On Thursday, March 12, we received an email from our Partners advising that effective Friday the 13th, we would have a period of mandatory working from home to test our VPN to ensure it was robust enough to accommodate everyone working remotely. Initially, we were to work Friday and Monday; within just a few days our leaders extended that to the end of March. By the time the rest of Dallas and surrounding counties started working remotely, we were well into our groove and being very productive.
We’re approaching another Friday the 13th which means eight months to the day that we’ve been working remotely. Wow. Who knew?
Throughout these eight months, we have seen what our leadership is really made of. We began our fiscal 2020 (October 1, 2019) with a renewed commitment to having 2020 vision – to see ourselves, our work, and our clients clearly so we can better provide the services we offer. But the events of 2020 caught everyone off guard. Without warning, our four Principals had 26 scared children representing 26 families, looking to them for guidance and reassurance about their livelihoods. They rose to the occasion immediately, as evidenced by their foresight regarding the testing of our VPN.
Camille Barton, Kip Hanzlicek, Dan Thien, and Scott Brown worked together tirelessly ‘behind the scenes.’ They always had a plan – a fluid plan that evolved as needed in this nasty COVID environment. It’s clear this team is a cohesive unit with common goals for our firm. When Dianne Fletcher retired in 2016, I expected to see some changes (hey, I’m old and this ain’t my first corporate rodeo), and that’s ok. They don’t necessarily think alike – but are good at candidly talking through the pros and cons and reaching decisions that are palatable for all. What a wonderful balance!
Our Partners’ actions have been bold and unapologetic, and I think are part of national leadership in our industry and beyond that’s not afraid to grow and change to remain relevant. They have made it clear that our well being is their priority. They’ve even managed to sustain our sometimes wacky but always comfy culture, despite the fact that we haven’t all been in a room together since February. We continue to have monthly employee meetings, and we celebrate birthdays and anniversaries and many other milestones for employees. PMI’s leaders have been creative and unafraid to try something new. Heck, how many of you have leaders who get your personal pizza order and have it delivered to your home for a monthly zoom meeting? Plus, we’ve probably played every zoom game imaginable (Thank. You. Kip.). Teams and disciplines still meet regularly. The workouts that were once in person at the office after hours three days a week are now virtual 30-minute workouts five days a week. (Of course, randomly-selected teams are competing to see who wins the fitness prize. For now.) Leadership has done an incredible job pivoting when necessary to keep us motivated and connected. We try to be gracious beneficiaries of their efforts.
I think one secret of our leadership team’s success is that they know and respect each other, our employees, and our firm. Employees share this respect, and we appreciate that they lead by example.
At the beginning of our fiscal year, we have an all-employee strategic planning retreat where we discuss and set goals for the coming year. This year, the ‘Rona version included lunch then a bit of archery and axe throwing during the afternoon. No overnight stay, but a chance to see faces in person (it’s been sooooo long), and recommit to our firm, each other, and our clients. Typically at our retreats, the employees coordinate something special to … well… honor and thank our leaders in true Purdy-McGuire fashion. But we couldn’t do that this year.
So on behalf of all of our employees, I say a simple “thank you” to our Partners, though that seems inadequate. Your passion for Purdy-McGuire and all it entails is evident and appreciated. Your compassion for the personal plights of your 26 children (plus your own families!) is more than I expected because it’s over the top and not necessarily “normal.” But what is “normal” anymore? Well, I don’t know but I have confidence that our Partners will find our path and lead our business through it.