenges and know how to best use the strengths of the people they work with. 


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