Increasing Crew Productivity

The Islander – April 2018

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If you want crew to be more productive, manage less.

We know that working with the dream team results in the impression that the job is easier, although nothing in the work itself has changed. The difference is the level of crew productivity. So how do you increase crew productivity?

One solution of the problem to raising productivity might be to increase working hours. But we know this leads to burnout and in turn high crew turnover, such as on a back to back charter yacht. Another suggestion could be that we need to run a tight ship and closely manage crew.

It sounds crazy, but it’s a fact: if you want crew to be more productive, manage less. Encourage autonomy rather than micromanaging crew, give them the opportunity to take ownership of their time and resources and they will surprise you (in a good way!).

Interestingly, business has repeatedly proven that it is actually happy and engaged staff who are the most productive. So the question that really needs answering is not how to increase crew productivity, but how to engage crew.

Communication is important, and regular whole crew meetings are a great opportunity to engage and motivate crew. Having sight of the end goal or understanding the ‘why’ of the work you have been asked to do engages crew. Set whole crew targets - where possible targets which encourage cross departmental team work and work towards their common goal with greater efficiency and enthusiasm.

Use ‘walk about’ management. Catch crew doing great work, and give them meaningful feedback and praise. Be creative and find ways to reward crew individually (but not with money!), such as a sight-seeing trip, vineyard visit or meal out with the Captain. Tailor the reward to the individual and mix it up. Don’t let the rewards reach a point where they become ‘expected’. Spend quality 1:1 time with each member of your department at least once a month and discuss opportunities for them to learn, develop and progress.

What is measured can be managed. Find a way to measure productivity on board – how long does the wash down or charter turnaround take? Trust your crew to do a good job, unlock their potential and benefit from their great ideas. Much like the F1 racing teams, ask everyone to find 1% improvements in efficiency. All those one percenters will soon add up.

Stress can have a negative impact on crew performance. Encourage crew to take responsibility for their own mental, physical and emotional health and demonstrate this yourself by leading by example. Stress is often caused by conflict between crew, or feelings of being treated unfairly. Give your crew the best leadership you can, be fair, be honest and deal with issues early.

Finally, treat crew as we treat our guests - with respect, care and consideration. Watch the culture on your vessel flourish and see your happy crew be more productive than ever before.

Impact Crew specialises in working with you and your crew to get the culture you want on board. Give us a call to see how we can kick start your season, help you find your one percenters and increase crew productivity.