Updated: May 28, 2020
This guy has cancer.
On December 22, Joe Biden's press secretary, TJ Ducklo announced that he has metastatic lung cancer. (Metastatic means cancer has spread to other parts of his body.
What was missing from the news was the mad scramble and conversations about messaging that should occur every time an important member of a team has cancer. Managing messaging is an important part of helping your employees manage their cancer care and helping the team adjust to uncertainty.
If someone influential on your team has cancer, how you message the diagnosis and its effect on the team can impact morale and productivity.
A well-crafted message can:
1. Keep the team productive. When a leader is missing because of cancer or other health issues, productivity can decrease. This decrease is often caused by the uncertainty of the future and no clear interim leadership plan. A clear message will lay out a plan that reduces the fear and anxiety of the team and co-workers.
2. Build a more cohesive culture. When a team leader has cancer team members throughout the organization will want to show their support. A well-crafted message will provide directions on how best to provide that support which in turn builds on and can reinforce company culture.
3. Inspire the leader with cancer. Many workers fear being replaceable. In addition, according to a recent study, the greatest benefit employees in crisis gain from their employers and colleagues is the emotional support afforded by the social network at work. The emotional benefits outweigh ever work-related assistance!
There are other benefits as well. You can increase retention not just with the leader with cancer but throughout your organization. Who doesn't want to work for an organization the seems to care about its employees!
A well-crafted message is an important tool when managing any crisis, including cancer.