Performance Evaluations: The Good, The Bad and yes, even The Ugly

Let’s get this out in the open. Everyone hates performance evaluations. The reasons are quite simple. No one likes negative feedback. We all want a decent pay increase. Truth is, performance reviews don’t have to be a dreaded activity.

Although the overriding goal of evaluations is to improve operational efficiency, the solid reasons behind them are as follows:
● Granting the captain a firm basis for proposing salary reviews and training.
● Providing the captain with a private method of redirecting crew who may be going astray.
● Giving crew members a formal structure to raise any issues or future plans.

5 Tips to carrying out evaluations

1. Crew Appraisal form

Prepare an appraisal form with the primary areas for review, these may include
● Work ethic
● Interaction with guests
● Interaction with crew
● Team player
● Sobriety
● Appearance
● Final conclusion (Personal recommendation – bonus, salary raise, rotation, leave, training)

2. Draft an initial review of the candidate prior to the meeting.

Use the ship’s log or charter reports as a memory jogger when writing the draft evaluation. This helps to generate a better picture of the crew member over time. From this you can highlight points to discuss.

3. How to conduct a review when there are issues to resolve

Start by discussing any problems you’ve observed with the crew member’s performance. Address each problem individually, and don’t bring up any new problems until you’ve thoroughly discussed the current one. Use the following framework to discuss each problem:

● Describe the performance problem.
● Reinforce performance standards.
● Develop a plan for improvement.
● Offer your help.
● Alternate negative and positive comments.
● Emphasize potential.

4. Turning a negative into a positive: 3 examples

During the performance meeting, use clear, non-judgmental language that focuses on results and behaviour. Notice the positive and negative aspects of these statements:

● “Your work has been sloppy lately.” (Negative: too vague)
● “The last two times you prepared the dining table for dinner the presentation was not up to standard.” (Positive: cites specifics)

● “You’re obviously not great at preparing sushi.” (Negative: focuses on the person, not on performance)
● “I know you’re capable of producing fantastic French cuisine, but I think we need to plan in some additional training for sushi.” (Positive: reaffirms confidence in employee’s abilities)

● “You didn’t check the chart before taking the boss into the beach. Don’t let it happen again.” (Negative: blanket demands)
● “Standing orders state that the chart should be reviewed before taking a tender away from the vessel. Would additional tender familiarisation help keep this procedures fresh?” (Positive: asks for feedback on improving performance)

5. Closing and Follow-Up

It is very important to end the session positively and clarify any questions or crew members’ comments.
● Agree upon next steps with the crew members, setting positive goals for the future and discussing any potential training that may be needed.
● Review notes and forms and complete documents from the conversation to refer to throughout the year.
● Provide copies of the evaluation for crew members so they can refer to them and follow-up if necessary.
● Consistently refer to goals and standards throughout the year and take notes for future evaluations.