My chief stew micromanages everything us girls do. She doesn’t trust us to make a table setting, sort laundry, set up a cabin, and she tosses out any ideas we bring to the table. Everything else on board is great but her stress, moods and micromanaging make it really difficult on a daily basis. It feels like no matter what we do, we lose, and it’s bringing down the morale for us. She’s also dating the captain. Help!
This is a situation I have heard all too often. I’ve been in a similar situation as a junior stew, and I know firsthand that is not a fun position to be in! Leaders need to have faith in their team and, at best, guide and teach them to create a successful, healthy and good working environment.
It sounds to me like this is your chief stewardess’s personal problem or insecurity, and I really doubt it has anything to do with you or the other stewardesses. I know it can feel disheartening, but you never know the context or the background to why a person is the way they are. Maybe they were micromanaged throughout their career and it’s the only way they know how to be. Maybe the fact that she is also dating the captain adds stress to the position. I’ve met chief stews in the past who feel threatened by new ideas, or really struggle to delegate and feel they need to do it all themselves, which can result in stress and mood swings.
The best advice I can offer is to confront her about it, ask to have a meeting as an interior team and politely, but factually, state your concerns. Don’t allow it to come across as an ambush or an attack on her as a leader. Instead, first express and highlight all the great things she does as your head of department. Sometimes appreciation of a department head from their team goes a long way! Then voice the fact that you would like to prove to her what you have learnt from her by allowing you all to do it on your own. Ask for constructive feedback on what you are doing — knowing that her opinion is valued should also improve the situation.
People in leadership positions need affirmation in what they are doing just as much as the people working under them. When she realizes she has your support and you want to make her proud, I’m sure she will begin to loosen up and allow you to do more and experiment more with the different areas in your department.
Ask her to show you her way. Take pictures to let her know you are serious about keeping it structured to the way she likes things. Maybe even suggest making up a manual for her. At all times, make her believe it’s her way and her idea. Slowly but surely, she will hopefully come around and allow you to sprinkle a little of your own fun ideas on the way things are done.
If this doesn’t work, there is the option to speak with the captain, but he may or may not be willing to hear you out. If not, well, the only way forward, if you want to progress and fly, is to find another job. There are many incredible, nurturing chief stews out there who wish to grow their teams and see the individuals flourish. Good luck!
IN HER EIGHT-YEAR CAREER ON YACHTS AND TWO SEASONS ON BRAVO TV’S BELOW DECK MEDITERRANEAN, CHIEF STEW BUGSY DRAKE HAS PROVED THAT LEVEL-HEADED LEADERSHIP IS HER FORTÉ. IN A BIND? NEED SOME ADVICE? ASK BUGSY! EMAIL CREW@TRITONNEWS.COM.