Green-Jakobsen has worked with Seatrans for many years regarding the development of a leadership programme including leadership training and development of a performance appraisal concept to drive leadership and accountability in the company. These concepts have been applied in Seatrans for more than six years now.
To find the best way of continuing this collaboration Seatrans had called for a workshop with Green-Jakobsen to define the coming activities. We interviewed Erik Mohn, Head of Crewing and HR at Seatrans, after the workshop:
One thing we learned in Seatrans from the previous programme is never to underestimate the importance of involving the guys at sea – also in the preparation phase. We were able to bring in five masters who could contribute with their experiences at sea as they are working on a daily basis with various groups of seafarers. We are aware of the importance to get their view on things, also taking into consideration that they have been using the current version of the leadership and appraisal tools, so they know the history and they also know what works on board. This certainly benefits the whole process.
Another thing is we make sure that the adaptation will go well. It gives credibility to involve the seniors at sea. Besides, we wish to ensure that we use a language that is easily understood by the seafarers – something that is often overlooked. On the shore side, we – and especially staff with outstanding academic background, tend to speak and write in a somewhat complicated way. A master will most probably comprehend it, but the ratings, whose mother tongue is not English, can easily be the ‘victims’ of academic talk. It’s very useful to have that in mind from the beginning.
The seafarers who were at the workshop had been involved in the previous programme, but only as users. When we prepared the previous project, we didn’t emphasise enough to bring in the masters and seniors to the table, as we only did it as a desk exercise.
I am absolutely certain that the senior officers took the advantage of being present and expressing their opinions. I think we have a very open and involving culture in our company which dates from way back, so this process only emphasizes the wish we have to involve everyone in the processes. They are used to being heard and truly involved.
The focus of the workshop was on the renewal of the Seatrans performance appraisal template and process, and therefore to discuss:
- A revision of the crew performance appraisal
- An upgrade of the leadership training
- A revision of the top2 performance evaluation
An essential part of the workshop was to discuss what worked well in the present process and system and also what had been the most challenging issues. To support this process an online survey with 5 questions had been sent to a representative group of officers and key office staff prior to the workshop.
Besides, a project group of 12 persons had been formed consisting of Top 2 leaders and office staff from Norway, Poland and Romania.
Input from the group work discussions and break-out sessions will be the key component in the design of the next generation of Seatrans’ leadership development and performance appraisal concept, hereunder the design of new criteria, a new rating scale and an expanded process on board.
This workshop was held because it was time to run a leadership programme again. We have an extremely good retention rate for our seniors, so a new leadership programme is not required on a frequent basis. Of course, every senior officer has been part of the programme and the courses. Only a few new guys are coming in who have not been part of the first series of courses and initiatives. However, it has been five years since we rolled out the first programme, and it’s time to refresh our skills as there have been new developments and changes.
Moreover, the appraisal system is closely related to the leadership programme. We will look at improving our appraisal system, including our values and integrate it closely in the entire leadership programme. We are very much concerned about taking care of the good potentials and develop the officers in the best possible way, facilitating continuous growth and development by giving them good and clear guidelines. On a ship sailing in a very hectic service – and also ashore, for example in my position – it is very easy to go into a day-to-day routine and do the same thing you did yesterday. Although we try to do it a little bit better every day instead, we should sit down and think: how can we really exploit our resources in a better way?
Now that the workshop is carried out it will not be the only occasion for taking advantage of the seafarers’ involvement. We will keep them involved, at least some of them, depending on availability.
Fortunately, our officers are used to talking and discussing whenever we meet at conferences. Our behaviour-based safety training, which we have done with Green-Jakobsen, as well as the previous leadership courses were always organised in a way that they participate actively. Hence, they are used to putting their ideas forward and to pitching in. So, although they have not been used to this kind of workshop as a preparation tool, it didn’t take long before they started talking. They know that they are valued, and their input is heard and that they have a real impact. Very important!
In fact, this goes back to Green-Jakobsen’s philosophy and their way of organising conferences and trainings. You only have these 4-5 people around the table instead of having a classroom with the usual u-form where a speaker is talking and students are just sitting. Everything evolved around participation and involvement and that has proved very useful for us.