How A Loving Leader Treats a Cancer Employee

For Property Managers, Realtors, and Managers!

On October 7, 2015 I was speaking at a Realtor event. It was about 1:00 pm when I finished my presentation. I opened it up for questions. This question was one of the best I have ever received. I was asked this specific question.

How do you identify and treat a cancer on your team?

It is important to keep in mind that first you are not a doctor. Diagnosing a cancer is very tough. I do not believe that anyone wakes up every day before noon, showers, puts on all their business clothes, waits in traffic for 30 mins to the offices, and sits for 40 hours per week, away from their family to screw around all day!

There are definitely different personalities and I would suggest that it may be the personality type you work the least best with causing you difficulty.

I would suggest before calling someone a cancer try a number of the following things:
  1. Analyze the Personality Types- Read Personality Plus. This book is available on Amazon and will for sure change the way you see everyone.
  2. Change Your Behavior First - Make sure that it is not your behavior that is getting the results from that staff member. Jack Canfield in the book 17 Success Principals gives the formula E+R=O. He suggests that you cannot control all the E’s Events but you can control your R’s Responses to whatever event occurs. This event plus your response results in the O’s outcomes. “Top-down communication that conveys the leadership's priorities and goals can, therefore, encourage achievement-oriented employees to seek new strategies and tactics for attaining those goals” (Fernandez & Moldogaziev 2013). Are you really being clear with what you would like from the employee?
  3. Change The Employee’s Environment – Changing the employee’s environment is like a doctor taking a biopsy. You are going to remove the employee from whatever job they are currently doing by changing responsibilities. You can even change their title and change their compensation structure.
Once you have identified that you actually have a cancer you are left with the same treatment options as a physician. A doctor who works with cancer has two general options to treat cancer.

1. Chemo – This is a slow dip technique. Chemo is when you apply pressures that gently encourage the staff member to leave on their own. You may write them up for issues that you are having. You could utilize performance improvement plans. Change their office to an office they would not like, or give the responsibilities to do task they do not prefer to do. You also could provide encouragement for them to find a new job, and offer to act as a reference. I would check with your organizations HR department about their specific recommendation and what they would encourage you to do. “Simply put, if an employer can reasonably argue that it eliminated a position to save money (and presumably have even higher profits), then a judge won’t assume the decision was based on some other nefarious reason” (DiLorenzo, 2012).

Side effects:  Fatigue, Pain, Mouth and throat sores Diarrhea. Nausea and vomiting. Constipation. Blood disorders. Nervous system effects.

2. Radiation – This is simply walking in a firing them. Eliminating their position. Reorganize. This option is sometimes the best because it is very quick and can keep the cancer from spreading. This solution often creates scars and may damage tissue around the cancer.

Side effects: Skin problems. Fatigue. Site specific pain. Scars. Dry Mouth.

When treating cancer you may ask yourself a number of questions: What type of cancer is it? How aggressively is it spreading? What stage are you at? These type of questions effect the decision making and your treatment plan. Ultimately you have to determine if this person, is poisoning others and cannot be coached.

Please share this article with everyone you know! 

DiLorenzo, L. (2012).Cite business reasons to justify terminations. (cover story). HR Specialist: New York Employment Law, 7(12), 1-2.
Fernandez, S., & Moldogaziev, T. (2013). Using Employee Empowerment to Encourage Innovative Behavior in the Public Sector. Journal Of Public Administration Research & Theory, 23(1), 155-187.

Nathan is the Senior Property Manager for Affinity Property Group. Nathan holds an MBA with an emphasis in accounting from Keller Graduate School of Management and a B.A in Nonprofit Management from Lindenwood University.  In addition to his degrees, he holds a Missouri real estate license and a National Apartment Leasing Professional (NALP) certification. He is currently a member of SCORE which is a nonprofit organization that serves to mentor start-up and growing businesses. Lastly, Nathan wrote the book Leadership Coaching as a Strategy for Employee Development and has been a guest speaker and facilitator at national conferences on the topics of leadership. 
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