Do not take micromanagement personally

Jan 13, 2014 by Alene Keenan

Interior crew should make this their New Year’s Resolution No. 1: Resolve not to take micromanagement personally.

When you are a new crew member, it may seem like your boss hovers over your every move, putting your judgment and your work ethic under constant scrutiny. Your boss may be checking in constantly, correcting your work, and asking for updates so often that it seems like you can never accomplish any task. It is hard to feel productive when you are constantly interrupted.

If this sounds like the situation on your yacht, do yourself a favor and make a resolution that this year, you will not instinctively take this personally. Resolve to keep a positive attitude and build a respectful relationship with the people onboard.

In yachting there are so many details to be carried out, it can be hard to see the big picture and discern where you fit in. You have to wonder why things are handled the way they are. First and foremost, it is imperative to remember that there is a chain of command, and the captain is at the top of that chain. The department heads report directly to the captain, and their realm of authority falls under his or hers.

When the captain gives you an order to do or to refrain from doing something, follow orders immediately. Even if you question the captain’s decision or authority, now is not the time to say so. Any discussion is to be conducted later, and in private.

So much of our work in yachting centers on having the proper boundaries, both personally and professionally. In many instances, crew members and even department heads do not know how to set and keep good boundaries. They may have been promoted beyond their abilities and are operating outside the realm of their capacity. This can lead to a mad scramble to stay in control of things and, to counterbalance the situation, they may try to influence the outcome of every little thing.

In other words, they start to micromanage.

In many cases it is a matter of wanting to feel in control of a situation, to fight off feelings of insecurity or to avoid the feeling of failure or being blamed when things go wrong. Frequently, they are simply repeating the way they were managed in the past and do not know any other way.

When managers feel that they have to constantly monitor your performance it could be that they are trying to keep tabs on efficiency. There are steps you can take to respond in a positive manner when you feel suffocated and pressured on your job.

Don’t wait until you can’t bear it any longer and have a big emotional explosion and walk off the job. It is far more constructive to confront your boss respectfully and ask for feedback.

First, make sure that your performance is up to par. You may not be doing as well as you think you are, but without feedback, how would you know? Make sure you meet all of the requirements of your job. Show that you are trustworthy and on top of your work. Ask for feedback.

By having an open dialogue you can create an opportunity to express your feelings about being constantly monitored, and you may have the chance to tell them you feel bad because you feel like you are constantly disappointing them and even creating extra work for them.

Many times when people are super controlling, they really feel they are being helpful. Frame your discussion in a way that makes it clear that you are not criticizing someone’s management style, but that you want to know how to improve your work. Stay positive and respectful. Ask what’s expected of you and how you’re doing, and offer reassurance that you can do your job without such close supervision.

Resolve this year that you will not jump to conclusions about things, you will try to be understanding, respectful and considerate of your crew members at all times, and you will not take things personally right off the bat.


Alene Keenan has been a megayacht stew for more than 20 years. She teaches at MPT in Ft. Lauderdale and offers interior crew training through her company, Yacht Stew Solutions

( Download her book, The Yacht Service Bible: The Service Manual for Every Yacht, on her site or Comments on this column are welcome at


About Alene Keenan

Alene Keenan is a veteran chief stew, interior training instructor/consultant, and author of The Yacht Guru’s Bible: The Service Manual for Every Yacht.

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