As the mood of summer sets in, so does the mood to travel, visit new places& take a vacation. An unconventional, but popular mode of vacation is ‘Go Backpacking’. Backpacking is defined as travelling without a much detailed plan, travelling light without much baggage, exploring territories which are not mentioned in tourist guides, picking up transport methods which are uncommon, doing home stays, trying out local cuisines etc. Basically, a relaxed slow paced travel to explore unknown places without a fixed itinerary or agenda.
Traditionally most of us are apprehensive about this kind of travel. As cautious prudent travellers, we prefer to be in control, only visit places which have been tried and tested; we look for locations which are easily accessible. More than often we invest our money and time in staying in a place which will provide the comfort of home.
Many of us would question, how does it matter which mode one travels? In the end, did we achieve the derived result of visiting & seeing the place of interest? Well, the answer is simple and depends on whether we want to simply visit & see these places or ‘Do we want to experience & learn’?
If your answer is latter, then you need to move away from your comfort zone and learn to embrace the newness. We should then be comfortable to explore ambiguity, ready to take risks and finally we should be ready to break away from traditions and acquire new ways.
Does the same stand true for our outlook at workplace?
At this juncture, when we are travelling towards a new journey making HR a truly Strategic Business Partner, it most certainly does.
For all those on this journey, you need to take a pause and for all those who are just beginning their journey, do remember to adopt the outlook of ‘Backpack’ travel and not the traditional tourist outlook.
Are we ready to let go of our traditions and acquire new ways?
All Traditions and Practices have expiry dates. What worked in the past need not be a guarantee for future success too! We need to be ready to let go of our traditions and acquire new ways, either in terms of usage of technology in our daily lives, or exploring the role of data/analytics in our decision making or making organizations future ready by conducting proactive surveys like Gen Y Readiness etc. We shouldn't fall in the trap of best practices wherein we will react only when someone else tries something first and establishes it as ‘good practice’. In doing so we are always chasing and not taking lead to set the agenda.
Are we ready to risk?
As a true business partner we should be held accountable for some measurements which we strive for and should be ready to risk our reputation on the same, in exactly the same fashion business does. Our measurements should focus on how much additional business we can generate, how much will the productivity and profitability grow, how ready are we for future in terms of leadership pipeline, how ready are we in terms of organization’s overall capability, what is our build v/s buy ratio and so on. In exploring new destinations we might fail at times or land up in a place which we may like, but we need to believe that it is all part of the game. We would lose some and win some, and even if we lose in some place, the experience and learning of that journey would only make us better prepared for the future.
Can we embrace newness?
The best part of any backpack tour is that every moment is new and probably wasn’t anticipated the way it is. You build on whatever comes to you and innovate on the move as per your liking and aspirations. It is all about co-creating with your stakeholders rather than pushing the pre-set agenda which you have built in the traditional tour plan. In the journey of HR as Strategic Partner are we going to embrace this newness or doing things in a way which we haven't done before or are we still going to keep bull dozing?
Will we let go of our comfort zone?
Let’s promise to come out of our comfort zones, whether it is managing transactions or meaningless activities which don't add value to business or HR function. As much as transactions bring the much needed satisfaction, that we have achieved something during the whole day’s activities and thereby provide us a feeling that we have reached some destination, it is equally critical for us to realize that many a times it is the journey which is far more important than the destination. So folks! It is ok to go back home with loads of Work In Progress and not close all trackers and transitions.
Are we ready to explore ambiguity?
The biggest challenge in any backpack tour is the ability to explore ambiguity and be comfortable with the idea that the journey will be full of surprises. For many of us in HR, we relish the comfort of ‘calendar’ and a set of activities which are structured or conducted in a regular fashion, be it the Annual Day which always falls on XX day of the year or a Quarterly Training Calendar which says that training would happen in YY date or appraisals would get triggered on AA date and close on BB date etc. We should be willing to buffer extra time schedules in these calendars to create time for exploring and be flexible to accommodate changes therein.
Backpack tour is a new way to explore life and the purpose is not just to reach the destination but to experience and learn during that journey and the journey of HR as Strategic Business Partner is no different… So let’s backpack and enjoy this journey!