Camper and Nicholsons
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Crew coach: How to create a united crew with diverse backgrounds

3rd Feb 2015

Recruitment can be a tricky process for Captains. Camper & Nicholsons' Crew Coach offers expert advice on how to identify and select the best candidates for your yacht and team.

Captain: I’m in the process of putting together a new team for the forthcoming season. I’ve shortlisted the candidates I think seem best for the roles, however they are all different ages and nationalities and are from different backgrounds. I’m slightly worried that having such a diverse team might not work: how do I choose the right crew from the selected candidates to ensure everyone works well as a team?

Crew Coach: As you rightly point out, the challenge of creating the right mix of personalities and skills—a mix that works under pressure—is one of the more difficult aspects of a Captain’s role.

The right mix of skills is easy to come by; these you can find just by looking through a stack of CV’s, but the right mix of personalities is not quite so simply arrived at. Having said that, you don’t have to rely on guesswork—there really is a way to create a ‘dream team’.

The secret is that all comes down to values. By placing a strong focus on values, you are much more likely to have a cohesive crew with good longevity and a happy and productive onboard culture.

So, just what are values?

• They are your inner GPS system – we base all our actions, choices and behaviour on our value system, usually without even being consciously aware of this.
• Values are non-negotiable boundaries – when they are conflicted we tend to feel angry, upset or annoyed.
• They are what you stand for and believe in – they are principles you uphold and are sometimes even prepared to fight for
• They are often thought of as moral guidelines – they form the basis of most rule systems and laws and are the fibre that bonds groups and societies together
• They are your big WHY! – they are the reason you do what you do, and the underpinning cause that gives your actions purpose.

Because of all this, values are extremely powerful. Shared values can create a common thread running through even the most diverse group of people to form an extremely resilient bond. To harness the power of values to bond your crew, you first need to figure out the core values of your yacht (as in which values do you want your crew to uphold)–and then source candidates who share these values.

To do this, make sure your yacht’s values, and the values you demand as Captain, are clear to candidates before they even apply. If you’re a strict Captain that believes a lot of partying gets in the way of work, then be honest and say that in the job ad. If you are a stickler for safety and regulations, or if humour is really important within your team, then say that too. Communicate your values with the crew agents and in your job postings, and you will be far more likely to attract like-minded people.

When interviewing, continue this strong focus on values. Don’t just ask people if they agree with the values you’ve stated, ask them what the values mean to them and how they demonstrate them. For example, if your top 3 operational values were Respect, Communication and Safety, you could ask questions such as:

• When and where is it important to show respect and how would you do this?
• Give me an example of good communication from your perspective?
• Tell me about what safety means to you.

Their answers will reveal how high a priority those values are to them and whether their understanding of these values is in alignment with your own. As a result, you will also recruit people who will be far more motivated and committed to the success of the yacht and its goals.

To reinforce the bonding process, once you have your new team, communicate the values day to day. It can be easy for people to forget what your yacht values are if they are never mentioned! Communicate them actively by talking about them in meetings, training, drills and one-to-ones. For example if you want to encourage safety as a high priority, have a crew meeting to discuss and define what this means and what kinds of behaviour are and are not agreed as ‘safe’. Everyone needs to agree on the definitions in order for people to then align their behaviour to what is desired of them.

Going forward, reward or correct people by measuring their behaviour against the yacht’s core values. Relate these values to specific activities, tasks and responsibilities, for example identify the values underpinning what is expected of each crew member. When you use coaching, mentoring and teambuilding to help crew develop a deeper understanding of, and commitment to, fulfilling values in their job role you’ll find you have a closer, more committed team – regardless of the diversity of their background.

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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Shared values can create a common thread running through even the most diverse group of people to form an extremely resilient bond. To harness the power of values to bond your crew, you first need to figure out the core values of your yacht (as in which values do you want your crew to uphold)–and then source candidates who share these values.