Many business travel road warriors are familiar with the short-term international trip – a four-day conference in Tokyo or a quick round trip to Rio for an important meeting. These whirlwind treks often leave travelers feeling numb, disjointed, and disconnected. Moving from city to city in one hotel that blurs into another, eating different foods, dealing with jet lag… These trips can seem draining as opposed to a meaningful cross-cultural adventure, when in fact, short-term business travel is actually known to lead to developing more productive and dedicated personnel.
Self-confidence is enhanced by traveling abroad.
Traveling presents a unique opportunity to see the world from a different perspective. This may mean having to step out of your comfort zone and learn how to interact in what seems like an unnatural situation – like trying a new food or navigating a country where you don’t speak the language. There are many challenges of international short-term travel and the ability to deal with these challenges and continue as planned is a vital skill for most business executives.
New situations that people encounter while traveling through foreign countries help to expand creativity.
Research studies have shown that people are often at their most creative and most “cognitively flexible” when spending time in a different setting. Going to a new place and seeing things in a different way (i.e. traffic signs) helps open the mind to exploring new possibilities. Problem solving activities such as placing an order in a different language or navigating an unfamiliar transit system makes the brain work harder because it can’t rely on what it already knows – it must experiment and innovate. The benefit to your company may simply be that travel will lead to seeing things in different ways never considered before, which leads to implementing new ideas back at the office.
Dealing with uncomfortable situations professionally and gracefully is an essential life skill.
International short-term trips increase the likelihood some unplanned situation may occur – perhaps you’re unfamiliar with cultural protocols such as where to sit at a large dinner party. You may have to give a last minute presentation and quickly learn what to do – and not to do – in order to fit in with the local business environment. Although you can read about these experiences, it is entirely different to have to navigate these situations in real time. It’s called experiential learning and many believe it’s the best way to learn.
Adaptability and decisiveness are key leadership skills.
Short-term travel often provides more opportunities than long-term assignments to evaluate employee’s leadership potential. Those familiar with long-term assignments know how much support is offered by the company prior to their assignment. Short-term travelers rarely receive benefits such as cultural counseling or language training. With so little time to adapt, these short business trips can quickly test mettle and ability to think on the spot.
Business travel is often anything but glamorous, but by focusing on the potential benefits, you can inspire your team to get the most out of their journey. When personnel are aware of all the potential benefits, they are more likely to pay attention and have a more meaningful experience. Focusing on these advantages together will bring these advantages home producing a more resilient, creative team that has a deeper understanding and awareness for the rest of the world.