This month I completed my tenth ocean passage sailing from Long Island Sound to Antigua via Bermuda, a 1,600 mile open ocean passage. I began planning my voyage and preparing our sailboat “Tango” months ago. The first leg of the trip South involved crossing the Gulf Stream — which is like a river in the Atlantic Ocean flowing Northeast from Florida up the East Coast of the United States and then over to Europe. At some places it can run as much as five knots in a Northeast direction. Crossing the “Stream” can be a rough proposition if the wind is against the current. So, once planning was completed and I knew what this trip would entail, I then also knew the profile of the crew I’d need to recruit for this passage.
Months prior to our departure and based on my planning I selected a great crew with significant Blue Water Sailing experience in difficult passages. We left Long Island Sound a few days after Tropical Storm Phillip had roared up the East coast in late October. By the time we were crossing the Stream, the wind had veered to the Northeast against the Stream — about 25 knots gusting as much as 30-35 knots. It was a rough crossing. As Captain, I have many important tasks to do besides steering the boat like weather routing, communicating, navigating, etc. It made me especially glad I had a great crew to back me up in rough seas and that there was no need for me to be lashed to the wheel.
I learned early in my career to always hire overqualified people. Get really great people under you, delegate and then undertake new Business Performance Improvement (BPI) initiatives. When hiring your own management team picture yourself Captaining a small sailboat in a rough ocean. Would your teammates be capable of running your day-to-day operations if you were offline undertaking a new BPI initiative? Would they be accretive or dilutive to you day-to-day operations in your absence? This is an especially important consideration when hiring, organizing and training your team. Are they overqualified? Have they been battle tested? As the saying goes, “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor”. Anyone can fill a role when things are going well. You should hire people that will help you get through rough seas so you’re not lashed to the wheel and prevented from undertaking new BPI initiatives.
We’re available to help you evaluate your team and their organizational roles and responsibilities to keep you from being lashed to the wheel. We also facilitate customized one-day, on-site and entertaining Business Performance Improvement workshops to help management teams to identify and prioritize new BPI initiatives . Feel free to call us to discuss how we could help you.