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Ask the Crew Coach - Our New Leadership Q&A column

4th Oct 2013

This month our Crew Coach Alison Rentoul talks to a Captain about how to successfully wrap up the end of a busy season.

Captain:
We’ve had a really busy and somewhat stressful season with back to back charters and the crew are all pretty tired. There were a few personality clashes during the heat of the summer and I’m a bit worried that this has damaged our overall team morale a little. Several of them are due to go on holiday in a few days but before they go I want to have some kind of meeting, just to put it all behind us. How would you suggest I go about this?

Crew Coach:
It’s a great idea to have a post season debrief with your crew at the end of a busy charter period – it helps to heal any rifts that might have occurred in the heat of the moment and to process any learning that has arisen from what worked and didn’t work throughout the season.

There are several different ways you could do this, depending on the numbers of people involved and how formal or informal your crew meetings usually are. For a medium sized crew of around 8-12 I would suggest you gather everyone for a crew meeting at around 4pm, to be followed by a team dinner or night out where everyone gets to celebrate and formally acknowledge their hard work over the past few months.

It’s very important that you keep the focus of the team meeting as positive as possible because there can be a tendency for grievances to be raised in this situation and if you allow these to get out of hand it could actually cause more damage. The key to this is to acknowledge the complaint and then use the question: “What do we want to happen instead?” to stop people from dwelling on the past and turn their thoughts to desired future outcomes.

Using a whiteboard or similar, ask the crew to evaluate their overall performance throughout the season by answering the following questions, and write their answers up as you go along.

Begin with the positives (this helps set a positive framework for the discussion): - What worked well for us this season?
- How do we know we were successful? (Mention any positive feedback received that they may not have heard yet.)
- What behaviour contributed to our successes? (Point out any particularly helpful team members and thank them for their contribution).

Then lead into areas for improvement:
- What didn’t go as well as we had hoped?
- What interfered with our performance? (Where did this interference come from – was it internal/external/personal/onboard/ashore?)
- What behaviour contributed to things not going so well? (be careful not to point the finger at anyone in particular – keep this on a general level)

Now wrap up the meeting with where, as a team, you want to go from here:
What can we learn from what we have discussed so far?
What needs to be done/learnt/changed/added to prepare for our next season?
What’s our blueprint for success for next season going to be?

Working through these questions should give everyone closure on the season that has passed and hope that anything needing improvement will be addressed going forward. It will allow those going on holiday to switch off properly and get the rest they need, as they won’t be worrying about whether or not things will be resolved. It will also allow you to channel any important feedback about what could be undermining your crew’s current performance into positive actions going forward, so you can all approach the next season with confidence and fresh motivation.

Camper & Nicholsons International provides complimentary leadership training and coaching including a private and confidential hotline for the Captains of our Managed and Charter yachts. For more information about our Crew Development Program and our Crew Coach please click here.

by Camper Nicholsons

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It’s very important that you keep the focus of the team meeting as positive as possible