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What Would You Do if Your Crew Quit?

Last month on my once-in-a-lifetime holiday the crew quit!

Why does that matter? Because as leaders we must understand the impact of our actions on our team, on our customers and on our brand promise.

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Last week while on vacation sailing Croatia in the Adriatic Sea, the crew announced (2-days in) that they were going to quit. Their reasoning…After weeks of trying to make it work with their Captain of this 100-foot vessel, the chef and deck hands decided that life was too short to put up with undesirable treatment and behaviour and that they would indeed be quitting.

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This was a vacation that we had been planning for 10 years to celebrate our 50th birthday(s). My very best friends and I had planned every detail to celebrate our 40-year friendship. We had t-shirts designed, necklaces commissioned and most of all, we had massive expectations for sailing fun. How could the crew quit? We loved them already. They became the trip for us. After only 2 days they made it so special, but they couldn’t stand the Captain.

Some may say that it was unprofessional that the staff even told us that they wanted to quit, but this is a perfect example of what can happen when a team isn’t happy. It can spill into the customer base. When staff are treated unkindly, are not valued and are therefore unhappy they can do all sorts of things that can affect our business. We get so wrapped up in our problems that we forget that they have a choice in where they choose to spend their working days. We take them for granted.

Mirko makes us sea bass in salted crust.

Now what’s the captain to do? It’s mid-summer, a full schedule booked back-to-back with guests with high expectations. Without his chef, deck hands and waiters, there is no way he can maneuver this ship by himself, let alone take care of the paying customers that had been made huge promises. Even if he could find new crew now, they would be those already picked over and untrained for a summer of busy cruising.

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What a great lesson for those of us that have staff and teams that we need to help bring our visions to the world. They are people first. They owe us nothing. They are there to earn a living. And if they are unhappy they can leave. This particular staff made our holiday. They were so gracious and so willing to please…anything we wanted they took care of, they cooked for us and provisioned for us. They made the holiday special for us. If they had left our experience would have been less than.

So let us think twice before we come down heavy handed, are rude, egotistical and disrespectful. Good people will always find work. Good people are hard to find and keep hold of. Isn’t it worth it to work on management skills, people skills, human being skills? I think so.

And thankfully for me – this crew stayed. The captain realized the situation and did what he could to make it better and listened to the crew. He was lucky that day.

Are you listening to your crew? Can you afford to have your crew quit? Good questions for us all to think about this summer.

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