Most yacht captains got into their line of work for the boats and the sea, not for a love of management. Nevertheless, being a good human resources manager is an essential part of the job. YachtInfo – the seminars put on by the ISS, USSA and the MIASF at the Fort Lauderdale boat show in October – tackled this subject with some tips and information for captains.
Vicki Abernathy of AERE' Fenders by Praktek and also a human resources expert simplified the management subject by offering the 3Rs.
Recruit the right people: Hire for attitude, advises Abernathy. Once you have candidates with the right qualifications and experience, she says, the most important hiring criterion is to match the candidate’s personality to that of the crew and yacht.
Always check references! Past behavior predicts future performance, says Abernathy. One captain asked if it was illegal in the U.S. to give a bad reference. Abernathy said it is not, if the reference is factual. A lot of checking references is hearing what’s not being said, such as if a captain will only confirm the candidate’s dates of employment and doesn’t say anything about their performance. She also recommends doing a criminal background check and that employers can run credit reports in certain U.S. states.
Retain and develop the right people: Build a team and cross-train them. Know that each crewmember is different and learn the best way to communicate with each person. Use encouragement (screaming doesn’t usually motivate people, captains!) and both offer and receive feedback as well. If criticism is needed, Abernathy recommends pulling the crewmember aside for a word, instead of critiquing them in front of the entire crew.
Finally, get Rid of bad crew. It doesn’t always work out and one person can be poison to the whole team. If one crewmember is ruining the yacht’s dynamic, it’s not the time to be nice, says Abernathy.
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