I'm my own boss now and travel a lot for work. I love the autonomy. I manage my own flight itinerary and ground transportation, and often catch up with friends for dinner when I'm visiting a city. But this hasn't always been the case. For years, I was either traveling with my boss or constantly checking back into the office if traveling solo. It was nerve wrecking to say the least.
There was probably a point in your career when you went on a business trip with your boss and was perhaps nervous and intimidated too. For some, you may have delightful memories traveling with a boss-turned mentor.
But just like me you're the boss now and perhaps you even have employees that travel with you. Its easy to get caught up the moment and forget that you were once in your employee's shoes. Below are tips to keep in mind when traveling with your employees to ease their state of mind and kickoff both an enjoyable and professional trip.
1. Stop talking about work.
Yes, you're on a business trip, but that doesnt have to consumer your conversation. You and your employee are acquainted on a professional level, but what do you know about your employee outside of the office? If you know some details that's great but traveling gives you an opportunity to dig deeper. If you don't know any, now is a time to get to know your staff. Strike up a conversation about his or her hobbies, siblings/ parents, hometown, sports, college, etc. You may have a lot more in common than you initially thought and therefore work isnt the common denominator anymore.
Also let them know its okay to answer personal calls and respond to texts when you're not with a client. Being personable will ease any anxiety your employee may have at the beginning of the trip.
2. You don't have to be joined at the hip.
Give your employee a little space. Period. Don't feel obligated to sit next to your employee during the flight either. Chances are you'll get upgraded to first class but in the event you don't, it's nice for you each to have a little breathing room.
I once flew from the US to Germany with an employee. I sat a few rows behind her and noticed she talked a lot to a gentleman seated next to her. When we landed, she told me he was headed to the same trade show and ended up being a prospective client. Giving yourself a little room potentially can open up new opportunities.
3. 'Simon Says' is so overrated.
As the boss, you're constantly setting the tone, whether you say it directly or not. If you wear business formal to every meeting your staff will do the same. In some cases, your employee should follow your cues, however there are instances where it's not necessary.
Just because you get up early for breakfast doesn't mean your staff should be pressured to get up 6am too. If you don't have a glass of wine with your dinner, if policy allows your employee shouldn't feel obligated not to have one too after a long day. Give assurances to employees that it's okay not to follow your every lead. There is enough pressure already traveling with the boss, these little moments can go a long way.