As the industry is expanding it is changing – just take a look at the variety of topics this magazine has covered over the last few years. In a preview of issue 74, Captain Ian Bone, board chair of the Yacht Captains Association (YCA), looks at what changes are taking place and how the industry is, and should be, responding.

The yachting industry has experienced much change in recent years, and for people who have been in the industry for some time, that change has been provoking. Some welcome the continuous changes while others, with a sense of nostalgia, reflect on the time when the industry was arguably less structured and less complicated. My colleagues often bemoan the current state of the industry and express their preference for the ‘good old days’. Nevertheless, change prevails.

As we progress through the second half of the decade, I believe that yachting will continue to evolve and will become more aligned with the wider social, economic and demographic trends. The view that the yachting industry is somewhat different and separated from others will disappear: yachting is not a special case and must adapt to, and adopt, contemporary business and social practices. Yachting industry practices will likely come under the microscope of the regulators, particularly in matters surrounding employment and how people are treated in the yachting workplace. Don’t be surprised to see various authorities more closely examining recruitment and wider employment-related practices.

Crew interaction

The yachting industry will continue to face serious growing pains, particularly in the area relating to relationships and people management. Today’s concerns about people management generally relate to the manner in which interactions and relationships are handled, while the challenges for those in leadership and supervisory positions is to shift their paradigm of thinking and operating from a technical or mechanistic process to a people-centred approach.

The captains who prioritise service and bring the team together using their leadership skills and capabilities will succeed in the future.

The captains who prioritise service and bring the team together using their leadership skills and capabilities will succeed in the future. Captains obviously require technical skills, and those skills will remain important; however, in the next few years it will emerge that technical skills alone will not be sufficient to get the best jobs. The industry could learn a lot – albeit on a much smaller scale – by looking at both the aviation and cruise-ship industries as models for senior-crew training and leadership development.

Captains will need to demonstrate superior leadership skills and be able to engage and involve the crew in all manner of vessel operations and activities. Those captains who focus solely on technical matters and refuse to involve their crew will be unlikely to succeed in advancing their careers and will be eclipsed by others who have the leadership and people skills. Crew today, and in the future, will not accept the traditional authoritarian approach to management.

Find the full article in issue 74 of The Crew Report - out next week.

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