Stomach churning, gut wrenching, heart stopping.
That’s the harsh reality of life as a fisherman around the UK coastline when the forecast is gloomy. But these brave souls have a thing or two to show us about maintaining morale, particularly when they’re in the eye of the storm.
The BBC classic series, Trawlermen follows a number of crews as they work long hours on little sleep in constantly evolving and challenging conditions. Sounds rather like the unsettling times that so many of us are facing today, and the sort of working environment that could leave you feeling a little crabby…
But optimism and positivity are in abundance on board these vessels, as well as an unconditional acceptance of the challenges the teams face. So what can we learn from these fearless fishermen about keeping spirits up when the chips are down? And how can teams keep up morale when they’re steaming through seas of uncertainty?
Our latest infographic explores 7 ways to maintain morale in choppy waters…
How to shore up team morale in rough seas
It’s hard to keep spirits up when times are tough.
But volatile conditions don’t deter the intrepid trawlermen of the North Sea.
Drop anchor and hook into the morale boosting rituals of these tight-knit teams.
Chart a course with a clear target
These crews come together with an extraordinary sense of focus and purpose. Whether they’re hunting 6 tons of crab or 300 boxes of prawns, they know the goal and relentlessly pursue it together.
Watch for the wind
Like farmers watching for the rain, they scan the horizon, anticipating changes that could blow them off course. They plan ahead because, “If you’re not catching a lot, you’re not earning a lot.”
Ride the storm together
Taking the rough with the smooth is part of the job and there’s a determination to keep on going. Perseverance is a key driver when it comes to keeping spirits up, “We’re hunters. We go out and if it doesn’t work, we hunt somewhere else.”
Trust in the skipper
With constantly changing conditions the captain must work with the information at hand and make decisions based on gut feel and experience. The crews have total confidence in their skipper, with a no-blame culture, they don’t dwell on the bad days.
Hook up for moments of togetherness
Mealtimes are moments that matter to these tenacious teams. Whatever the weather, the cook prepares a wholesome meal each day and these precious moments unite the crews as they enjoy downtime together.
Celebrate the successful hauls
Trawling is a constant contrast of calm seas and rough rides, risk and reward. Celebrations are short lived, but the happy hauls are always acknowledged. It’s the momentary smiles, cheers, fist bumps and horn blows that matter most.
Tackle tough times with laughter and play
These crews lark about whenever they can. Laughter boosts morale because it forms social bonds, it’s a potent endorphin releaser and it’s central to relationships. “If we can have a good time while doing a job we like, then that’s it. What more do you want?”
When facing a sea of uncertainty, sail towards the shelter of grit and good humour, care and connection, fortitude and faith.
Pull together, look after your crew, and net those breaks in the clouds.