N2 People Skills

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Realities of being a Crew & Owning a Luxury Super Yacht

In the  Dec-Jan 2011 issue of 'The crew Report #45" there were two interesting articles about the misfortunes of crew from very different perspectives. One about a man over board (MOB) situation aboard 'Meteor' as the First Officer takes a dunk after attempting to shake a reef out; see below:
"in the process of clipping on, the boom took a sudden bounce and flipped me off. I fell, headfirst, into the ocean".
This MOB piece is a great article that gives the reader perspectives from the First Officers point of view (in the drink), and from aboard the S/Y Meteor. It gives insight into some lessons to be learned in equipment maintenance, how easy it is to loose sight of a MOB in light seas, and how you can get disorientated, cognitively, when in the water (even in warm water), and the effects of this in regards to being rescued.

Top marks to a successful recovery by Captain and crew and thanks for letting everybody learn from the unfortunate event.

The other piece is about another kind of misfortune.  While living and working aboard a luxury Super Yacht  may look glamorous in the glossy magazines,  providing top quality service and safety 24/7 to some of the wealthiest people on the planet while living with the rest of the crew, is not always as straightforward as it sounds.

  While owners are away from their luxury Yachts the more professional of today's Superyacht crews are hard at work maintaining, repairing, varnishing, polishing and servicing these magnificent floating objects of desire. Unfortunately for some unknowing owner's and some of their crew, all is not always as it seems below decks in the human factor department: See below excerpt from "The Crew Report"

"On my last boat there was infighting and politics amongst the crew, and they took the partying way too far. I hated it, so I stopped socialising with them and after a while they
completely froze me out."

I see. Did this happen on your previous yachts as well?

"No, I spent my first two years as stew on a lovely 45-metre and I went to this 52-metre boat so I could move up to second stew. I thought being on a bigger boat would be better for my career but if this is what they’re like, it’s not for me. "

While this unfortunate event does not tell the other side of the story (maybe it was the stewardess that was the problem) it should certainly raise the eyebrows of the Luxury Yacht owner, and their managers to the smoldering fires that maybe waiting for an inappropriate moment to burst into figurative flames.

While it is easy to say that these type of incidences rarely happen, at a cost of around one million $ a meter to own a luxury Super Yacht, and crew salary well over a million a year, the question surely must be asked. Why should this happen at all?

Shouldn't Luxury Yacht owners expect the best of the best service aboard their Yachts, just as you you would expect the best at a 5***** luxury hotel or resort?  Perhaps it is here that the answer lies.

Resorts have to fight to stay on top and be profitable.  Customers get to compare services, efficiency, value to cost of service, and have the opportunity to complain, and even get their money back if not satisfied! The closest that a Yacht owner gets to this is being able to fire their crew.  Unfortunately this ends up hurting the owners wallet and does little to guarantee that the same problems will not exist in a new crew. Same system usually produces the same result, changing parts just delays the result.

But wait there's more!

 What Luxury Resorts and Hotels do have is (a different system), their own exceptional self-development and training programs.  Why, because Luxury Resorts and Hotels have to stay the best to be profitable, and they understand that great service comes from staff that are engaged, passionate and emotionally invested in the company, and given opportunity will develop and hone new skills. Not from people that maybe just working at the resort to rub shoulders with the wealthy, or working at the Hotel so they can see the world.

In last Summer's addition of Fraser's magazine for "Living, Loving and Luxury Yachts" there was an article that started with the words "Why own a Yacht in the first place". It brought up a fact that many owners only spend a few weeks a year aboard their Yachts. The article ended with the words " but once you have arrived you should never want to leave" So why do many owners end up spending only a few weeks a year aboard if they, "should never want to leave ?"

If there is any truth to infighting, crew segregating other crew, and big partying,  perhaps there is light  being shed on issues that need the attention of  the Luxury Yacht owners. Perhaps owners should consider what a profitable Luxury Super Yacht looks like, should it not be one that gives a "return on investment ?" One that makes the owner "never want to leave"and provides Service Excellence ?

Owners get your ROI
If this is the ROI, then it requires a crew that is engaged, passionate and emotionally invested in owner and Yacht, and to get this I believe,  owners must take a page from the top Luxury Resorts and Hotels in looking to provide their own exceptional self-development and training programs.

Given this opportunity to develop and hone new skills, the cream of the crop will rise to the top and be able to concentrate on their main purpose of looking after owners and their guests.

Times have changed, and it is time to change and put an end to this type of poor and unprofessional conduct. Owners deserve the best, and all crew deserve the chance to give what they are truly capable of:
Service Excellence

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Superyacht Crew Diversity- Are you sure you're getting the Best from it?

 Super Yacht Crew Diversity
Unleash Innovation and Productivity.

When Super Yacht owners change, refit, and upgrade their Yacht's and equipment, many miss an inexpensive way to upgrade the Yacht's user experience (their own). 

  It is easy to identify the inherent obstacles and barriers associated with differences.
The harder part is to make the most of that diversity, develop it to move past great, to inimitable.

Two things must be remembered:
  • It is difficult to address differences without resorting to stereotypes. In the purest form, there is no such thing as a stereotype. No person is exactly like another person, and no individual is a clone of another member of a group.
  • As diversity of a Yacht crew grows, so does the complexity of communication and the necessity to spend greater effort developing improved communication skills.
Awareness and discussion create appreciation and understanding. Understanding of personality type and diversity means not just tolerating differences among individuals or teams, but supporting and nurturing them. Diversity  developed produces variety in ideas, perspectives, talents, skills and knowledge, all desirable attributes in a high performing crew. That team becomes far more flexible, adaptable and innovative to meet owner and guest needs within the nonlinear environment aboard a Super Yacht.

Diversity will produce better solutions to problems,  higher levels of awareness, and result in higher levels of service, safety and security. Providing training and development to create a supporting and nurturing environment enhances efficiency of crew by exposing members to new issues, ideas, information and personalty type. Diversity creates opportunities for character development by teaching tolerance and respect for people, and by encouraging concern for equity. Cultural and personality type diverse crew that value and nurture people from all backgrounds, are worthy of active participation. Such a crew will flourish, perpetuate, raise longevity, development, and unleash innovation and productivity.

Making the most of diversity in a crew requires the commitment of all involved. Changing existing attitudes and assumptions maybe required, and this is not always easy. It is most often behaviors that have to change rather than attitudes. All members must be committed to what they are doing and address issues related to cultural or personality type difference.

There is always resistance to disturbing the status quo, but this is no excuse for avoiding change.

Many people believe in the old golden rule of: “treat others as you want to be treated”, but an unspoken assumption is that, “how you want to be treated, is how others want to be treated”. We all have the propensity to consider we are outside of the system and to blame someone or something else for the problems we may experience.
When you change your vantage point you discover new insights and new leverage points, and begin to ask “what if” questions:

What if respect looks different from another point of view; does it mean saying hello in the morning, or leaving someone alone, asking questions, or relying on title, rank and assumed personal mastery?

While we may share similar values, how we show those values through behavior may be vastly different. How do we know what different cultures and personality type need ? Instead of using the old golden rule, we use: "treat others as they would prefer to be treated."

Moving the frame of reference from "our way is the best way" to "let's find the best of a variety of ways" helps manage diverse environment more effectively.

Growth may have it's place to make things bigger (and sometimes slower), but (human factor)  development makes the system better able to do what it was intended to do.