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How To Be Unforgettable Crew - Get engaged!

(previously posted in LinkedIn)

John was 22 years old and a new deckhand aboard a 60m yacht. He had been on for three weeks now. 

He was beginning to wonder if he had made the right choice of yacht as he was with the bosun in a tender doing 30+ knots, with no kill cord or lifejacket worn by either of them as they headed to scope out new anchorage for the main yacht.

John was thinking he would feel safer if he could only wear a life jacket at appropriate times and wondered what happened to the standing orders he had listened to when he first joined the boat.

John had recently taken his

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAg9AAAAJDYwNmQzYjVmLThhOGEt RYA, PBL2 when he had to wear a lifejacket and kill cord (as did the instructor).

 Yet here he was in a much faster boat and not wearing either lifejacket or kill cord. He was beginning to feel not very safe onboard anymore.  Just yesterday he had to wash the transom on the main yacht without a lifejacket or harness (or anyone watching), as he hung off railings and balanced on a small ledge, he found it all a bit disconcerting.

The crew he worked with never seemed to wear lifejacket's in tenders, or remember to put a kill cord on. He was a bit unsure of his role on the deck team, and while he put this down to being the new kid on the block, he did not feel energised or empowered. In fact the thought of offering his wisdom or insight, or expressing his views so they might be taken into account as decisions were made seemed like a wish and dream!

John wanted to say something at this moment, he wanted to put a lifejacket on, wanted to say to the bosun "can we stop so you can put the kill cord on and both put lifejackets on", but he had the feeling he would be scorned at.

John was not engaged and was having a hard time putting his best foot forward . 

In fact some crew had also started to feel that John was not putting his best in, and the chief mate was thinking that perhaps he had made a mistake in hiring John. 

When crew are not engaged they may foot drag, procrastinate, make poor decisions, skip or ignore safety procedures, and likely not put their all into what they are doing.


This is a fictitious story, BUT the points mentioned all came from interviews with crew and first hand observations. While this may not happen on many yachts, it happens and outlines what can happen when a whole crew or even one are not engaged.

If you as CREW have felt, of been in situations like this read on to see how you can avoid this and become unforgettable.

The UK Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills commissioned a report to find out what employee engagement was and find out what its potential benefits for companies, organisations and individual employees were. What it found set out evidence that underpins what we all know intuitively, which is that only organisations (yachts in our case), that truly engage and inspire their employees (CREW), produce world class levels of innovation, productivity and performance. In our fictitious story we see some of the bad results of crew not engaged.

The report revealed (amongst other things), that only one in three employees were found to be engaged. 

Given yacht crew are employed to offer a safe, ‘out of this world experience', this is perhaps something everyone in the yachting industry should pay close attention to.

So what is engagement and why does it matter?

Lets call engagement something that is based on trust, integrity, two way commitment and communication. Something that should happen between yacht/captain and yacht crew, and between managers aboard and team members. Below you will find an infographic that shows the basics of how crew engagement comes about.


Engagement is an approach that increases the chances of work success, it contributes to team and individual performance, productivity and well-being: 

  • It can be measured
  • It varies from poor to great
  • It can be nurtured and dramatically increased
  • It can be lost and thrown away

Engagement is not something extra, its what people do, and how they do it. It’s how we survive and grow. How we give our best, how we align with a vision and how we champion that vision to get the best results.


When crew are engaged they pay attention, feel proud of the yacht they work for, are inspired to do their best and motivated to deliver team and yacht objectives. Engaged crew understand their role aboard, they are aware, energised and know where they fit into the team’s purpose and objectives.AAEAAQAAAAAAAAczAAAAJDhlNThmOGQ0LTRjODYt

Engaged crew:

Have a clear understanding of how they and their team are to fulfill its purpose, objectives and goals:

  • Know how they might change to fulfill these better 
  • Know they have a voice in this journey to offer ideas, express views 
  • Know these will be taken into account as decisions are made

Why does it matter?

 The report showed that 64% of the people surveyed said they had more ability and skills to offer than they were currently being asked to demonstrate at work. They were not engaged.

It also showed that organisations with high levels of employee engagementwere more efficient and effective, and that highly engaged employees were more customer focused (great for the large yacht industry).

Engaged crew care about the future of their organisation (yacht), and put in greater effort to help it meet its objectives.

They feel proud of the organisation (yacht) they work for (on), are inspired to do their best, and motivated to deliver the organisation’s (yacht) objectives.


Organizations that have succeeded in the engagement of employees (in the UK study) had five common enablers in place. These were noted as:

  • Strategic narrative
  • Engaging managers
  • Coaching employees
  • Real listening
  • Sense of integrity

You will have noted the lack of some of these in our fictitious story of John where obviously there were leadership and management issues as well.

Crew engagement hits at the core of professional (hospitality) yachting. 

 Considering it's owners that ultimately foot any extra cost of high turnover. Owners that will have to face any resulting problems and costs of accidents and/or crew issues, and owners and guests that ultimately get the short end of the stick when crew are not engaged. 

Of course the dark horse is that time is always an issue in yachting. There never seems to be enough of it, so looking into whether your crew are engaged or not, and what level they are at can be a problem.

Want To Stay Ahead of The Competition. 

 For a management company that wants to produce world class levels of innovation, productivity and performance and set themselves above the rest and gain new clients, or a captain that wants to insure his/her place as captain aboard, or if you are crew and just want to be engaged then get in touch and find out how you can get engaged, or engage your crew.

 We would love to hear how you engage your crew? Where your level of crew engagement is, and if you are crew, comment on whether you aregaged or not? 


N2 People Skills works with clients on crew issues, performance and crew harmony, charter excellence, operations tune ups, onboard trouble shooting and safety behaviour, leadership and management coaching/training.  To find out more about our work, or to discuss any particular challenges.  

Please get in touch today.  +44 208 1330 855 


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