How to ensure that officers drive performance
The challenge is to make sure that decisions and strategic initiatives are understood and adopted by every employee. Leadership, communication and involvement are tools in the process to penetrate all levels and the officers have a key role in this connection.
Strategic decisions must reach the seafarer
Achievement of the business goals is possible only if management and employees steer in the same direction. The tool to secure the concerted course is the strategy. The goals and objectives in the strategy can only be reached if the officers and seafarers on board are prepared and involved in the process of realising them. Strategic objectives are aimed towards organisational growth, and officers and seafarers on board are decisive factors in driving the performance.
The challenge is to make sure that decisions and strategic initiatives will be cascaded down through the entire organisation and are understood and adopted by every employee. These decisions do not only comprise performance in relation to systems and procedures, but more and more managers acknowledge the fact that influencing culture and attitude is the way forward. Leadership, communication and involvement are tools in the process to penetrate all levels.
What drives performance?
Management must first understand what drives performance and what the core attitudes of high performance are. Many employers focus on the formal process for managing employee performance, the so-called direct performance enablers, being the available resources, information, equipment, systems, etc. However, the indirect enablers have a significant importance for the employee performance. When employees are performing beyond expectation they have a personal interest in what they do. They clearly see the purpose of their work, believe in it and see the higher meaning of it. In other words it is the way people commit towards their job, teams, managers, and organisation. (Read more in eMagazine, September 2010 – Managing for High performance).
So, what does it take to create the link between the strategic decisions and the commitment and performance improvement of the individual officer and seafarer?
Prepare and organise a good and effective process
The primary exercise is to translate the corporate goals into team and employee objectives by finding the core focus areas relating to each department. Once the goals are expressed through KPIs it is by far easier to demonstrate that they are business critical and to create awareness of crucial focus areas. The people responsible for improving performance measured against KPIs must be involved in the process of planning the actions and measures for this purpose. But who are these people – the performance improvement drivers? Indeed the officers play an important role here. By involving them they will understand this role and take ownership of the process and they will be able to motivate their staff who shall bring them all to the final destination.
As an example the company objectives could be to reduce the LTIF, to reduce the number of vetting observations or to improve the rest hour compliance. To gain a positive impact on the LTIF results or other KPIs some of the important elements will be to:
- Involve the officers in the process of being an active and focused team player in the efforts to achieve the mentioned business goals and KPIs
- Discuss company attitudes towards safety, operations and quality of work in general
- Link safety and quality attitudes to the company values
- Highlight the officers’ role to be the gate keeper of the company values (Reflected in the safety and quality attitudes)
- Improve attitudes and step up performance
- Discuss and define how to improve the overall vetting and safety performance
The role of the officers
The officer seminar is an excellent forum for communication and dialogue with the officers. Here the company has the opportunity to effectively address a group of performance drivers by preparing interactive development seminars that can involve the participants in the process of raising the company’s performance bar.
The participants shall refresh their understanding of roles and responsibilities and understand that the ‘bar has been raised’. They should be invited to express and specify ideas, processes, attitudes, ‘ways of doing’ and best practice examples that – if embedded in the whole organisation – can help the organisation achieve their performance goals. It is essential to apply an appreciating dialogue and process approach. This approach is recognised to effectively fuel employee engagement and commitment
To push the process forward the seminar facilitators and speakers must make use of real life cases, presentations of specific and important subjects, leadership and safety tools etc. These ‘company stories’ shall ensure participant and company relevance.