Staying Afloat

 When the skipper of the Hoegh Osaka left port for a routine trip transporting cars he doubtless felt confident that this was a journey just like all the others. Sure, he would be keeping an eye out for stormy weather; watching the radar to make sure he could avoid other vessels, and he doubtless had a destination in mind and a chart and compass to make sure he stayed on course.

So how did he feel when his ship started to list, and he was obliged to ground it to avoid it capsizing completely?

How are the ship’s owners coping with their vessel having become a tourist attraction instead of a means of doing business?

Your business may not be shipping. Your organisation may not have to be as aware of weather and tide as a ship’s captain, but that doesn’t mean that you should sit back and imagine that you are immune to unseen dangers or developments.

Every business needs to have a firm idea of where it is going, and how best to get there, but it would be short-sighted indeed to imagine that just because you did something yesterday and the day before that it’ll work today and tomorrow too.

We all have to be alert to the pressures and external forces that can influence our businesses or the markets in which we trade, and we should all have processes and protocols in place to cope with sudden shifts in the climate of those markets.

The ship’s captain has a crew of specialists to help him, and so does the business owner or manager. However, many businesses fail to recognise the expertise of their staff, and treat each department or even every individual as somehow separate and distinct from the others. Communication is stagnant, and warning signals spotted by one team are ignored by another.

A corporate culture based on strong communication vertically and horizontally throughout the organisation, coupled with an open and clearly defined coaching mentality, in which people’s views, thoughts, opinions and worries are listened to, taken seriously and addressed is one way to ensure that not only are your specialists more likely to feel able to work together effectively, but also that they feel valued and respected – regardless of their place in the hierarchy – and will therefore feel more able and willing to participate in making sure that it’s not your ship that runs aground when circumstances offer up something unforeseen.

You can quickly evaluate your ship’s readiness for a coaching culture by visiting and completing the Embark questionnaire.


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