Working on a yacht is a very demanding job for the Yacht-Master and crew. In order to successfully solve these challenges, there is a need for cooperation and interaction between the yacht crew. Each yacht crew member is an individual who needs to add value to the wellbeing of the entire yacht life. This idea is the basis of the spirit “one for all and all for one” on board. This idea leads to the unity of the crew and the principle of team working. Working together means teamwork and the successful application of this principle depends on respecting the rules. By studying the entire activity onboard yacht, it is obvious that it is almost entirely based on teamwork, i.e. each activity requires a supposed minimum of two people for completion. In a working environment like yachts, teamwork can be the basis for having pleasure and performing safe work activities.
What are TEAM and TEAMWORK
TEAM is a group of people holding themselves collectively accountable for using complementary skills to achieve a common purpose. The benefit of working as a team rather than as a group of individuals is that the end products are greater than the sum of the individual contributions. Teams amplify the benefits produced by everyone. There are different types of teams, and on the yacht there are specific teams that do the daily work.
TEAMWORK occurs when team members live up to their collective accountability for goal accomplishment.
The challenge of establishing an efficient team on a yacht depends on the yacht’s size and the number of crew. The larger the crew, the more likely the team is broken down into departments (deck, interior, engineering, etc.). Unfortunately, segregating crew members into departments creates a less cohesive team ship-wide. This is because everyone focuses on their department’s responsibilities and leaves the interests of the overall group to the captain.
If departments do not make a team, each department covers a specific area and performs when they are called to perform. Sure, they will back each other up, but they rarely all come together to perform as a whole. Each department has its role and generally gets their tasks completed on their own, with assistance from a different department from time to time. For example, a chef may get assistance from an engineer to fix a malfunctioning appliance in the galley, but the chef is still solely responsible for the meal being prepared.
A true team works when each team member strives toward the goal. It is within a department on a large yacht where true teamwork begins.
When a department has a job to do, there is mutual support from everyone to achieve whatever task needs to be done. If someone is less skilled, the team members teach each other what they need to know.
When the deck crew is doing the wash down, one area may get finished before another. Those who are finished move in to help where others are still working. Or they start moving equipment to a new section to carry on with the washdown. All of the members of the teamwork together to reach the goal.
On a well-run smaller yacht, however, the entire crew is a team. It has to be because they help one another across departments. The mate does turndowns, the steward may help do an oil change, the captain may help cook dinner and the chef may help with the washdown. Everyone works for the benefit of the rest of the team.
You may wish to view the short humorous video on “good” and “bad” teamwork…
Keys to Good Teamwork
Regardless of the size, there are five key things you can do to help promote better teamwork within your department or yacht.
1. Promote complementary skills among team members. These include interpersonal, technical and problem-solving skills. Your team needs the ability to resolve conflict among its members, as well as the ability to come up with answers to challenges you may not have faced before. Take time to teach what you know to the rest of your team.
2. Clearly articulate performance goals. Perhaps the wash down needs to be done in one day instead of two. Or perhaps the sea strainers need to be cleaned on a more regular basis. Whatever the goal, everyone needs to clearly understand what is expected of them.
3. Clearly explain the ultimate purpose for the team. Are you there to move the boat from place to place or are you there to provide top-notch service to the guests? By understanding the ultimate purpose, your team can focus better on what it needs to improve to achieve your true end result.
4. Examine and clarify the approach everyone will take to get a job done.
5. Team members must hold themselves and others accountable. If someone sleeps late or does only a part of their required task, the team needs to come together and make sure everyone understands how one person’s slacking causes more work for everyone else.
Good principles of effective teamwork:
1. FEEDBACK to and from one another
2. WILLINGNESS to back fellow members up
3. FEELING AS A GROUP whose success depends on interaction
4. FOSTERING within-team INTERDEPENDENCE
5. TEAM LEADERSHIP affects the performance of the team.
Suitability and benefits of teamwork approach/use:
– supplementation of knowledge and skills
– a higher working effect
– stress reduction
– fatigue reduction
– division of jobs and loads
– increased security
– learning through work
– strengthening communion.
Leadership and teamwork
When the work is done by a team, a leader has to exist to control and coordinate the entire activity. To be a leader means to be appreciated and respected by the crew and to be able to coordinate their activity safely and successfully. A Yacht-Master gets respect and can show authority when the crew is convinced that he is capable of exerting the authority imposed by the job, that he has the necessary competence and knowledge, that he understands different situations and is capable of solving them and that he is ready to lead fair and decisively.
If teamwork can be considered as a cognitive behaviour of human beings, leadership is a skill which has to be developed in time for most of the people. In activities which take place onboard yachts both are important and have to be well known and applied. Studies about human behaviour have shown that teamwork ability is in a close relationship with each individual’s personality. Personality will determine the interrelation with other people, interpersonal communication and reaction to the actions of others. Knowing the personality can offer the possibility of knowing how to create a team, or which people can stay together to form a team. In many situations, knowledge about each individual personality and own social interaction style can lead to avoidance of conflicts. On yachts, it is important to know how to form a team for a particular activity and how to manage each member’s personality to reach the team target. The leader, as a part of the team, is subject to the same personality conditions. However, beyond this, the leader needs to be able to interact and communicate with all team members, in all situations, and to be able to lead the team in difficult moments, during distress or dangerous situations.
There are many styles of leadership, and for yacht work, the best is the so-called democratic leadership.
The democratic leadership style is a participative style characterized by:
– involving the team members in planning and carrying out operations;
– asking before telling,
– valuing team discussion and input;
– promoting a sense of teamwork, encouraging participation and wise delegation, but never losing sight of responsibilities as a leader.
The democratic leadership style is most appreciated in all activities, including those onboard yachts, and it stimulates the team to improve their capacities and helps to increase yacht operability and safety as well as allowing a team to function in the absence of the leader.
A case study with a negative outcome
During the stay in port, the engine room crew decided to perform a maintenance job, replacing the fuel filter. They did not inform the Yacht-Master about their intentions. The yacht owner, who was not on board at that moment, told the Yacht-Master to prepare the yacht for leaving port because he was coming with a group of business partners who would like to spend a day at sea.
The Yacht-Master informed the engine room crew to prepare the engines for setting out. As fuel filter replacement was being performed, the engine room crew was not able to comply with the Yacht Master’s and yacht owner’s request, because of which the master felt embarrassed in front of the owner, and the owner felt embarrassed in front of his business partners who were invited onboard.
Conclusion: Poor teamwork as a result of poor communication about the activities onboard caused an embarrassing situation of yacht not being prepared for setting out. A meeting of the crew onboard the yacht in the morning before any work had started could have prevented such a situation. The engine room crew should have informed the Yacht-Master about their intentions, so he could have checked whether the owner had any intentions of using the yacht that day.
A case study with a positive outcome
The owner and Yacht-Master decided to replace the tender as the existing one did not satisfy the requirements of the charter guests. The replaced tender had an outboard engine while the new one had a jet drive. The tender manoeuvring characteristics with the mentioned two types of propulsion differ significantly. One of the crew members had already had some experience with jet drive tenders.
In order not to be limited to only one crew member with skills to handle the new tender, the Yacht-Master organized a training session for the other crew members so they would be capable of handling the new tender.
Conclusion: To facilitate work to all yacht crew members, teamwork is here to improve the skills of all the members. The team members teach each other what they need to know.
Lessons learned – text and checklist
As a Yacht-Master apply several common elements that help in imposing authority.
Have confidence in your own taken decisions and actions,
Accept mistakes when this is obvious,
Demonstrate respect for others,
Gain respect through accomplished actions.
Don’ts exert your power through:
Forcing respect from the crew members,
Using your position in the scope of threatening,
Refusing collaboration with the rest of the crew,
Interfering excessively in the ship onboard activities,
Ignoring the Company’s orders and indications.
A Short TEST (multiple choice questions!)