Yachting through fresh eyes!

The Islander – October 2015

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Think back to your first ever season!

Starting out in yachting as a newbie is a daunting journey. Even if you aren’t as young as the ‘young ones’ and think you have enough life skills to see you through - many find it hard to ‘weather’ life aboard.  It’s tough making the leap into yachting, but then you are thrust into the lottery of people you work with, and that takes this new experience to a complete new level!

Two newbies share their perspectives of life on board in their first year.

What should crew stop moaning about?

“After having a long spell with no guests and weekends off, some crew complain about just having to work ‘hard’. It seems like they sometimes forget why they are employed and that if the owners didn’t come aboard and create work, we wouldn’t have a job! I think some people become complacent and spoilt by the wages and perks of working in the industry. Their moaning and wanting even more, can have a very negative affect on crew morale”

It’s interesting how our perspectives of situations change over time and what to begin with seemed exceptional and fantastic, can become ordinary. However, that is also part of human nature. Motivational theorists such as Hertzberg, suggest that once something becomes ‘normal’ it stops motivating us. We get a bonus one year, that’s great and motivating, but now we expect one every year. The boost can be similar with crew perks, such as use of the toys, flights home, courses paid for, etc. Unfortunately, over time they can lose their motivational powers and in fact can have the polar opposite effect. When packages are changed, or the bonus or pay rise is not given, the impact is de-motivational. This is when the complaining often begins. Every now and then we should give that window we view the world through a thorough clean and remind ourselves of what we felt when we first came into the industry.

What could your fellow crew do more of?

“Crew should do more things off the boat and find other people to hang out with instead of just crew. There is a life outside the boat - I find that crew who go to fitness classes and meet up with locals for example, seem much happier and relaxed than crew who either always stay in the crew mess after work or only go out with each other.”

There is no denying that striking a work / life balance within the yachting industry is challenging.  However, much research has been conducted in this field over recent years and the message is clear; performance at work decreases when there is a lack of work / life balance. Stress levels increase, emotions run high and individuals can become more difficult to work with. Burnout is common, particularly aboard busy charter yachts. Where possible, invest in quality time for yourself, find some new experiences and interactions and bring that fresh new world, like a breath of fresh air back, to the boat.

What surprised you the most about the industry?

“Probably realising that grown up people can behave like my teenaged sister! You see the worst side of people, yelling and shouting, just being horrible, and then you have to work with them the next day. Worse still is if someone bears a grudge and this bad atmosphere can end up going on for weeks. I realised how important it is to be able to see past people’s outbursts, stay out of the crew politics and just keep myself professional and life simple. ”

Managing our emotions is a challenge at the best of times, and interestingly how well we do this is often impacted upon by how positive we are feeling. Being able to stay resilient to the affect others have on you is key. Inspiring Performance conducted research during the 2000 / 2001 Round the World Yacht race. They measured the Emotional Resilience levels of the skippers throughout the race and found that those that were leading the fleet (winning) increased their emotional resilience, verses those who were at the rear of the fleet which declined. Yet they had all started out with no discernable differences. Being able to hold emotions in check and put a smile on your face (although not always easy) is probably one of the most desirable qualities of a great leader and crew member.

What would you like to see change?

“The talking behind crew’s backs. People will sit in the crew mess and moan about other crew. It creates a divide in the crew and it can feel as though we are back in high school, only this time everyone is an adult!”  

It’s interesting that the bickering tends to become worse as the season comes to an end, when charters start to slow down. Maybe the work / life balance is way off by now, perhaps emotional resilience is low, or maybe crew are just feeling de-motivated. Whatever the reasons, new crew can be great observers of the industry, with their eyes wide open, some are able to really appreciate what an incredible range of opportunities this industry can provide. Could your eyes do with refreshing?!

Thank you newbies for your contributions to this article, you know who you are!

Impact Crew has a range of specialists who can work with you on an individual basis, with your senior team or the entire crew. From creating great crew team working to increasing the quality of the leadership aboard. Visit our new website and whilst you are there, why not take the leadership challenge and see how you measure up?! Visit www.impactcrew.com