JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon used the bank's quarterly earnings call Tuesday to take questions for the first time on a very important matter: his recent diagnosis of throat cancer.
Two weeks after disclosing in a memo to employees that he had curable cancer, Dimon addressed the situation head-on with an update on both his plans and the bank's management plans going forward. Dimon's handling of the situation serves as an important lesson for entrepreneurs and leaders on the best way to communicate with your employees when it comes to matters of the CEO's health and succession planning.
Here are three tips on how to best address these delicate subjects with you company, from Dimon's remarks.
Update your employees on the situation
In his opening comments, Dimon gave a concise status update on his health. "I'm very fortunate that this is curable," he said, adding that the cancer had not spread to any other areas of his body. Dimon underscored that he will undergo the standard eight-week chemo and radiation therapy, saying that his prognosis was "excellent" and that he feels "great."
Explain any contingency or succession plans
After addressing his treatment schedule, Dimon explained that the bank's existing succession plan remains in place, and that the board talks about these plans "all the time." If executives need guidance while Dimon is unavailable, Lee Raymond, JPMorgan's lead director, will be available, Dimon said. "We are fortunate enough to have an exceptional group of executives. I think that many of them can run a major financial company, and the board feels the same way."
Set the agenda going forward
While Dimon explained that he will continue to be involved in managing the company, his plan is to "take it easy" and adopt a less strenuous workload, he said. "It doesn't mean not to work at all, but to focus on my health...The board will be continually briefed on my condition. If they feel there is any reason to say something material we will let you know," he said.
Sometimes, the best leadership decision in the face of a health scare is knowing when to step aside to focus on your health, and to let someone else run your business. Hewlett-Packard interim chairman Ralph Whitworth took this exact step Tuesday, resigning from the computer company effective Wednesday to "focus on his health," the company said.
Whitworth has yet to disclose any details and HP's board said it would discuss appointing a successor at its next meeting.