An interview with
Theo Klimp

Within the shipping division there is a constant focus on preventing safety incidents and accidents. The wellbeing and safe working of all our people is very important to everyone and that is why working together on a stronger safety culture is one of our top priorities. Building a stronger safety culture is easier said than done, because safety is not only a matter of providing the appropriate PPEs and implementing the proper procedures. It is about day-to-day behaviour and leadership – both at sea and onshore. Fleet Director Mr. Theo Klimp, heavily involved in this development, explains...

“A stronger safety culture is not about having the PPE, but also actually using them. To follow the procedures not because they are instructed, but because you understand why they are written and why it is sensible to follow them. Together with other valuable aspects like warning each other, asking for help, reporting about risks and unsafe situations, being responsible for your own safety and leading by example, this behaviour is the result of a strong commitment. Not only being committed to your own job, but also to colleagues, clients, values and goals of Royal Wagenborg”, states Theo.

“There is evidence that when people feel committed to each other and the organization, it will have a lot of positive effects. Outcome will include lower accident rates, higher productivity, fewer conflicts, higher quality of work, higher retention and reduced sickness rates. That is why we are convinced that we must move towards committed way of working within Royal
Wagenborg. But, what can we do to increase engaging our people? Engagement is not a kind of a pill you can take. It is something that you give the company in return for acting as a good employer. An employer that gives you the feeling of being valued, appreciated and supported. A two-way-stree
t”, explains Theo.

Theo continues: “We have noticed that there is room for improvement. Because of the tough economic times in combination with a rapid growth of our fleet and crew, we have sometimes lost sight on getting to know each other, being explicit about what we expect from each other and giving support in a professional way. For example, we often prefer to send e-mails to each other instead of making a phonecall. There is still not enough personal contact between office staff and seafarers. We have to work as one team towards the common goals for our company and our clients.”

“I would like to have a discussion about how we can improve our way of working together, so that in the end, our ships are managed best!!”

What does that mean? Besides attention for safety, we have to get more engaged in our way of working, organizing and collaborating together. This does not come overnight and will not be easy. It will be a journey with small steps towards the next development stage of Wagenborg Shipping.

One of the recent movements towards this new approach, is the modified setup of the Officers Meetings. In the past these were meetings where officers of one nationality could hear the latest news and thoughts of our company. This year we changed the concept under the theme ‘Breaking Barriers’. We invited four different nationalities of seafarers and office staff for the two day event. Not watching presentations, but getting to know each other and thinking actively with each other about what the office staff and each individual can do to improve the management of our ships. This resulted in valuable discussions about subjects like safety, fuel consumption, maintenance and education. At the end of the day the participants had the feeling that they are part of Wagenborg and their opinions and inputs do matter. Besides all relevant information to take back to the office, all participants wrote down their own commitment to improve the way of working. Amongst these were many statements showing openness and commitment we aimed for. The whole event was a 
major step in the right direction
”, concludes Theo.