5 Steps to Building an Effective Training Program

In the corporate world, studies show that employers tend to place greater emphasis on training new and entry-level employees. The same is true for training crew in the yachting world. No one would argue, however, that training less-experienced crew is not important. In fact, research reveals that training programs at all levels have a significant impact on employees’ morale, productivity and long-term performance.

The Impact of Training

Beyond the obvious safety and legal flag state requirements, I would like to highlight two other important considerations.
Redundancy –Ensuring that more than one crew member can cover a role in the safe manning document means you have backup in the event of accident or illness.
Improvements in morale –Proper training will have a beneficial effect on the morale of your crew. A well- trained crew will take pride in their abilities and thus gain job satisfaction. Training also provides an excellent opportunity for existing crew to add another string to their bow—not only expanding their personal horizons but also increasing the longevity of the crew as a whole.

1. Assess Your Needs

Before you develop a training program, determine whether or not your crew’s skills and interests align with your requirements.
● Your yacht’s overall goals, strengths and weaknesses. These include cruising plans, employee manuals, orientation guides and HR policies.
● Your crew’s roles and responsibilities. Look at crew members’ job descriptions as a basis for the type of training required.
● Your crew’s performance and behaviour on the job. Performance reviews can highlight skill gaps and the need for refresher training.
● Your safe manning and other flag state requirements.

2. List Your Goals

List the things crew members should be able to do after completing the training. For some training programs this will be clear cut—passing a powerboat Lv 2 for example. However, for others you may need additional information. When putting a steward on a humidor cigar course, you may want to ask the owner if there is any particular brand of cigar he is interested in.
● List your goals and make sure trainees understand that this is what they should be aiming for.

3. Training Agreements

A training agreement ensures that the expectations of both parties are clearly defined. Here are some of the many good reasons for generating a training agreement.
● Clear understanding of how and when the training is being paid. Is the boat paying 100% up front or will the crew member be reimbursed after an additional 6 months of service?
● Is travel, accommodation or subsistence paid by the yacht?
● Is the time spent training regarded as holiday or paid.
● Failure: In addition to outlining the training goals, it’s important to state what will happen if they are not met.
● Audit trail. Finally, a training agreement generates a paper trail to track annual training budgets.

4. Evaluate and Disseminate

It’s easy to train your crew, pat yourself on the back and think you’re done. But if you do, you’ll be missing two large pieces of the puzzle.

If your goal is to deliver effective training that changes your crew members’ skills or behaviour on the job—and this SHOULD be your goal—then you need to confirm that the training has been effective. PLUS you’ll also have the chance to spread that knowledge to other members of the team.
● Evaluate. So your junior deckhand got his PB Lv2, but is he competent enough to drive the owner through a rough sea to the Cannes film festival? You need to evaluate the skills learnt to ensure your goals are met.
● Disseminate. Use this recent influx of knowledge in team building and cross-training exercises. For example, you might ask a junior crew member recently certificated in advanced fire fighting to plan and lead the next fire drill.

5. Rewarding High Achievers

When tracking your employees’ progress and input, remember to recognize and reward them for their continued hard work.

Giving credit where credit’s due helps to create an environment that encourages future achievements and motivates crew members to strive for continued professional development, an important factor in the success and effectiveness of employee training.