I was just on a family vacation in Spain, and our last destination was the Mediterranean-touching, sun-drenched metropolis of Barcelona. It was a beautiful sight to behold, even though the sun hid from view throughout our stay, and it snowed. Not just a few flurries, but a bona fide good old-fashioned snow storm. As I shivered my way through the Boqueria, the famous outside food market, I silently cursed my ill-fated decision to pack sandals for the trip, and only sandals. I was indeed awed by the rows and rows of fresh fruit, vegetables, cheeses, nuts, herbs, candy, and just about any other type of food one can imagine, though I must admit my chattering teeth distracted me somewhat from the experience.
It wasn’t just me. Even the natives seemed out of sorts. Many carried umbrellas to protect themselves from the storm (and we Ohioans know umbrellas don’t really do any good in a snow storm). The buses shut down for the afternoon, as did the underground metro system. The city was decidedly unprepared for the sudden turn in the weather. (As it turns out, the storm was short-lived, and the sun was shining brightly as we boarded our plane to come home).
I take two points from my chilly Barcelona experience. They are equally apt when discussing trans-Atlantic traveling or managing employee relations in the workplace. First, be prepared. At a minimum, travelers should review the physical landscape before they leave (i.e., check the weather carefully). Similarly, HR professionals should understand the legal landscape in which they are operating, including staying up-to-date on recent legislative changes at the local, state and national level. Second, be adaptable to change. Travelers must have a go-with-the-flow mindset to best enhance their experiences abroad. So too with HR professionals in the workplace. Things come up, often quite unexpectedly, especially when you are dealing with something as tenuous as employee relations. Be flexible in your approach to handling workplace issues. Going with the flow does not always come easy to those of us who fit the “Type A” mold, but cultivating that ability can be priceless.