Last updated on September 2, 2020
I told you in my previous post (First Impression) that I will write a little something about what I do now. It will be complex to explain everything in one post. But I’ll try 😉
I am a Shipboard HR Manager. Part of the Deck/Marine department, reporting directly to the Captain, I represent all crew onboard the cruise ship, from the dishwasher to the captain. I also represent the company and the fleet by deploying and implementing HR policies and strategies.
If you read my previous posts, you already know that the crew members live and work on the ship 24/7 for many months, affecting their morale, their tolerance… And creating tensions. People can get easily frustrated, upset, when their emotions and feelings are affected by this very specific work environment.
My main mission will be to defuse all these tensions to maintain a safe and productive work environment. The HR Manager is the best ally to the Captain regarding all crew matters. I am his/her eyes, ears and voice. Don’t think I’m a spy. Just realize that a Captain onboard a cruise ship is expected to spend his/her time on the bridge and with the passengers and you will understand that it would be difficult for a Captain to find enough time to spend with thousands of crew members. And the Captain needs to know what is happening around the crew areas. After all, he/she is responsible for all souls onboard.
I will then spend most of my time trying to fix crew members’ issues: about the cabin, the job, the manager, another crew member, the different HR systems, about disciplinary, the rotations, the contracts, etc. (The list is endless, believe me).
I am also here for personal issues. I don’t fix romance relationships of course 😉 but keep in mind that communication with the rest of the world is complex in the middle of the sea. Most of the cruise ships are now equipped with powerful satellite connection but not necessarly offered to the crew. Or it’s very expensive… I am the door to the rest of the world for the crew members and they can always approach when they need to. When a crew member looses a family member for example…
To give you an idea, I am the only HR Officer onboard…. For almost 1400 crew members! I have to deal with plenty of issues!!!
My second main task and, obviously, the nice part 😉
Not all crew members are here just to put money on a bank account or to travel around the world. Some people choose to work on a ship to make a career. They want to grow. To get more responsabilities. More money as well. To break their routine. To learn.
I am their first point of contact when they want to start the next step.
I conduct interviews, deliver coaching sessions and organize cross-training between departments.
I also deliver Orientation training for all newcomers, Harassment training and specific training for crew members and supervisors about the maritime regulations.
As a Manager, I also have to….Manage! 😉
I have to manage a Learning & Development Manager, a Crew Activities Coordinator and, time to time when they board the ship, the Fleet Trainers.
The HR team, most of the time, consists on Experts. All have standalone jobs. The management will be then different from a more…..”classic” team. I mean: they know what they have to do every day (usually…!) and don’t need a daily supervision. My role as a manager with this team is not to be a teacher but a guide.
Like all managers in this world, we have different expectations and we put in place different strategies. I need to provide this guidance so my reports can reach the team objectives.
I also like to challenge them. As I said, in HR, we have standalone positions. So we can start a routine and get bored. I like to create, to bring challenges, to break our daily routine, to put the team in trouble, to get them out of their comfort zone 😉
Of course, I am always close to them to face all difficulties. This is the deal!
Business Partnering & Strategy
Directly linked to the Employee Relations mission, I also build strong relationships with the managers. I partner to support their activity and to create HR strategies. I help the managers to understand their team, the needs and expectations from the crew members. I also detect the root causes of any issue and assist them to eradicate the negative trends and empower the positive and constructive trends.
Well…. I keep repeating that I work in a very specific environment so…. I have specific duties.
Safety is part of my routine. All crew onboard have assigned duties in case of an emergency.
And as we always need to be prepared, this is also part of my duties to exercise, to make sure my team is prepared for their duties and to train the crew members who can replace me in case I can’t fulfill my own duties.
In my current role, I am part of the Command Team and I am a Communication Officer. I report to the Crisis Operations Center everything that is happening during an emergency. So the Head Office is aware of the efforts we make to control the emergency and can liaise with the Coast Guards if we need assistance.
I create challenges for my team, but what can I do to break my own routine?! Let’s get involved in a few projects! HR projects, Fleet projects, Company projects, etc. Environment, processes, procedures, safety. Anything that brings change!
Unfortunately, I can’t spend too much time on it….. Simply because my other missions take all my time.
Finally, as all employees in all organisations in this world, I am also here to represent my company’s values. The cruise industry mainly focuses on the guests so I also participate in the ships’ events such as cocktails, lunches, activities with the passengers.
I tried to summarize my average 10-12 hours/day! Hope you get a quick understanding of my position 😉
If you want a different perspective, from the company point of view, Cunard made a nice quick page on the HR Manager position.