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Susan M. Heathfield

Deadliest Catch: How to Keep New Employees on Board

By May 30, 2007

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I'm a television fan. I know, I know, before you faint, let me clarify. I hate sit coms, but occasionally watch The Office. I like good dramas, but few of the current crop qualify for me as good or even watchable. I love movies and shows on the Discovery Channel and I watch Antiques Road Show out of curiosity. The expressions on the faces of people who hit the jackpot are priceless.

I am a serious Sci-Fi fan. I hate zombies, Freddies, Jasons, saws, chainsaws, and bloodsuckers but do bring on the Eight Legged Freaks, Godzilla, Harry Potter, Starship Troopers, King Kong, Mission to Mars, and the War of the Worlds type-movies. So, with this caveat leading off today's blog, I'd like to talk with you about the Deadliest Catch.

Billed as the most dangerous job in America, crab fishing in the Bering Strait kicks off each year from Dutch Harbor, Alaska. Last night's show brought home the importance of new employee orientation and training. One of the ships hired a brand new guy to work the crab deck to replace a shipmate called home for a personal emergency. Not all new jobs bring with them the danger inherent in crab fishing, but the crew exhibited some important lessons to learn about training a new employee.

New Employee Orientation and Training Lessons Learned

  • You have to teach the new guy the basics of each job he is expected to perform. Without the basic understanding, he will be unable to make more complicated decisions later when he is not under direct supervision and observation.
  • Try to build on the new guy's life and work experience. This new guy had never fished for crab, but he had fished for salmon for twenty years.
  • The new guy will take longer to perform the simplest task. You need to give him the time or he will never learn. As an example, the new crab boat crew member took three minutes to bait a crab pot. The experienced crew members looked on in frustration knowing they could perform the same task in thirty seconds, but they were smart enough to look on while the new guy learned. Or, he would never learn.
  • Yelling at and belittling a new employee causes him frustration, unhappiness, and a longer learning curve. Gains are made through positive support.
  • You need to allow the new person to stretch their wings and try new and difficult tasks even while still learning the basics. This enables you to assess their competence, capabilities, and commitment; alleviates boredom; and elevates the crew member's self esteem and self confidence.
  • A show of confidence, by the ship captain, establishes the expectation that all crew members will assist the new guy to learn, fit in, and succeed. The confidence of the leader pays big dividends.

More About New Employee Orientation and Training

May 30, 2007 at 4:00 pm
(1) Frank Roche says:

Susan, this is just brilliant. First, I really like Deadliest Catch. And second, it’s really a compressed and powerful look at motivation and OJT. If it’s done right, the business makes money, if not, people can lose their loves.

I was totally jazzed when I saw the teaser in RSS….really liked what I read when I clicked over. Nice work!

July 15, 2007 at 12:36 pm
(2) Trblcmn says:

Great for everyday life but not a “reality” for the fisherman, unfortunately.


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