I wonder if the creator of the TV show Big Brother was ever a yachtie? I mean it’s a very similar concept. A group of strangers from all walks of life are put into a large (floating) mansion & presented with varying team activities (guest trips, safety drills etc.) and friendships & relationships are developed. Unfortunately, similar to that of the show, conflict is bound to arise.
Every season I learn something new about Conflict Resolution. With different girls, come different situations. So here are my tips for dealing with situations in the team! I have learned that you need to deal with situations as soon they pop up, otherwise one bad egg can affect the entire team dynamic.
Don’t discuss the situation to the entire crew, it isn’t their issue and involving more people will only make the situation worse. An old stewardess of mine used to say: not my circus, not my monkey whenever someone would try and involver her in drama. Keep it small & only involve the crew that it direct affects.
Talk to the victim of the bullying or conflict first. Take notes & give them a safe place to talk. Make sure to take notes, keep an open mind & show kindness.
Have a meeting with perpetrator and start by checking in with them. Are they happy onboard? Is anything going on outside of work that you aren’t aware of? Following this, say you have noticed tension and wanted to discuss it further. *Never say… “X came and spoke with me” that just doesn’t help anyone and is really counterproductive.
Create timeline of solving the conflict and discuss with both sides. Facilitate a safe space to discuss the situation with everyone involved present.
If nothing changes, it’s time to involve Captain. At this point, you want to ensure all of your notes are in order so you can present everything to the Captain. In the past I have put stewardess on 2-week reviews and if I haven’t seen a change in attitude, then they are let go. It may sounds harsh but it’s important to always focus on doing what’s best for the team as a whole. Firing someone is NEVER easy, however sometimes it is really the best course of action.
Bring the entire team together and remind them all of the expectations of working onboard. The conflict shouldn’t be brought up, rather focus on team building actives & encourage everyone to maintain their positive attitudes.
I hope this helps you navigate conflicts onboard! It’s never easy as a Chief Stew to deal with these sort of situations. Through a lot of trial and error, I’ve learned to be strong & firm in your word – you know what is best of the team and be confident in your ability to lead the team!