The German poet, Goethe, gave us a message : ‘Connect, always Connect’. In our context, this message is more relevant
now, than ever before. The only reason we are still preferred, over other nationalities, is because of our superior
quality of work. However, this will only remain good, if we can work effectively together, as a team, to achieve
much more, than we could ever do alone. A Brazilian proverb puts the idea more succinctly: ‘When I dream alone,
it remains just a dream. But when we dream together, it is the beginning of Reality’.
Organisational excellence is a matter of good team work and synergy. Synergy is created when team members inspire
each other to achieve more, than they could each have accomplished working alone. Synergistic endeavours flow
out of the creative co-operation of all concerned. Note the word ‘Concern’ - when all of us are concerned and
remain concerned, the organisation becomes our Concern ! How do we build team spirit on board a ship or even
ashore? What role do we have to play in it? If we do not act now, we will all lose – we swim or sink together.
The SYNERGY Effect
A team signifies synergy at its best. A sense of purpose and belongingness can drive the crew to work in synergy.
It is only when the combined output is far better, than the sum of its individual parts. Employees, whether working
together on board, or working in a shipping office ashore, must be trained and motivated to work as a team.
A team effort inspires and brings out the best in each of us. Just try to visualise a picture, where, some labourers,
on the road-side, are pushing a heavy object, in a haphazard manner. When do you think the object will start moving?
If they do not push together, they are out of phase with each other, and the net result is, that the object does
not move. Sometimes, you will observe labourers singing a song, when working together. This helps them to coordinate
their efforts, and at the same time raises their morale, so that they create enough momentum, to shift the object.
Most people think, that in any confrontation, in order for one to win, the other person must lose. This ends up as a
Lose-lose situation, since both parties are working against each other. However, when both parties sit down to
discuss the situation logically, and arrive at a compromise, so that both benefit to a certain extent, this is a
Win-Win situation. Obviously, they will not agree on all points. Even then, they will work out a compromise,
where both sides benefit, to some extent. Only then can progress be achieved, in any situation. If one hand
holds a candle, the other can hold a mirror !! Then the light will shine all the more and spread all around
and benefit all.
A football match is a very good example, of team work. Suppose, the ball is with you, at any point of time.
If you continue to move forward single-handedly, with the selfish aim of being the only one to score a goal,
you will eventually be overcome, by the combined efforts of the opposing team.
So you kick the ball, in the direction of one of your team mates, and he, in turn, passes it on to another,
who is in a more favourable position. No matter who actually kicks the ball and scores a goal, all of you
are aiming to win the game, in a coordinated way. To achieve an advantage over the opposing team, you must
utilise the different strengths of each team member, whenever appropriate, to advance the cause of your own
team. In good team work, individual glory is sacrificed for team glory, which, ultimately, proves to be far
more beneficial, to all concerned. In the working atmosphere of a ship too, team efforts reap the maximum
dividends. We must imbibe the Win-Win approach in our relationships with our colleagues in all departments.
The coordinated effort of the team ensures the safety of the vessel, as well as increased productivity for
the company, ensuring the continuance of our jobs at sea.
A proverb puts it well : ‘Success or failure, a low aim is a crime’. If you aim high, you may or may not achieve
it. If you aim low, you will never achieve anything worthwhile. Aims must always be challenging and inspiring.
All of us must have a ‘big dream’ AND work towards achieving it. As they say, you must ‘walk your talk’, otherwise
it just remains wishful thinking. We must continuously improve our individual knowledge and skills, to benefit the
entire team. Self development and professional excellence always go together, hand-in-hand. The team’s aims will
finally translate into reality, through better attitudes and an improved working culture. Abraham Lincoln’s great
words seem relevant here, ‘To succeed, one must keep on keeping on’. In the context of team work, if each one of
us can ‘Keep on Keeping on’, we are bound to excel together.
Effective communication is the core strength of a team. Building a rapport with all team members is the hallmark
of a good team leader. A Team thrives on cohesiveness and motivation. Effective communication is the ‘Be-all and
End-all’ of teamwork. Networking is the latest buzz-word in management circles. In our context, it is the
ability to interact with each and every member of the staff, and is essential for any Master/Chief Engineer,
or indeed, any person in charge, whether he is in command of a ship or a shipping organization. The team must
have a right attitude, of commitment and alignment to the common goal. It is only through effective communication,
that this can easily be achieved. Do not wait for the best idea – start implementing the better ideas, till they
gradually improve to become the best. Aim high ! Nothing but the Best is good enough !! The better the quality,
the longer it lasts, so that good quality is actually getting you better value for money, in the long term.