Most of us work in teams, I guess it’s the most common work form all over the world. Some like it better than others. Some like to take the lead, some prefer to follow orders and work quietly on their assigned task.
A few weeks ago, I witnessed team work on Pulau Pef. At Raja4Divers, we have 3 transfer boats to bring guests, staff and goods from the closest city Sorong to the island and back. The ride takes between 3 and 4 hours, depending on weather conditions. Parts of it are extremely beautiful, as the boat cruises between tiny islands spread out like gems in the ocean and covered by dense rain forest right down to the water.
The boats need regular maintenance, that’s why there are always just two boats in use and the third one is worked on. That morning, the works on Pef VII were finished and the boat was ready to be floated again. Like with many other things on a remote island, there is no electric crane to use, it’s all manpower and hard work here. Team work. And lots of shouting.
As soon as we heard the loud voices from the dry dock just 200 metres from our office, we walked over there to see what was happening. About 20 of our construction employees as well as our facility manager were standing in the water, trying to push the heavy boat from its dry dock into the water. The back end seemed to be stuck, the vessel wasn’t moving at all. There was a lot of pushing and shouting, some of the men kept counting ‘one, two, three’ - but nothing happened! Sometimes the boat would lean dangerously to one side, threatening to squeeze some of the men between its hull and the wooden structure of the dock.
They didn’t seem to have a plan at all, and as spectators, we had to hold back very hard not to start screaming warnings or directions about how to proceed. But as in all teams, there were some that took the lead and others that followed their orders. And some that shouted. But they all contributed to the best of their ability and in the end, the team succeeded in getting the boat safely into the water.
It was a perfect example of team work to me – a little bit of chaos at the beginning, the men just pushed and didn’t really have a plan. Then, some decided they knew how to do it and took the lead, giving out orders. For a while, there was some discussion about who’s idea was the best, but they came to a consensus and pulled it through. When the first idea didn’t work out, they revised their strategy and the team tagged (or rather pushed) along. They helped each other and took care not to get in each other’s way or hurt anyone. Nobody was trying to get ahead of anybody else, because they knew they had to work together to get the job done.
How about we send some of our well paid mangers from Europe over here to learn about team work from our local staff?
I never even dreamt of working on a remote island in Indonesia, but life has a way of taking care of itself…