Knock It Off!- Lessons in Leadership from the Deadliest Catch


April 23, 2009

Have you ever watched the show Deadliest Catch on Discovery Channel?  Well, I typically do not, but it is on in my house quite often thanks to a hubby who thinks crab fishermen are fascinating.  This week there was a new episode, the second of this season apparently.  The show chronicles the tough job being a crab fisherman on the Bering Sea.  There’s freezing weather, huge wave swells, and working for days on end with little or no breaks.  The positions are quite lucrative though.dc11

As I watched the intense moments of a crab fisherman’s days and nights, I started to look at it with my HR glasses on.  You take several boats with crews of seven or so of the roughest, toughest men around….well, at least the ones who are not the greenhorns (rookies).  Put those men in a boat with the horrible conditions as they are trying to do a job that is physically exhausting, and the HR issues explode.

Here’s an example.  They show a scene on the boat the Time Bandit, where one fisherman was angry that a fellow crewmate was being lazy.  Fisher-guy #1 was yelling at fisher-guy #2 saying that he was so far ahead of him in his work.  He started screaming at fisher-guy #2 for not taking him seriously and for not working as quickly as he should.  This argument went on several minutes with fisher-guy #2 laughing it off.  Finally, Captain Johnathan Hillstrand  comes over the loud speaker and tells them to KNOCK IT OFF.  Plain and simple.  Fight over.  Employees back to work. dc21

Wouldn’t it be nice if more leaders took this approach.  Direct and no-nonsense.  Too often, HR professionals work with managers who know their employees have issues, but they are not willing to address them.  They hide and let it go on.  From dressing inappropriately at work to ethical issues and the rainbow in between, wouldn’t it be refreshing to have a manager who addressed issues head on.  Every time.  Maybe when people are promoted to manager we should give them each a loud speaker.

So, who’s with me for telling people like it is?


  • I am 100% on your side for telling it like it is. I want people to tell me point blank if they think there are ways that I can change/improve/grow, because that’s the only way I can make those changes necessary to become successful.

    Too many times people avoid the issue because they are afraid of the reaction and push back. Most times, after the initial “OMG” moment of getting the feedback, most people then want to know more.

    I have always found that I have the most respect for those in my life who have been able to give me direct honest feedback and I try to give honest and direct feedback and be an advocate of giving direct and honest feedback. I spend a large part of my time walking through difficult conversations with people so that they can have those conversations.

  • Puf’s with you on telling it like it is. I understand your husbands fascination with DC, it is a fantastic show, and above all makes me greatful that my office is not on the Bearing Sea!

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About Trish

A former HR executive and HCM product leader with over 20 years of experience.


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