I spent the first half of my recent vacation in Vienna, Austria. It was my first visit to to Vienna and I found the city to be absolutely enchanting with it deep roots in the arts, jaw-dropping architecture, and irresistible sweets. Being the employment lawyer that I am, though, I can’t resist writing a post about some of the HR lessons one could learn from Vienna.
1. Get out and walk around
I spent hours each day walking around the city. Although I had a list of sites I wanted to visit and things I wanted to do, I found that some of my best experiences occurred more or less by accident. For example, some of the best pictures I took on this trip were taken during unplanned walks.
The concept of “management by walking around” applies in the same way. You can’t know what your employees are doing or what the general feeling is unless you get out of your office and see it for yourself.
2. Don’t forget the date
In Vienna, the year of construction is displayed clearly on most buildings. When I arrived, my driver pointed out the differences between pre- and post-war construction. This was made significantly easier to do by virtue of the fact that the year can be seen clearly from the street.
Employers are well advised to follow a similar pattern. Although employment lawyers love documentation, we really love documentation that includes a date. Although we’ll make do with an undated witness statement, a statement that includes a date and signature is far, far more useful.
3. Try a new angle
We all get stuck in our ways. One of the hardest things to do is to look at a situation in a truly objective way without any predetermined opinions and without jumping too quickly to conclusions. Although this is a very, very difficult thing to do, it is an incredibly valuable skill to have.
Vienna’s historic buildings are awe-inspiring. They are also everywhere. To really get a sense of any one building, I had to look at it from as many angles as possible. The legendary Opera House looks completely different when seen from the ground as it does from the balcony of the Albertina Museum, which is just across the street. Every view was gorgeous. But I found that some of best images I captured were taken at angles other than straight on.
When dealing with a problem, take a step back from it. Look at it from the left, the right, and then look at it up and down before you decide how to proceed. Sometimes, the best approach may not be the one you’re used to taking.