Poor Leadership is the primary cause of crew turnover

The Islander – July 2015

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64% of Junior crew as a result of poor leadership

We’ve all experienced good and bad leadership, whether directly or at a distance. However, the results from the Crew Turnover Survey suggest that these figures are far greater and closer to home.

Impact Crew recently conducted a survey to understand the push and pull factors for high crew turnover. When the results of the question “what would have made you stay longer?” were analysed, 64% (of crew in non-leadership roles) stated that the leadership aboard would have needed to change. (Even with all the leaders included in the data, this figure was still 30%.)

Perhaps the results are not particularly surprising. However, should the industry sit back and resign itself to this or do something about it? We are not talking about creating amazing leaders – just ones that crew don’t feel compelled to leave!

Is this acceptable?
“We witnessed the Chief Stewardess hire and fire 18 junior stews in a period of 24 months.”

When we look at the qualifications that crew are required to take, most of their development is focused around skills. However, many crew find themselves escalating through the ranks and needing to manage increasing numbers of crew.

The Captain was a good boat driver, but had no idea how to behave as a leader or how to motivated crew. Bullying and chauvinistic behaviour of both the captain and deck crew meant that I could not stay any longer.”

Much research has been conducted in the area of leadership and what people need from their leaders. A research study by Time Magazine found that staff looked for managers who could:-

  • Inspire trust and motivate
  • Have vision – were passionate and inspirational
  • Ability, willingness and self-discipline to listen
  • Strategic thinking – plan and organise
  • Have interpersonal communication skills

In another study entitled “Liberating Leadership” they found that there were certain things staff did not want from their leaders which included: -

  • Lack of sensitivity to others’ feelings
  • Inability to deal with breaches of standards including behaviour
  • Did not recognise others’ stresses
  • Did not develop staff
  • Did not request feedback from staff
  • Did not consult the team before making decisions which affected them

Interestingly, there’s no mention of competence, probably because there’s an expectation that if you are in that senior role, you should be able to do the job.

As one crew member stated:-
“I was being micro-managed, there was a lack of communication and an inability to discipline and confront crew. Basically, take a management and leadership course to learn how to properly manage and motivate crew. “

Leadership is a journey, it’s not something you can learn overnight.  Being aware of the impact you have on the people around you is so important, particularly when you are in that senior position. As the military would advise their leaders: -

“Take a long look in the mirror and ask yourself the question – ’would I like to be led by me?’ If the answer is no, do something about it!”

The corporate sector spends billions developing leaders, so why is it not commonplace within the Super-yachts. The industry prides itself in providing the highest levels of service in the world, so surely it must follow that we need to give our crew the leadership they require to perform at their peak too. 

Don’t be a statistic and let poor leadership be the cause of crew turnover on your vessel! Impact Crew specialises in team and leadership development on board – wherever in the world you are. We can work flexibly with you, offering group or individualised coaching to develop and hone team and leadership skills.