Teamwork, a word with 8 ingredients

Campaign: Get to Know Human Factors

“Human factors refer to environmental, organisational and job factors, and human and individual characteristics, which influence behaviour at work in a way which can affect health and safety”.

Lack of Assertiveness, Stress, Lack of Awareness, Norms, Lack of Communication, Complacency, Lack of Leadership, Capability and Fatigue are some of the human related characteristics that can determine the performance of each one of us; these are the aspects which we will be focusing on since they can significantly influence the escalation or mitigation of a critical situation.
The campaign will address skills that are related to the cognitive, social and personal resource skills that complement technical skills, and contribute to safe and efficient task performance.

Aristotelis Ktenas*


The word “Teamwork” reflects the collaborative effort and the collective wisdom of a group of people to accomplish a common goal. The last decades, it used to be a fundamental brick -not only a “term”- in the Shipping Industry. It replaced the (old-school) work-culture which was dominated by the individualism of the ship’s hierarchy (Captains & C/Es’ infallibility). It was a reasonable transition from individualism, which had collapsed, to the real need of working together to succeed.

Even Isaac Newton had the courage to reveal the secret behind his achievements. He said: “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”. However, in 2022, we cannot just stay idle and point out the mere necessity of the term “teamwork”. Nowadays, we shall take steps to further define and apply strategies on how to the goal of using the human talents we have, in a more creative and inclusive collective work.

The goal of improving collaboration can be overwhelming, however, bringing together the roots of teamwork which are respect, heartfelt appreciation, and recognition will lead the way to a happier, more engaged team.


Ingredient 1: Effective Collaboration

While in a team, everyone needs to be even more effective, more productive & more efficient. Time is the most valuable resource, it cannot be bought, saved up or stored and it is impossible to increase. Time is constant and irrevocable. Bad collaboration, and what it indicates and provokes in an organization, can make us to lose time, while the latter will generate real human suffering in the form of anger, lethargy, and cynicism. It impacts people’s self-esteem, their families, and their outlook on life**. On the other hand, better understanding of our colleagues, builds essential soft skills, such as communication, conflict management, project management, problem solving and time management!

Ingredient 2: Team Engagement

In order to have engaging team members, they shall:

  • Feel they have a purposeful work
  • Feel they have an Engaging workplace and
  • Feel they are provided with Feedback about their mistakes and their achievements

Ingredient 3: Setting Common SMART Goals

Common goals should be:

  • Specific, and clearly state the desired results.
  • Measurable in answering “how much.”
  • Attainable, and not too tough or too easy.
  • Relevant to what’s to be achieved.
  • Timely in reflecting deadlines and milestones

Ingredient 4: “Clean” every TASK of the team

  • Mark where it ends (chronologically or teleologically)
  • Clearly define short-term goals
  • Explain the purpose in detail
  • Draw a picture for easier understanding
  • Define a step-by-step plan and make it open to everyone
  • Give every person an assignment in the plan!

Ingredient 5: Team members’ Realistic Assessment

Team members shall be assessed according to each of their individual personalities, for varying degrees of difficulty, and varying situations and circumstances. The Performance Evaluation may benefit everyone:

  • Communicate positive feedback
  • Recognize accomplishments and reward outstanding performance of a member
  • Correct deficiencies and improve performance
  • Clearly communicate expectations
  • Help achieve Team’s goals and mission
  • Develop and motivate other team members

Ingredient 6: Improve the Social Quotient & Emotional Intelligence

Psychological health is important, and it is strongly related to how we adapt to the work environment and whether our lives are satisfying and productive. Developing and maintaining happy employees increases the chances of having a mentally healthy, productive, and happy TEAM. Mental care is not only a social issue, but also nowadays a corporate issue, which – given the prolonged time, and the limited and isolating conditions of the people living on board – can affect everyone. Mental health is directly related to safety in Shipping. Team members should improve their Emotional Intelligence by:

  • Recognizing the emotions of others
  • Having empathy
  • Caring
  • Listening
  • Getting the soft skill in Coaching & Resolving Conflicts

Ingredient 7: Add in a little fun

Developing teamwork and a content community within a vessel’s or an office’s department takes preparation and planning but adding in some fun can make it easier. Gathering up for activities after working hours onboard and outside of the office is another great way to bring a team together. Team bonding is an ongoing process through which, teams grow closer and build trust and ease of communication. Bonding involves increasing loyalty to one another and to the team. One popular way of helping this process is through positive shared experiences in the form of fun activities.

Last ingredient (!): Recognize and avoid Quiet Quitting

Quiet quitting is an application of work, in which seafarers and employees engage in work-related activities solely within the defined planned tasks and there are doing the bare minimum of their duties.

This phenomenon may lead to engaged team members setting reasonable boundaries of their work or even becoming slackers who are willfully underperforming.

These are some of our proposals on how YOUR TEAM could avoid “quite quitting” on the ship OR at the office:

  1. Keep increases in workload short-term
  2. Properly compensate your team
  3. Care about their mental state and be emotionally intelligent
  4. Make stepping up optional & be upfront about role growth
  5. Initiate employee recognition strategies
  6. Support employee wellbeing, on board and ashore!
  7. Encourage the working from home, to assist them achieve a work-life balance.
A company needs everyone’s mindedness.
Teams need everyone’s involvement.
Everyone is necessary and no one is superfluous in a Team.

During a visit to the NASA Space Centre in 1962, President Kennedy noticed a janitor/cleaner carrying a broom. He interrupted his tour, walked over to the man, and said: “Hi, I’m John F. Kennedy, what are you doing?” The janitor responded: “I’m helping put a man on the moon, Mr. President.”

Team spirit is not a purchased meal. It is something you cook.


Thank you!

You can download this article in PDF format here

*Aristotelis is an HSQE SUPERINTENDENT, with twelve (12) years of service, specialized in LPGs, LNGs, FSOs, Tankers & Bulkcarriers. He is an active Marine Auditor (HSQE/ISPS/MLC/TMSA/SIRE2.0) with significant experience as Trainer/Author/Speaker, currently in Dorian LPG.He has obtained an M.Sc. in “Shipping” and a B.Sc. in “International & European Economic Studies” both at University of Piraeus. Certified PC/IT proficient skills by University of Cambridge.
** Patrick Lencioni, Death by Meeting: A Leadership Fable, March 4, 2004
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