The importance of assessing existing levels of knowledge and competence

Ok so after all the training and exams I embarked on a sailing adventure for 5 days in Croatia with 6 long-standing male friends. I am pleased to report we remain firm friends, all survived and the only injury was to Kevin and his “hurty finger” and we plan to do it again. So, a complete success?

Perhaps not a complete success. I should perhaps mention that the sailing experience of the 6 “crew” was extremely limited and this caught me off-guard. I perhaps foolishly assumed a certain minimum base level of competence and knowledge and in some cases, this was a huge over-estimate! As a result, on day 1 & 2 there was a deal more emotion than I would have preferred and not a lot of good sailing outcomes! In other words, I shouted at them a lot for getting what I thought was the most basic stuff wrong.

Aside from the obvious need to polish my emotional intelligence and leadership skills, my learning was that it was my responsibility to sense check the existing levels of knowledge and competence of the crew, before we departed. Had I done so I would have understood that some crew members needed far more support than others and I could have organised tasks according to actual competence. Alas, hindsight is an exact science and next time I will have individual conversations and perhaps some practical assessment of actual knowledge before we depart.

It doesn’t surprise me therefore that firms that don’t have Nelly to baseline individual competence end up delivering sub-optimal business and customer outcomes, in much the same way I ended up meandering across the Adriatic when we should have been making waves.