Many vessels now commonly have many nationalities aboard. This puts an extra strain on communication and understanding of differences.
Apart from the different nationalities, multiculturalism is also evident in the different cultures of the various groups aboard. This means that the various groups may have different ways of seeing and doing things and different ideas about the things aboard that are most important. This might for example involve bridge versus engine room, or the young versus the older crew aboard.
It can be a challenge for the management to ensure that everyone understands what each other means, when everybody must work together. This is especially true when it comes to safety on board.
It is a good investment to make a special effort to ensure that communication is good when there are multicultural crews on board.
It is important to have some knowledge about how different cultures and crew are thinking and what they care about. If you do not have a good understanding of each other's differences it can cause distrust and dissatisfaction on board. If you do not know the specific cultural rules and differences from your's, a gesture might lead to conflict because a crew member with a another cultural background perceives it in a different way than you do.
Talk about it
It is important to be curious about each other and discuss it on board. What advantages and disadvantages can you think of? How can you use the multiculturalism as something positive, so it becomes a a strength for everybody on board?
Maybe each of you contribute with different skills. Maybe someone is able to do something particular because of his or her age, nationality, gender, experience etc.
Take the discussion in order to create a greater awareness of each other. You could start a discussion about issues, that are relevant to everybody on board. What is good seamanship, and what is a good colleague? Make a matching of expectations with each other.
SEAHEALTH har udviklet et ledelsesredskab, der kan understøtte arbejdet med at lede forskellighed og mangfoldighed om bord på skibene. Navnet på den nye publikation er ’Leading Diversity’, og den er udviklet af SEAHEALTH’s psykologer, Mads Schramm og Søren Diederichsen.
A Good Working Life at Sea
In the section on Multicultural crews in A Good Working Life at Sea various seamen report on the challenges arising from having many different cultures aboard. You can also get seamen's views on how to have good relations aboard.
The watchword for good well-being aboard here is to get to know each other well. In the Toolkit, you can read more on how to cross cultural barriers and what can be done to learn more about each other.
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