First round of introductions on board Sisi

Blog Post #2: First impressions and all the information you can gather if you know what to look out for!

A first round of introductions with new team members provides a lot of valuable information. In this article you will learn from our first meeting how it went on board Sisi and how you can get the most out of such a meeting!

Jan 5th 2022, 11.00 am: Boatcall in the Marina Puerto Calero

Of course I was way too early. Being late would have stressed me out, so nothing could keep me in the hotel room. I finally wanted to get on board and get to know the other team members. I also wanted to know where and how I could stow my luggage, what I might have to prepare for and, above all, how the mood was in general. Thoughts circled in my head: Will I fit into the group? Am I accepted? Will there be team members who don't really suit me? What will my place be? Overall, I observed an insecurity in me that I hadn't felt for a long time. That's why I was here!

Excited waiting before the round of introductions
Minutes before first contact with the team: feels insecure!

Gerwin - our skipper - took over the moderation in a calm, friendly and determined manner

"Welcome aboard! I would like to know if everyone has ever sailed across the Atlantic and what their expectations are. Then I can tell you afterwards whether the expectations are justified and which ones we cannot meet.” Now you could hear from this sentence what had to be done – period. But there was much more information to collect:

Although only relatively few words were spoken, I had already gained first impressions. It reassured me that someone had taken the lead so clearly because it gave me security. I had also received clear instructions as to what was expected of me. Specifically, I should set out my experience and share expectations. Gradually, everyone brought in their contributions and I made an effort not only to pay attention to what was said, but to grasp the entire breath of information:

"I know I'm always overlooked...."

I processed my impressions and brainstormed how I wanted to approach the first communication with individual members of the crew. My idea was to test and calibrate my first impressions further with the main goal in mind to support team building as well as possible. Then I heard “…wait, wait. We left out someone. Please take a step back.” Gerwin had interrupted a speaker because a crew member had been forgotten. "No problem!" came the voice from someone who was crouching almost invisible in a small niche on the floor, "this happens to me all the time". Now all eyes were on a friendly smiling person on the port side. "And it's no wonder. Most of the time I sit below deck in the dark and look at my data, make calculations and develop scenarios. You will see me mainly when I tell you the direction of travel or warn you about changes in the weather or ships.”

Finally an outlier, I thought to myself. Previously, the requests to speak had been about fun, new experiences and about being competitive. Here I heard someone pulling the strings in detail, in the background, with many calculated scenarios in their heads.

There were other examples of crew members who stood out from the rest. For example because they addressed feelings, the well-being of the group, caring. Or also because they were very short and almost keyword-like in their feedback.

But what connected us all, what we all wanted and why we were here was the regatta across the Atlantic. Yes, we wanted to arrive safely. That was top priority. But we also wanted to win, we wanted to have fun, we wanted to compete and we wanted to learn. Today we were still a group of people. But soon we should become a team. You can read about how this happened in the next few posts. Stay tuned.....


The first meeting of a new team is of fundamental importance. People like to talk about first impressions. But I don't want to overrate that. From my point of view it is the beginning of a process. If a manager knows how to actively shape this phase of team building, uncertainties can be quickly eliminated. There are first positionings and the team can start to grow together. Not leading is impossible. Team dynamics take place whether you consciously design them or not. As a manager, you should fulfill your task of positively influencing these first steps and thus quickly building up a viable team.

Practical tools are the first meetings with rounds of introductions. Questions about experience, goals, expectations are perfect. Team members quickly connect with each other because of similarities or commong themes or topics, expressed on the one hand through common goals, values or activities. Shared hurdles, or weaknesses, make us human and vulnerable. Therefore, activities in which (funny) stories of mistakes, uncertainties or omissions are told are suitable for team building. But of course experiences as a group also strengthen cohesion, understanding and trust. 

In the text, I have used examples to illustrate the wealth of information that needs to be processed. The more practiced you are, the easier it is and the more you can get out of such interactions. There are numerous tools that allow these analyzes to be made. I use HBDI because I find it very useful and I'm very familiar with it. I have summarized more about the tool here.

Finally, a sentence about my approach: I am an analytical and logically structured person. So I proceeded as described above. If someone has other thinking preferences, then perhaps the focus will be more on emotion, or the question: “Who can I win with here?”. I just want to say that I also followed my preferences. I also made a very conscious decision to do so. This is how I create room for maneuver. In this case, not as a manager, but as a team member.