top of page

16 Things Good Managers NEVER Do When An Employee Has Cancer (Part 2)

(This is part two. To read Part 1, click here.)




A very important message!


The items listed below are not just for your employee if they have cancer. Managers working with employees who are grieving or have depression will benefit greatly from these never dos too!


If you're a manager today, you know that means being responsible for your employees' productivity and mental well-being. That is especially important when an employee dies or suffers cancer, loss, or depression.


Their well-being is partly in your hands.


Scary right?


You need to learn how to be a more empathetic leader! That doesn't mean you let things slide; it means you manage your team, keeping their needs at the forefront. Does it mean you are considered nice? Nope. Does it mean that your team will like you all the time? Nope


But it does mean if you implement the skills consistently, your team will know you are considering their needs, your needs as a leader, and your organization.


As I said in Part 1, I discovered traits that compassionate leaders use to keep their teams connected and productive daily during a crisis. And I have also discovered some common themes of what good, compassionate managers NEVER do.


You might be described below as the manager who didn't do something right. Do not fear! Science has confirmed that you CAN learn how to be a better manager, especially in a crisis, and it's not as hard as you think.


Becoming a better manager could be this one article away!


Here is a list of things a good manager never does while managing an employee crisis. A good manager:

9. Never Thinks They Have It Figured Out

A good manager is not afraid to say, "I don't know." In fact, great managers say it all the time when it's true. If you have it all figured out all the time, your team won't trust you! Saying, "I don't know, but we are going to figure this out!" is one of the best phrases to use when you're in new territory.


No employee likes a know-it-all manager.

10. Never Expects Perfection

Good managers know that cancer, death, and depression are messy because emotions are messy. You are also aware that if you require perfection from your team, it is really about you and not them and probably has to do with your feeling out of control. Chaos has that effect on people! You are self-aware enough to catch yourself or apologize to the team for your crazy perfection demands.


11. Never Follows the Status Quo

Good managers know that working with a grieving team or an employee dealing with cancer, loss, or something else "big" means that adapting, tweaking, and adjusting to the changing landscape, sometimes daily, is a must. You are not surprised when a work plan that is doable today doesn't work a month from now. You know that your success depends on your ability to adapt.


12. Never Does All the Extra Work

A good manager knows that taking on all the extra work of your "sick" or grieving employee is the best way to become overwhelmed and to have the team dislike you! You delegate! Good managers don't say, "It's easier if I just do it." Sure your employees probably won't do it the way that your other employee did it, and maybe not as well, since this was your sick employee's expertise. But done is done, and perfection is not an option! Your whole team is learning and growing.


Good managers also remember to reward their team for taking on the extra work. There are many simple and easy ways to say, "Thank you for stepping up to the plate!"


13. Never Gossips

Look, most people love a good story! But when you're a manager, it is your responsibility not to share them or spread rumors. You know your silence sends a powerful message to the team – that you are trustworthy and know how to respect someone's privacy. That is a crucial part of psychological safety that plays a key role in a thriving team!


14. Never Acts Like The Martyr

No one likes to work for a manager that is "constantly overwhelmed" by "all the extra work they are taking on" by their own choice!!! No one likes a manager who lets everyone within and out of earshot know about their sacrifices to keep the team moving forward during "this difficult time." (Picture a person with their hand on their forward, palm facing outward, feigning exhaustion.)


When a team member has cancer, your job becomes more challenging. Before you start complaining about it, look at how much you are taking on because you WANT TO and how much you are taking on because you NEED to. Your want may be the cause of your overwhelm!


Look, you are an important enough person. You don't need to point out to everyone everything you are doing. Instead, you focus on pointing out everything your team is doing well! Most of your team want to help your employee in crisis, so let them do it. Don't do it for them.


15. Never Ends Meetings Too Quickly

A good manager knows that giving your team time to process a death or a cancer diagnosis is an essential part of effective management, and this is especially true if there is a death on the team.


A crisis takes time to adjust to, and everyone does so at their own pace. The beginning or end of a meeting is an excellent time to check in with your team. Please ensure you set some ground rules, such as not trying to make a co-worker "get over" their feelings.


Don't be surprised if the meeting that was supposed to be a review of forecasts against actuals turns into impromptu storytelling about the person who died. It needs to happen!


This will be challenging if you are a manager who likes to get stuff done, but you will quickly see the benefits! If done right, your team will feel more energized and focused on working hard.


16. Never Plays Entirely by the Rules

I'm in HR and have never played entirely by the rules. Now don't go breaking policies or laws, but there are times when you need to break or at least bend the rules to ensure your team is well taken care of. Which rules and when should they be bent is a nuisance decision. It depends on your personality and your team's culture. Don’t let a rule stop you from offering the kind of support your team or your employee really needs. Sometimes it's better to ask for forgiveness from your boss or HR than ask for permission. :)


Managing a team in crisis is not easy, but there are many techniques and tools you can implement to make doing it feel less chaotic, and that will leave your team feeling like you are at the helm in the rough seas. They will be looking to you for direction.



Did your employee die? Are you not sure what to say or how to act? Book your free strategy call to learn how to level up your crisis management skills within hours!

3 views0 comments
bottom of page