N2 People Skills

Friday, February 26, 2016

Hiring new crew - Firing new hires. How to get it right.

yOU hired the right person for the job….. Right?


 yoU checked their references and they were all great…. Right?


YoU even made sure the new crew’s direct supervisor interviewed him/ her to make sure you were all on the same page…Right?

YOU went through their CV with a fine comb and were quite impressed by the longevity and their verbal references also.

But now for some reason this seemingly great prospect is now just not performing how you had thought they would, and the mate is asking whether you are going to keep them for the rest of the season, or bite the bullet (even though it’s so close to the boss arriving again), and make another change!


It happens all the time. Crew are hired with high hopes and then disappointment, as they don’t perform as we thought they should.

In some cases you see the first signs of trouble as:

  • Stalling
  • Resentment
  • Stale thinking
  • Poor work
  • Absenteeism/late
  • Withdrawal


So what is going on?


You know what is required of the position and you are pretty sure your new crew had the skill to complete the jobs. 

Well before you roll out the plank and the boss’s cheque book to pay for another set of uniforms, flights, training and all the extra time it takes to get any new crew up to speed, and add the stress to your other crew. Let’s stop and take a closer looK.



 We all have skills and a will. When you hired said crew you researched and made sure they had the skills required to at least make a start of the job. 
And at interview it’s more than likely that you saw the will was there to get the job, otherwise you wouldn’t have hired them. So perhaps a look at how they are being manage,  or better coached?

 Let’s look at Skills and Will matrix  and see if there is something you can do to make that hire the right hire.

Aim of coaching to get to the delegate quadrant.


In the diagam you see ‘WILL’ and ‘SKILL’ are on adjacent sides.

SKILL depends on experience, training, understanding and role perception.

WILL depends on a desire to achieve, motivators, and confidence.

What you need to do is diagnose whether your new crew’s skill and will are high or low for the jobs required, and then identify the appropriate coaching/management style*. 


For example let’s say the new crew is a deckhand that has high will but low skill to drive the main tender.  
In this case the manager (mate or bosun) will need to Guide* the crew.

Guide* - The supervisory role (boson or mate) being to invest time early on to coach and train, answer questions and explain and create a risk free environment to allow early mistakes and learning. As skills build they can relax control as progress results.

If however the new crew seems to have high skill, but low will, the correct style would be Excite*.

Excite* - Identify the reason for low will. Is it task, management style, or personality? Then motivate (you need to know what motivates your crew at this point), monitor and give feed back.

In both examples the idea is to get to the crew to square ‘Delegate*’


Delegate* - Bosun or mate now provides the crew freedom to do the job and sets objectives, not method and praise while making sure they don’t ignore them.

 The coach/supervisor/manager should as the crew’s skills and will improve, encourage the crew to take responsibility and involve them in decision making, using a “tell me what you think” in changes made along the way.

As crew continue to grow give them more stretching tasks, and depending on their preferred style, make sure do not over or under manage.

Simple right. And no plank required, and your hiring decision is now not looking so bad.

This matrix has been around in coaching and management circles for a while and it works to a point. The important point (more so as your crew live and work in the same place), is to know how each crew is best motivated and how each crew is best directed.  For without this you are back to trouble.

Henry Ford once said:

“How come whenever I ask for a pair of hands I get the whole person instead?”

If you want continued and lasting results from crew you have to look at the whole person.

One quick look at the UK Premier League will show you what happens when a manager forgets he has a whole person, not just a football player.  They forget about motivations and stressors and with just one misstep of behaviour a very expensive player can become a very expensive problem. 
Was it a bad hiring decision, poor management / coaching or a lack of knowledge about the individual. 
In most cases all of the above.

It easy to point a finger at the player, just as it’s easy to say the crew are lazy, has a big ego, or needs a good kick up the a……..  

But you hired them and you had the chance to assess this in  the first place. The question you may want to ask is do you have all the information you need?

How to get it right.


The skills and will matrix will help you make the right decisions to get you knowledge of the next step, but you still need a lot more information about your new hire to know how to increase motivation. 

Should you:


Provide opportunities for independent work?
Structure assignments so they can work with a group?
Provide opportunities to work cooperatively with others?
Create opportunities for demonstrating expertise?

If you are unsure which of the above will increase motivation for a particular crew, then you need to understand the person better.

You do not need a degree in psychology to figure this out, but you do need a way to help you understand all this in a short time, because we are complex beings, and what works for one generally does not work for all.




For us we use something called Everything DiSC. It’s well researched set of tools and used by over a million people a year. What love about DiSC is it can be used by all crew from captain to deckhand, it's quick, affordable and compared to what turnover costs it's a no brainer.

Try the Skill/Will matrix on any crew you are having problems with and see if you can adapt your style to help them. But remember you have the whole person aboard and they are not just working aboard, but living with you as well.

Want to know more about Everything DiSC and what is can do for you on your yacht?