smart crew strategies

onboard understanding and communications start before boarding. Empower your crew...

...the key is to harness this excitement to your advantage. Start by empowering the unsuspecting crew member before they even set foot on the vessel.

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This article has appeared in Ahoy Magazine - February 2022.
It has since been updated here.
‘don’t be a Lemming and follow the crowds, get out there and just do it’

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Bringing all this theory together

With careful word choice, your introduction of crew to a yacht, your expectations, the rules that apply and boundaries, can be generally overcome without a word being said.

Is this overboard? Many will say yes. Does it help? Most definitely, especially with safety-at-sea and with any legal issues in particular with crew who are not friends or family.

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Information Modules

On this website, click the 'joining us' dropdown menu. There are two selections.

The 'first time' link unknowingly introduces new crew to some ‘Must do…’ and ‘Can’t do…’ information, as well as basic safety information before they even get to the yacht. This plays on the phycological side of learning and memory.

The 'offshore crew' link is for our more serious offshore crew. While they are mostly friends of mine, this is more serious. A crew member here must be able to basically and safely handle the vessel with the captain incapacitated.

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Legal understanding, or declaration.

While having a non-confrontational approach with a manual has its advantages, there are times when you really need a ‘Must do…’.

Crew need to understand the seriousness of certain things, and as a captain, be assured that this stands in a court-of-law.

What if the crew member refuses to get off the yacht in a foreign country because you have had a falling out, and they expect you to buy their air ticket home? I have heard this more than once.

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Controlling gradient.

In some countries, controlling/superiority gradients (as in ‘respect for your elder who is older than me, and therefore must know more than me’), is so steep that it discourages those lower on the team ladder to effectively engage and communicate.

So how do we ensure control without the perception of being over-bearing?

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The words ‘How to…’ are very particular. 

Words in a document such as ‘Must do…, Training, Requirement, Have to…, Directed, You must…, Don’t…’ all introduce a psychological disciplinary barrier in many peoples’ minds.

They are very controlling words and distance the crew person from enjoyment or fun. So word choice is extremely important.

If you are paying someone to do a job, that is different. Then introducing ‘Must do…’ can be to your advantage. You see this in many professional manuals from the military, to cruise liners, and airlines.

As a cruiser, we want and need a more chilled out approach. 

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Using psychology behind printed material.

An option that has worked for decades is printed material. Large cruise liners use this very effectively. Their material doesn’t ramble on about every crack, rivet or opinion, but rather a ’How to…’ document, or flyer. Later, I’ll discuss the reason why I think these specific words of ‘How to…’ are so important.

Having information empowers people to help resolve challenges, and possibly the captains life (i.e. having a heart attack). Even if crew forget, a simple ‘read-and-do’ document will reap huge reward.

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Advantages of providing information

There is a fine line between trying to allow crew the freedom to enjoy themselves, and the vessel owner running around trying to stem the damage, because you have offended someone.

A wrong word, or phrase quickly sows-the-seed of offence.

So how do we tackle this challenge and bring everyone onto the same page in a harmonious way? 

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