When In Poland do the Polka

This year I have resumed my worldly responsibilities and therefore I am writing from my flight returning from Poland.  This was my first international trip in more than 8 months.  As a slight refresher about my career,  I am the head of global recruiting for my company which requires at times, some travel.  After my mini trip to Florida, reported to you from my last blog,  it was time for me to GO BIG OR GO HOME.

In the past,  traveling was not a problem as Robin managed all the home and Isabelle stuff so I had the flexibility not worry too much.  Now that he is not here, a little more planning needed to take place.  Thank goodness for my mother-in-law who graciously stepped in, Lisa who walks and feeds the dogs as well as Isabelle picking up the slack. So in the few weeks prior to the trip, I tried to strategically think about all the tasks to be completed.  Get ahead of laundry (not successful), buy dog treats and medicine, write checks for cleaning people, pay bills, update emergency information (hopefully not needed), grocery shop blah blah blah…  To summarize, GOODBYE spontaneity but HELLO… feeling like everything was in order before the trip.

I went to Poland for a Human Resources Leadership Meeting.  It was nice to reconnect with my colleagues that I had worked with for years as well as those recently hired.  Since we were a fairly new team together, we had to re-calibrate and align on priorities, operating structure and vision.  All the stuff you would expect in an important management meeting… ha ha. However, the one difference for me was that I was joining with a new view on work.  I guess when a major tragedy happens in your life,  you don’t get so caught up on the little things that used to send you over the edge before. In the past, I would debate minutia, carry on about matters that were just not that critical.  With my new grounded attitude, I was well framed for a productive meeting.

In an effort to build relationships, a group exercise was planned involving a mystery tour of Krakow.  We broke into two teams on an unusually cold and windy night (and Risa decided not to pack a coat).  Let’s take a short break here for some whining… I was freezing, lost feeling in my fingers and suffered from a throbbing ear ache. OK back to the team building exercise, our mission was to solve a pretend crime which involved the theft of royal dishes from the castle, a kind of who done it mystery… so intriguing!!  We had to meet with 5 characters across the route, perform fun little tasks for clues.  So we found ourselves in fake sword fights, reenacting plays, solving riddles and of course dancing several traditional polish dances (which seemed to go on forever because the timing was off with the other group).  At the end of it,  we had a cranky and cold team wanting to go to dinner and get warm.  If you were curious who stole the dishes,  it was the cook (which I guessed) but went with the team’s answer of the scribe – peer pressure 😦 Our team received a 2nd place certificate in a 2 team race.  Nice job 🙂

On the last day of the meeting, we worked with culture and simplicity consultants who provided tools and techniques to help us improve our leadership. Culture is basically a set of norms, values and behaviors of an organization.  It is fancy terms for your corporate personality… like do you have a bunch of a-holes who don’t play nice together or is your business collaborative and value teamwork and innovation? Needless to say,  it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that having an organization with a positive, results oriented mindset tends to win and dysfunction tends to lose. We spent the day trying to shape our culture and removing useless work out of the HR function.

It had been a very smooth trip until the last day when it was time to travel home. The first sign that there maybe a few issues occurred when I was flagged to receive a super thorough body check from airport security. I guess I was a safety threat as she felt every cavity of my body – back and front. Last time I got that kind of action was about 8 months ago – wink wink. We boarded our 6 a.m. flight and were ready to take off to Amsterdam. Then the engines turned off and a very handsome and charismatic pilot (and I joke not) informed us that the fog was heavy and we had to wait for the appropriate amount of visibility.  Two hours later (after minor flirtation that I may or may not admit), we began the flight which ultimately resulted in me missing my connection to the US.  After a ton of stress, multiple calls to the travel agent, dying battery on the phone and running through the airport, I was able to just make a 1:00 p.m. flight. It was a big score for me as I only lost about 3 hours of travel time.  I wonder what my simplicity consultant would have said about this day?  All and all, a great trip was finished with the obligatory assigned reading and follow up items for me to complete.  That is the price you pay when you attend a fancy meeting in Poland. 

P.S.  Although wordy,  I tried to simplify this blog to practice my new skills… still an amateur obviously – but funny can’t be compromised!!

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