Bonding During a Crisis

Everyone has a story about 9/11 and where they were that day. And, on the anniversary of this tragedy every year, it brings back memories of being in New York City that day attending a meeting with a group of my Human Resources colleagues in midtown, when we were stunned to hear that two planes had just crashed into the World Trade Center.

The senior HR team had barely begun to address the agenda items when the VP of HR gave me a note telling me what had happened and advising that we should adjourn the meeting to get an update. The memories are still vivid of watching the towers collapse on TV, looking out the window to see people running (not sure where they were running to), and trying to comprehend what was happening given the situation at the Pentagon, the airplane crash in Pennsylvania, and speculation about what was next.

As a team, we pulled together to reach out to fellow employees located in lower Manhattan, only to find out that the building had been evacuated and employees released to find their way home amidst the chaos and tragedy. As the reality of what happened set in, we made contact with key leaders in our company and realized that the bridges were closed and everything shut down in NYC.

We had about 15 people on the team who needed to get home, and we realized that air travel was shut down, it was almost impossible to rent a car, and the only way out would likely be on a ferry, driving, or on a train. It was evident that some of the team members would have to stay in the city while several would depart by train or car the next morning. We will never forget the generosity of the hotel staff who stayed that night to make sure that we were taken care of, fed, and safe.

While we thought of ourselves as a team prior to the tragedy of 9/11, the uncertainty and realization of what happened serve to bond our team together for years to come. During the last fifteen years, the company was acquired and all team members went in a different direction. But, the common bond of living through a tragedy and helping each other and others in the city meant a lifetime connection of support and memories that will forever hold us together.

So, on the anniversary of 9/11 each year, a team member posts a reminder of 9/11, and needless to say, there are responses from fellow team members across the country reminding each of us of how fortunate we were and how proud we are to be an American and a part of an incredible team of HR professionals?—?no matter the distance or time! Today, we remember and honor those 3,000 people whose lives were lost during the tragedy of 9/11.