N2 People Skills

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Are you getting the Best from your people ? Improvement Direction

Many Super Yacht owners today would like to cut a few $$$'s from their running costs and make their  investment go a little further. Some may cut back on full time staff/crew/employees, or even their own time spent aboard. Others may try new ways of recovering some expenses by chartering their yachts, using ship transport to move their Yacht, considering skipping a minor repair or maintenance visit to a yard, or taking on the management of their Yacht themselves. Wherever you are on the scale, Super Yacht ownership is costly,  and one of the largest monthly expenses on your books is going to be your employee/staff/crew payroll

So what if you could  "Get the Best from your people" and cut costs, without cutting the end product (function), of service, safety and your experience.

We all know, that putting the the best individuals together does not necessarily mean they will create the best team, its about getting the best, and then helping them develop into the best team. Whether it is a football team or an orchestra, Corporate officers or Super Yacht crew, the answer is much the same. When it comes to the human factor and development, what is needed, amongst other things is opportunity to continually practice, inspiration, learning, autonomy, skills, and a good system to work in.

Even left to our own devices (humans) will constantly adapt and innovate to the environment they live in to survive.  Unfortunately this is not always in a positive direction. From Ponzi schemes or Enron's,  to not following standard operating procedures, to knowing the exact time to appear or disappear, we are innovative, whether it is doing less for more, or doing more for less, errors of commission or omission.

The secret is to make sure the direction is the one you want, and to keep checking that direction to validate that it is headed towards your vision. If you do not, human improvement will become a crap shoot to performance, and rolling those dice can have its consequences, as corporate chiefs and heads of BP and Goldman Sachs can attest.

Super Yacht crew training is traditionally based around technical skills, and are drilled for safety and procedure. But little time is spent on the soft side of training and development (non-technical skills), cognitive, basic skills required to live, work, and function together as an efficient team. These skills are the foundation of good management, not only in the work place but also at home (in this case aboard the Super Yacht). Captains and officers can be in deep water very quickly when dealing with 15 , 30 or more individuals that have received little training, or opportunity to develop these critical non-technical skills.
  • Communication
  • Self-Awareness
  • Situation Awareness
  • Leadership
  • Assertiveness
  • Decision Making
  • Adaptability
  • Flexibility
These have to be part of a healthy crew's 'skill toolbox', and should be constantly practiced and developed. For some this is hard to start, and development and change can lead them to regress into three successive pathologies: rule makers, naysayers, and innovation blockers:
"we have been operating like this for years and nobody has complained yet"
"we don't need anything to change"
"we do our job fine,  its that lot out there/in there, that have a problem"
" we don't have any problems, so we don't need any help"
" we just need a raise"
" we don't have time for training"
" we need better people to do a better job"
" a bit of training and development is not going to change anything"
" nobody else does this"
" we need people that can get along together"
" we tried this before and it didn't work"
" we see a problem but this will never work"
" this won't work because we have special issues"
" this is just too much work, we don't have time"
" how is everyone going to agree about this"
This is to be expected as many people are adverse to change, fortunately with training and development of the necessary skills this soon fades as you get the natural human need to improve, to work for you, not against you.

Is it a one time fix all, NO. As this months Harvard Business review writes.

Do you understand what’s required to become truly effective?

"Too often managers underestimate how much time and effort it takes to keep growing and developing. Becoming a great boss is a lengthy, difficult process of learning and change, driven mostly by personal experience. Indeed, so much time and effort are required that you can think of the process as a journey—a journey of years."

While it won't take years to get the best from your crew as a team, the development will show improving results over the years. 

This brings your crew to a new level because it focuses directly on them. By allowing the human aspect of your crew to shine through, you are encouraging them to do what comes naturally to them.

Don't overlook these all-important skills when evaluating areas of improvement for your crew and ways to improve cost efficiency. Find a way to incorporate non-technical skills (people skills) into your leadership development programs and see results immediately. Constantly getting the best from your crew,  requires constant development and guidance.