All aboard for culture

Another day, another episode in the soap opera that is James Packer’s life. This morning the Daily Telegraph ran a story about claims from a former crew member of Packer’s luxury yacht Arctic P that he has been sacked for being “annoying”.

Canadian Nicholas Sangineto claims he travelled from Quebec to Auckland last month to work for the skipper of the Arctic P, skipper Russell Pugh, as an electronics and IT analyst.

But things did not go well.

“They flew me out but after a few days on-board I was told that my services were no longer required because the crew did not like me and I wasn’t fitting in,” he told the Telegraph.

But he’s not going down without a bit of a fight and he’s decided to “lift the lid on the secret world of the Packer super yacht” by leaking the two-page list of guidelines that are given to new crew members when they come on-board.

The “shock” revelations include:

  • Crew members are not allowed to smoke or take recreational drugs.
  • Packer guards his privacy. “The Boss is extremely private – the movement and operation of the yacht should not be discussed with anyone… if this concerns you in any way or you are inclined to gossip, do not join,” the Tele quotes the guidelines as saying.
  • Crew members who act “negatively” or “complain” can be dismissed.
  • Team work is valued. “Anyone having ‘that’s not my job’ type attitude is asked to leave, making way for someone having a team approach.”

It’s not exactly brutal stuff, is it? Banning staff from smoking or taking drugs while on the job is standard practice at most workplaces, and one can hardly blame Packer for wanting to guard his privacy and asking staff to do the same.

Now, the idea of being dismissed for complaining sounds pretty harsh, but I would point out that things are probably a bit different on board a ship, where chains of command are taken a bit more seriously than in an office.

As for the team-player directive, well that sounds like entrepreneurs would love to write on their walls, in big, red letters.

Now, it’s impossible to know the precise circumstances of Sangineto’s dismissal, but you would have to say Packer has done the right thing by ensuring that the culture he wants to create on-board his boat is clearly articulated to new staff. No disgruntled staff member can say that they weren’t warned of what their employer expects.

While entrepreneurs might not agree with the contents of Packer’s staff guidelines, few would argue with Packer on the importance of setting and guarding a workplace culture.

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