Is Your Workplace a Floundering Cruise Ship?

Last month one of my friends commented on how Lance Armstrong should be grateful the Manti Te’o story broke, and Manti should be happy that Lance went to see Oprah. Why? Because when you can’t avoid the attention of the media, nothing beats a good distraction. So the audience gets split.

Corporate reputations are kind of like that, and on a smaller scale, specific workplaces. We know about some Best Places To Work, and we also get stories of employers who keep spare workers on hand in case the assigned workers can’t handle the heat.

I watched the Carnival Cruise Lines CEO in a news conference as he publicly apologized to the unfortunate passengers of the ship Triumph. The ship suffered a crippling mechanical failure over the weekend, and is being tugged to Mobile, AL. Conditions have been described as terrible, unsanitary, hellish, and in the spin of the Carnival crisis team –  “challenging”. They are hoping for just about any other story to break right now. Even Banana Joe isn’t helping them avoid the spotlight.

It got me thinking about how in recruiting we do our best to hire some great talent, and wonder if we can consistently live up to the promises we make, or at least imply. When changing jobs, there is a certain amount of due diligence a candidate can do before accepting. They can check out or similar sites to wee what actual employees have reported. They can search their networks to find someone with actual experience with that employer and ask the tough questions. They should do their homework before the climb aboard. But we should be prepared to back up our commitments to new employees.

I am pretty sure that as passengers boarded the Triumph last week they were expecting an out-of-the-ordinary experience. Sun, ocean, interesting ports, good food, away from the stress of the day-to-day. But something went wrong. Fortunately, it was not a major crisis. Lives do not appear to be in danger, and eventually everyone should return home safe and sound. Only time will tell, if the right kind of investigations are done, what steps might have prevented the failure and if there is a way to avoid something similar in the future. But even the most thoroughly planned and executed technical designs cannot be done in a way that protects against every possible failure. Carnival will give people money back, and offer them credits for a future cruise, but that will not erase the memory of those who lived it, and it won’t do much for those who are thinking about cruising anytime soon.

Unlike the cruise ship, our employees can get out whenever they want. Employment-at-will is a two-way street. So it might be in your best interest to examine the nature of your vessel and its current state of repair.

If your workplace were a ship, what would it be like?


Do you have a good crisis management plan for when the unexpected happens? In the workplace, that may mean the difference between employees staying or leaving.

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