Making the most of the “trial” period

The Islander – February 2015

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Manage their expectations and the rest is easy!

POSITION FILLED! You’ve found your new crew and now it’s just a case of making sure they can actually do the job; as well as get along with everyone else! So how long do you give them?  Some crew placement agents will give you up to three months to ensure you are completely happy. So how do you know that they are right for the job? How should you spend the trail period checking them out, or “testing” them? Or do you wait until you reach the deadline and then make a decision, by which time you’re well into the season? Here we take a look at a process that should enable you to make up your mind within the first month. Saving everyone time and energy if they are not right for you.

Setting clear standards and expectations as part of the induction process is key. This is usually done very well in terms of the role, but each yacht will also have its own unique ways of doing things. Do the deck crew have phones with them on deck or not? Does the technology get turned on during dinner, or off?! Letting new crew know your “ground rules” will save time and everyone’s stress levels.

Following up is so important, letting them know that you particularly do like something they do, just as importantly as anything you don’t like. They are not psychic and need to be told if they are over stepping the mark, cutting a newbie slack can actually be the start of bad habits. Often the message we need to give is not so much around the work itself, but about behaviours, which is another reason why it can be so tricky to do. When giving feedback, good news or bad, staying focused on the specifics and remaining positive about the outcome, will make it easier to do.

Feedback top tips

  • Be specific – be objective and give examples to bring the message to life.
  • So what! – why is this important, what are the consequences. Just because they tie a bowline in a different way to you, as long as it’s still a bowline!
  • Make it a conversation – ask for them to identify any changes that may need to be made, rather than “telling” them what to do.

In the last edition we discussed the use of 1:1 meetings to develop crew. New crew in particular need to be given this time regularly, to let them know how they are performing and “measuring up” to what is expected from them. This time will also give you the opportunity to find out what they like and perhaps don’t like about working and living on this yacht.

Checking in with new Crew

  • Week 1
        • Find out their initial impressions and any issues they may have
        • Try to have at least 3 positive pieces of feedback
        • If they need re-directing tell them as early as possible
  • Week 2
        • Ask for feedback from other crew members, from all departments
        • Follow-up and give feedback on their performance and interactions with the crew
        • Set additional objectives and expectations as necessary
  • Week 4
        • With any luck you should be in a position to know whether they are a keeper or not! Are they achieving the objectives? Do they “fit in”?
        • If a keeper – create a development plan with them which looks at their future aboard with you.

Impact Crew is here to help you with your leadership journey – please contact us if you have any questions or need advice.

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