|Good Owner, Bad Owner|
Part 3: “My owner’s attitude is, `If it’s broken, why didn’t you fix it?’”
By Kim Kavin — August 2003
Some owners see such gifts as unnecessary perks, but to the crew, one gesture of appreciation is worth a thousand greenbacks. “That was worth more to me than any money,” Simcox says. “When somebody takes the time and thought to say, ‘What would mean a lot to this person’ that really means something.”
Beyond respect and appreciation is trust. This can be difficult to develop—especially if you’ve suffered with crew who siphoned money or ruined property—but it’s necessary. Good crew need to know you trust their financial decisions and abilities. When crew feel they can be left alone to do their jobs well, they usually do just that.
“My owner’s attitude is, ‘If it’s broken, why didn’t you fix it?’” Young says. “If you have to call the office for every $200 or $500 you have to spend, the owner’s going to get aggravated because you’re going to be calling him a lot.”
Simcox says a big problem is owners who lack trust in the crew’s processes. “I can’t imagine that in a large corporation, the boss would micromanage everyone in the building,” he says. “When you start questioning the person, you’re questioning whether they’re capable.” Crew have checklists, steps they follow to find solutions. Simcox cites an example of an engineer trying to figure out why the heads weren’t working. Imagine the engineer, sweltering in the machinery space, methodically checking hoses and pumps when the owner strolls in and says, “Did you think of this? And did you think to check this?” The approach can leave the engineer feeling the owner lacks confidence in him.
In the end, keeping good crew is really about treating them the way you would like a boss to treat you. “Keep it friendly, keep it fun, but you’re still the boss,” the longtime owner says. “You can’t sit back and expect it to work. You have to put yourself into it, understand what kind of people they are and their needs.”
And by all means, don’t ask crew to do things you wouldn’t feel comfortable doing. If, for example, you wouldn’t find it particularly appealing to pass out Viagra to multiple couples in a darkened saloon, don’t ask your employees to do it.
That captain, by the way, has long since moved on to another megayacht where he hopes to serve out his career. The owner bought the boat, in part, because the crew cabins are sized to allow for humans to move about comfortably (no good worker will be happy sleeping in a coffin-size berth and sharing a head with six others). On this particular boat, the crew quarters are even finished to the same standard as the guest accommodations, in deference to the owner’s belief that crew are not second-class citizens.
This article originally appeared in the July 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.