Many industries have started working with a method of giving teams leadership instead of tasks. Letting the team work with you instead of for you; work based on motivation, instead of authority. This turnaround is increasingly being adopted on board superyachts.
Historically there is a hierarchy on board and, while this is certainly important, it is also an area where better results can be achieved through teamwork than ‘under a boss’.
Peter Vogel, hospitality and leadership specialist at Luxury Hospitality Academy, notices that the new way of working is gaining in popularity. “In that respect, the superyacht industry is a super tanker. The cultural change onboard yachts moves slowly, but once the tanker is moving at speed, it will be unstoppable.”
He refers to the old, current culture of having a captain and senior management team onboard who lead. “It will always be that way, but the leadership method will change.” And this is because nowadays two aspects are important in order to keep crew satisfied. It used to be just money and leave days, but nowadays the crew members also want to enjoy their work, increase their confidence by feeling appreciated, and in turn be motivated for further growth.
Vogel digs up an anecdote from his own career as interior manager for a fleet of yachts. “My boss already said at the time: I don’t really want my personnel to walk around with stripes on their shoulders, because those shouldn’t be necessary. He was well ahead of his time…”
In every team, each player is equally important. From captain to housekeeping. Because without a good housekeeping department, the service on board isn’t complete. Each team member must feel they add value in their job and it is up to the managers and the captain to ensure they get that feeling. This may be done by finding out where each employee’s talents lie, but also by finding out which skills could be improved. The change in thinking is to focus on what an individual is naturally great at and we do this by asking ourselves the following questions:
Who are you? How do I build the strongest team around you? How do I lead each of my crew members to their success?
“Once this has been identified, you can put together your dream team and figure out exactly where the missing links are”, Vogel explains. “And when you know in what somebody excels, you can also give more specific tasks to that person, tasks that he or she then enjoys doing, enabling them to grow further. This allows you to retain crew for longer, instead of starting over, again and again in between seasons.”
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With Luxury Hospitality Academy, Vogel is currently developing an online tool for ongoing monitoring of satisfaction within a team. “Is everybody satisfied, happy or indeed stressed, or are they bored by the tasks they are given? When the onboard management team can track this, it will also enable them to respond immediately and provide guidance to the individual and the team where necessary. This not only benefits the smooth running of a team that works well together, but also keeps crew satisfied and therefore onboard for longer.”
Looking to examples in the automotive or tech industries we see a very simple three level approach:
What is your individual purpose?
What is your added value in the team?
How does the team aid the effective running of the organization?
When you look at our relatively young industry and apply this thinking, you would be expecting that all assets [read yachts] are managed professionally through effective leadership. Everyone in the team would understand the need for having a mutual vision with a clear mission underlined with core values. The individuals would expect to have clear individual, team and organization goals and everyone onboard would commit to a code of conduct to operate within. Utopia?
We all know that we are still far away from this dream scenario, however it is starting to happen. At Luxury Hospitality Management we have been involved in some exciting projects, with early adaptors as we call them. Those who have been around for more than 20 years in this industry will remember the 'good old days'. They’ve long passed. The industry has already changed and it’s going to continue, for some. Change is not easy. With all its benefits, it is however vital.