Volume 3, Issue 10
ă 2001 Hopkins and Company, LLC
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Few American organizations will remain unchanged, given the events of September 11, 2001. Executives are thinking about the safety of employees in a new way, and are assessing the safety of business travel, work locations, disaster recovery plans and what kind of leadership will be demanded from now on. We’ve selected a few of the many stories about executives that we’ve read and heard in the past few weeks to call attention to the kind of action that’s needed before, during, and after a crisis. Many of us who work in the world of words found ourselves silent, without a way to express the shock and horror. Leaders became visible during the crisis and somehow found the words to lead their organizations to what action was needed next to move on. You’ve spent many hours since September 11 thinking about the tragedies. This issue of Executive Times attempts to offer some ideas and perspectives to help to prepare you for a crisis you may face as an executive. To whatever extent you can learn something from the experience of someone else, you’re better prepared for action when crisis enters your world.
“Get Out Now!”
Some emergencies require speed and clarity of action. How attuned are you to the expectations of others concerning your behavior as an executive during a potential emergency? If fire bells go off in your workplace, what do you do? How prepared are you to take that critical first step which others will follow?
Cantor Fitzgerald employees worked on the uppermost floors of the World Trade Center. 700 out of 1,000 employees died on September 11. CEO Howard Lutnick would have been one of the casualties, but he was dropping his son off at kindergarten for the first day of “big boy school” when the planes attacked his office. Lutnick’s brother, Gary, was among the victims. While grieving the loss of family and friends, Lutnick listened to surviving employees who wanted to go back to work. The company reopened at offices in New Jersey two days later. You may have seen Larry King’s interview with an emotional Lutnick explaining how the firm doesn’t have money to continue to pay salaries to employees who died. Here’s part of their exchange from CNN (http://www.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0109/19/lkl.00.html): “KING: Does your firm -- how is your firm going to deal with all of these families and the like? Can Americans help you in any way? LUTNICK: Well, I'll tell you how we decided to deal with it. My partners and I, we talked about it and we decided that what we're going to do is we're going to give 25 percent of the profits of the company to the families of the victims to try to take care of them so they stay part of our family and that we can try to take care of them with our company, because you see they call me and they say: How come you can't pay my salary? Why can't you pay my husband's salary? Other companies pay their salary -- why can't you? But you see I lost...(SOBBING)... I lost everybody in the company, so I can't pay their salary. (SOBBING) They -- they think we're doing something wrong. I can't pay their salaries. (SOBBING) I don't have any money to pay their salaries. KING: Can America help at all? Can people help, Howard? LUTNICK: Well, I guess, you know, we're -- the victims, all the families, they're going to stay in the Cantor family and they're going to stay our partners. And so everything that we do, they're going to get 25 percent of whatever we do. So we do business with banks, we do business with broker dealers, and we...KING: So every dollar you make they get a quarter. LUTNICK: They get a quarter. So I mean, you know, if every money manager and pension fund just gives us a little bit of business then maybe we'll survive.” There are 1,600 children of Cantor Fitzgerald workers who died. Lutnick feels that the company needs to work for them.
Each person who died on September 11 left behind a unique life, a story, and loved ones. Many executives refer to their corporate community as a family, and treat the employees and their loved ones as members of an extended family. Would you be likely to take the action Lutnick and his partners did in committing future profits to the families of the victims of tragedy? When you talk about employees as “headcount,” can you see behind the numbers into the personal stories?
The tenant with the most employees in the World Trade Center, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, found that their disaster planning over the past decade helped enormously in the aftermath of the tragedy. All but six of the 3,600 Morgan Stanley workers in the WTC are accounted for and safe. We read in the American Banker (September 25, 2001) (http://www.thebankingchannel.com/home/story.jsp?story=TBCE4PWXRRC) that plans to work without access to their WTC offices began in 1991. During the 1993 bombing, the company learned what changes to the plans were necessary. Wardens were on each floor, responsible for evacuation. A duplicate command and trading center was set up within blocks of the WTC, and it was up and running within an hour following the attack.
Austin, Brown and Wood is
America’s fourth largest law firm, and 600 employees were in the World Trade
Center on September 11. All but one of the 600 survived. We read in The
New York Times (September 16, 2001) (http://www.nytimes.com/2001/09/16/business/16TALE.html)
that within three hours after the attack, partner Alan S. Weil, called
the landlord of the company’s midtown location and leased four additional
floors. Arrangements were made to deliver 800 desks and cell phones to the
new location, and to run cables to connect 300 new computers. The former WTC
branch office was relocated and open for business on September 17. Thanks to
an employee who drove back up systems tapes from a New Jersey storage
facility to Chicago, virtually all of the firm’s data, every electronic
document and e-mail message, was available to workers at their new worksite.
Does your organization have a disaster recovery plan that is highly likely to work in the event you and your employees cannot use your usual work sites? When was the last time you reviewed and tested your plans? What paper or end user systems are not included in your regular data storage and backup routines?
The title of the Business Week article (September 24, 2001) captured the mood of many business travelers: “Road Warriors to Road Worriers” (http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/sep2001/nf20010924_0343.htm). Business travel has often been viewed as an inconvenient necessity. Following the September 11 attack, many companies have encouraged employees to avoid “unnecessary travel,” or to travel only in the event of an emergency. With expected travel times and hassles increasing, some companies are re-considering purchasing fractional shares in private aircraft, according to The New York Times (September 23, 2001) (http://www.nytimes.com/2001/09/23/business/yourmoney/23JETS.html). The attraction to the private jet alternative is the greater possibility of going where you want to go and leaving when you want. Jack Olcott, President of the National Business Aviation Association calls private jets “an office that moves.” Many executives are relying on conference calls, videoconferencing, and web meetings to replace face-to-face meetings. It may take some time before executives return to the prior rhythm of routine business travel.
What are your expectations concerning business travel over the coming weeks and months? How are you managing employees whose jobs have required travel, but are reluctant in the current environment? Has your organization provided employees with alternative methods of communication that can replace business travel?
Many organizations have brought in counselors to help employees cope with the impact of the September 11 attack. Witnesses to the attack are going through debriefing sessions to aid in achieving catharsis. Workers outside New York and Washington were also traumatized by the event, and employers are providing support to them as well. We read the opinion of one expert quoted in The Wall Street Journal (September 25, 2001) (http://interactive.wsj.com/archive/retrieve.cgi?id=SB1001366265258729880.djm), “ ‘The real fallout will happen two to three months down the road [when] everything seems normal,’ warns social worker Mila Ruiz Tecala, head of the Center for Loss and Grief in Washington.” Employees will look to managers for leadership in helping them find a way to move forward. Some advisors encourage executives to be sensitive and flexible since different employees will need different forms of leadership. Both listening and disclosing personal feelings can help. Encouragement and understanding by managers will help to create an environment for healing. Executives need to recognize that some individuals will need more time than others for emotional healing.
How visible have you been to employees since September 11? Do you anticipate that your support and encouragement will be needed in an intense way for many months? Have you directed individuals toward the many forms of professional counseling that may help them? Have you received the counseling and support you need to move forward?
Here are selected updates on stories covered in prior issues of Executive Times:
Ř It may have been a matter of coincidence, but on the front page of the August 1999 issue of Executive Times, we noted the selection of Carly Fiorina as Hewlett-Packard CEO, and on page 2, we called attention to the selection of an unknown executive to lead Compaq, Michael Capellas. All the media reported the proposed merger of these two companies in recent weeks. Was it their relative proximity in Executive Times that brought them together? Nah.
Chief Peter J. Ganci, Jr., the New York Fire Department’s highest ranking uniformed officer, was not one of those executives who leads from a remote command center. He died at age 54 on September 11 while leading firefighters in their rescue efforts at the World Trade Center. We read in The New York Times (September 13, 2001) (http://www.nytimes.com/2001/09/13/obituaries/13GANC.html) that, “The chief ‘would never ask anyone to do something he didn't do himself,’ said Howard Safir, who was his direct superior as fire commissioner from 1994 to 1996, the year Mr. Safir was named police commissioner. ‘It didn't surprise me that he was right at the front lines. You would never see Pete five miles away, in some command center.’”
First Deputy Fire Commissioner William Feehan could have retired long ago. Instead, at age 71, he was on the scene at the World Trade Center on September 11 and he died when the south tower collapsed on his command center. We read in The New York Times (September 13, 2001) that Feehan, son of and father of a firefighter, was the first person in the department to hold every rank within the department. In a speech at the Astoria fire department centenary, he commented, “We are only passing through. We are the guardians and custodians of a 100-year tradition.” His son, John, said that retiring never entered his mind.
Neither firefighter knew how many of their co-workers died in their heroic attempt to save the lives of others.
(Note: readers of the web version of Executive Times can click on the book covers or titles to order copies directly from amazon.com. When you order through these links, Hopkins & Company receives a small payment from amazon.com. Subscribers to the print version of Executive Times can receive the web version at no additional cost. Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with a request to be placed on the web version distribution list. Also, not all books we read make it to the pages of Executive Times. For expanded reviews of Executive Times selections and other books, visit our book review site at http://www.hopkinsandcompany.com/books/list.htm.)
Divide and Conquer
Stairway to Heaven
A total of 24 book reviews were added during September 2001 at http://www.hopkinsandcompany.com/books/list.htm. Only the books rated “Highly Recommended” are profiled in Executive Times this month. Check out the others for books you may enjoy reading.
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