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Taking the Helm: Paul Ferdais
The yachting industry is full of work opportunities. If an opening presents itself on another boat, what keeps a captain’s best crew from leaving? There are many reasons why crew leave their positions. Here are some of the most common.
Opportunities for advancement. The reality is that there is only one captain’s job on a boat. There is only one first officer position. Without the opportunity for advancement, top performers are more inclined to seek opportunities elsewhere.
Increase in workload. Vessels seem to get ever larger and have fractions of the crew they used to have. Large new builds can have a crew of 22 today, when in the past there may have been 32.
The work itself. When crew join a vessel, they are full of energy and ready to give their full effort. Over time, motivation drops and the level of work performed is impacted simply because of the repetitive nature of the work.
For example, the deck team completes a wash down just before the guests arrive. The boat leaves the dock and heads out into some wavy conditions, sending sea spray all over the deck. At the first opportunity, the deck crew will go out and rewash what they just cleaned. Over time, the repetitive destruction of the good work done on the vessel can demotivate.
Some leaders may see this as part of the job, which it is, or make a joke and call it job security. In reality, when the hard work done by the crew is destroyed before their eyes, team members’ motivation can slowly diminish over time, regardless of motivation strategies employed by the captain.
Striving for perfection. We work on amazingly beautiful boats. Some might call them works of art. The expectation crew often encounter is that they have to keep the boat in perfect working order and deliver perfect service at all times.
Unfortunately, the idea of perfection is a fallacy. No one and nothing is absolutely perfect. If a chief stew calls for perfection in the interior team’s work, the chief sets himself/herself up for disappointment.
So how do we retain our best crew? Here are five strategies to put into practice today.
At the end of the day, the competitive advantage one vessel has over another comes down to the people. If a boat has highly skilled, highly motivated crew members, they will have the greatest chance of fulfilling guest desires and dreams.
A former first officer, Paul Ferdais is founder and CEO of The Marine Leadership Group (www.marineleadershipgroup.com). Comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.