How to fix the Eng / Deck Divide

This is from the book “Why Great Leaders Don’t Take No For an Answer”

[B]In-Groups Versus Out-Groups[/B]

As people work together in the decision process, they have a natural tendency to categorize other members of the groups in which they interact. They classify some people as similar to them (the in-group) and others as quite different, based on a few salient demographic characteristics or professional attributes (the out-group). [B]For instance, an engineer may distinguish those group members with similar functional backgrounds from individuals who have spent their careers working in finance or marketing. In general, people tend to perceive in-group members in a positive light and out-group members in a negative light. These perceptions shape the way that individuals interact with one another.[/B] Highly divisive categorization processes—those circumstances in which people draw sharp distinctions between in-groups and out-groups—can diminish social interaction among group members, impede information flows, and foster interpersonal tensions.

Individuals also appraise other group members in terms of personal attributes such as intelligence, integrity, and conscientiousness. Unfortunately, a person’s self-appraisal often does not match the view that others have. An individual may see himself as highly trustworthy, whereas others have serious doubts about whether he is reliable and dependable. When individuals tend to see themselves in a manner consistent with others’ views and perceptions, groups perform more effectively. If many perceptual disconnects exist within a group, people find it difficult to interact constructively. It becomes difficult to manage disputes and lead deliberations smoothly.[SUP]57[/SUP]

The formation of “in-groups” vs “out-groups” is unavoidable with a big (20 + people) crew.

Common group arrangement aboard ship are
. [Capt / CE] [Mates] [A/E] [unlicensed in various ways]

or, worse

[Capt and Mates] [C/E and A/E] [unlicensed eng / unlicensed deck in var way]

still worse;

[Capt and boatswain] or similar

The trick is to manage how groups form. The one big happy family is not going to happen and is BS anyway because it is actually this:

[Capt] [the rest of the crew in various random forms]

The optimum arrangement is for the top group:

[Capt / C/E / C/M / 1 A/E]

These top four need have a solid understanding of what’s going on aboard the vessel. The crew needs to understand these top four are running the show within the established traditional hierarchy.

The C/M and 1 A/E are one that actually need to “get it done”

With this arrangement the 1 A/E along with the C/E are firmly “in the loop” with regards to ship operations. and that both have direct role (but not the final say) in the decision making process. Likewise Capt and mate should have a good grasp on eng dept workload, technical limitations etc.

a bunch of bloody mumbo jumbo to me. I always say that a master should give the machinery operation fully over to the engineers to operate with autonomy and without interference from above provided all is done per regulations & company policies. The only time a Master needs to get involved is to ensure the previous or if there are problems he needs to know about and become involved in the correction of. Of course, this takes a chief who is willing to maintain open and honest communications with the captain but I have always found that as long as there is mutual respect between all then that generally occurs without problems.

Otherwise, lock the troublemakers in their dungeon and make certain the beatings happen regularly until the greasy untermenschen comply with much bowing and scraping!

Just as long as you remember it’s my boat and you’re just the driver…

[QUOTE=c.captain;132379]… I always say that a master should give the machinery operation fully over to the engineers to operate with autonomy and without interference from above provided all is done per regulations & company policies. The only time a Master needs to get involved is to ensure the previous or if there are problems he needs to know about and become involved in the correction of. Of course, this takes a chief who is willing to maintain open and honest communications with the captain but I have always found that as long as there is mutual respect between all then that generally occurs without problems.[/QUOTE]

Yes, I call that theParallel Play method.

Parallel play is a form of play where children play adjacent to each other, but do not try to influence one another’s behavior. Children usually play alone during parallel play but are interested in what other children are doing. This usually occurs after the first birthday.[1] It usually involves two or more children in the same room that are interested in the same toy, each seeing the toy as their own. The children do not play together, but alongside each other simply because they are in the same room. Parallel play is usually first observed in children aged 2–3.[2] An observer will notice that the children occasionally see what the others are doing and then modify their play accordingly.

I was taught early on by a very good CE that the engineering dept. on a boat is a “Service Industry”. Our primary goal is to make sure everything always works period. Everything outside of that dept. interaction, politics reprimands etc all fall on the CE, everyone under them just needs to worry about doing there job and making sure things are running and problems dealt with in the most timely manner possible. On boats with crews of over 100 and multiple depts. this has worked very well for me. If your dept. kicks ass and keeps the crew happy, respect and open communication as well as a willingness to help out seem to always follow. If people are knowingly doing stupid things and it is communicated via dept. heads it can generally be resolved without any drama. When dept. heads let people under them stir the pot or talk shit about other depts. or the company it always goes down hill.

[QUOTE=TSCOTT;132393]I was taught early on by a very good CE that the engineering dept. on a boat is a “Service Industry”. Our primary goal is to make sure everything always works period. Everything outside of that dept. interaction, politics reprimands etc all fall on the CE, everyone under them just needs to worry about doing there job and making sure things are running and problems dealt with in the most timely manner possible. On boats with crews of over 100 and multiple depts. this has worked very well for me. If your dept. kicks ass and keeps the crew happy, respect and open communication as well as a willingness to help out seem to always follow. If people are knowingly doing stupid things and it is communicated via dept. heads it can generally be resolved without any drama. When dept. heads let people under them stir the pot or talk shit about other depts. or the company it always goes down hill.[/QUOTE]

My approach is based mainly on three things

30+ years of experience at sea. My observation is while good crew dynamics tend to occur naturally with small crews (5 people) while larger crews (20 people) which are divided into departments can easily fall into dysfunctional forms unless actively managed

Secondly - I’ve done a lot of my own reading and research on crew dynamics and have reviewed a lot of material including case studies of both success and failures.

Lastly, the concept of the management team ( I know, it sounds like a buzzword) is company policy and is embedded in the SMS.

I wouldn’t be buying in simply based on any one of the three points above alone.

This team concept does not, in any way, replace or modify the traditional lines of authority or responsibility.

The divide and mentality starts at the top. Its on the management team (Master and C/E) to instill a team mentality. Little things that we take for granted can be done onboard to make people more inclined to work as one instead as divided departments. Things like saying “hello” asking or taking some interest in what the other person/department does, this goes a long way. I have seen simple things like this help even on drilling rigs where the divide can be greater between departments. Small gestures go a long way in developing a good team, a positive attitude and a vessel that all can be proud of.

Generally speaking I find that everything goes just fine until someone says or does something (captain and chief engineer included) that they know damn well they shouldn’t and then any hopes of team work or harmony are right out the window. If everybody kept their traps shut and behaved themselves once in a while there wouldn’t be any deck/engine divide.

[QUOTE=PDCMATE;132474]The divide and mentality starts at the top. Its on the management team (Master and C/E) to instill a team mentality. Little things that we take for granted can be done onboard to make people more inclined to work as one instead as divided departments. Things like saying “hello” asking or taking some interest in what the other person/department does, this goes a long way. I have seen simple things like this help even on drilling rigs where the divide can be greater between departments. Small gestures go a long way in developing a good team, a positive attitude and a vessel that all can be proud of.[/QUOTE]

I agree completely. When I was working on traditional blue water ships there was never much of a divide as we were together for so long it was nice to have different people to talk to. In the oil industry there seemed to be more of a divide but it all depended on the people running things as to how much of a divide. There was and always will be a bit of good natured competition between the deck and engineering department. Now that I work as an independent it is easier to see what makes the difference since I am the proverbial fly on the wall. The drilling contractors evolved from jackups where no marine deck or traditional marine engineering department was required. The management of these companies come largely from the jackup days and they consider the deck and engineering department to be a necessary evil required by the flag state and not needed to produce revenue aka drill a well. This filters down to the people on the drillships, MODUs etc. There are OIMs, Chief Engineers and Drilling Superintendents who are a bit more enlightened that try to make for a more cohesive team but it takes effort. Eventually management’s mindset will change but until then it will be up to the folks on board to decide if they want to work as a team or as tribes. What PDC said is exactly correct, just a simple hello or sitting at the same table for chow can make a major difference. It is up to the people onboard what kind of work environment they have because the people on shore do not really care as long as the client doesn’t complain and the money keeps rolling in.

[QUOTE=Fraqrat;132383]Just as long as you remember it’s my boat and you’re just the driver…[/QUOTE]

We always joke about this but there is an element of truth to it. While the captain is responsible for the vessel overall the C/E is (at least where I work) directly responsible to the owner for the condition of the vessel’s equipment.

So there is a natural tension there. The C/E needs to to be heard but obviously is not going to run the show. But there is also a sweet spot. People that become accustomed to working together at solving minor problems satisfactorily will more easily be able to solve a major problem .

I spent the last 19 years working for 3 captains. All three were handy with a wrench and had a good understanding of what happens in the basement.

The chain of command always trumps everything else, that goes with out saying. Teamwork is a close second though. The attitude of a captain towards other dept.'s on a boat pretty much sets the tone for everyone. If each dept is treated with mutual respect and not as a necessary evil, the machine runs smooth. Other than when I first started sailing I have always worked in a share based compensation system vs a daily rate. I would imagine the success of departmental interaction and cooperation is directly proportional to the stress level of the operation. When single individual’s or department heads have the entire crews pay check riding on there effectiveness in doing there job it takes no small amount of effort to make the “Teamwork” model work.

[QUOTE=Fraqrat;132515]I spent the last 19 years working for 3 captains. All three were handy with a wrench and had a good understanding of what happens in the basement.[/QUOTE]

My worst nightmare is a Captain with a screwdriver in his back pocket.

this thread needs to be changed to "how to fix the Drilling/Maritime Divide!

Everyone on a vessel has a designated job. Do your job and the rest is a no-brainer. What I have seen the last few years is the 3rd, 2nd engineers don’t understand their jobs. I was chief on a small container ship and the second engineer had a fuel purifier down for repairs when I came aboard. I asked the first how long it had been down and it was months. I told the first to ride this guys ass until he fixed the problem. He thought “someone else” would fix it. I told the first he did not have to do the 3rd or 2nds job and if they can’t do their jobs we’ll get new ones who can. My job is get the office to supply the things to get the job done and make sure it does get done. Help your shipmates deck/engine/steward anytime/anywhere.

Say a new green third mate unfairly yells at the oiler running the winches aft on deck during let go. Next day at coffee in the control room the oiler tells his story.

With the 1 A/E in the eng tribe; the First then shares his story about when he called the bridge for a routine matter and the third mate couldn’t understand what 1 A/E wants. Other stories are told Just more examples of what idiots those guys are. Conclusion, third mate is an idiot. Third mate is in the deck dept, . All eng are in agreement, deckies are idiots Having to deal with idiots is something they all have in common. Things spiral downward.

Same scenario, 1 A/E want to break the spiral, he doesn’t tell his story. Instead he tells the C/M, hey, your third is acting like an idiot on the stern and its a problem. C/M asks his AB WTF is going on back there? AB confirms 3 mate confused. C/M un-confuses 3/m. Things do not go downhill.

You missed the part where the captain yells at everybody for being an idiot. Then tells everyone to shut up and go to their corners. He further explains everything will go smoother if he does all the thinking around here. Problem solved til the 3rd mate does something else stupid.

[QUOTE=txwooley;132518]My worst nightmare is a Captain with a screwdriver in his back pocket.[/QUOTE]

No problem Chief, just don’t bitch when I call you at 0330 to change the light in my head.

[QUOTE=mhnydn;132550]No problem Chief, just don’t bitch when I call you at 0330 to change the light in my head.[/QUOTE]

Running water for the coffee and hot water for the showers is a luxury, not a necessity. Its regulated by a ball valve in the engine room at will.

[QUOTE=TSCOTT;132516]The chain of command always trumps everything else, that goes with out saying. Teamwork is a close second though. The attitude of a captain towards other dept.'s on a boat pretty much sets the tone for everyone. If each dept is treated with mutual respect and not as a necessary evil, the machine runs smooth. Other than when I first started sailing I have always worked in a share based compensation system vs a daily rate. I would imagine the success of departmental interaction and cooperation is directly proportional to the stress level of the operation. When single individual’s or department heads have the entire crews pay check riding on there effectiveness in doing there job it takes no small amount of effort to make the “Teamwork” model work.[/QUOTE]

+1

Could not agree more.