The Manager stands at the intersection of company commitments and employee need as a member of their team faces cancer. While supervisors may have little preparation for addressing the many demands of managing through cancer, they are the gatekeepers on many issues that make dealing with cancer considerably easier or harder for their employees.
Among the matters they face are:
• Maintaining compensation in an equitable manner
• Adjusting work schedules over the course of treatment
• Protecting their employee’s privacy
• Coordinating with HR
• Setting and managing the expectations of co-workers
• Enabling effective flexible schedules
• Working out appropriate forms of communication
• Dealing throughout with the morale of the person and the team
If the only thing expected of a manager was to interpret black and white policies in each of these areas, the extra workload and fine tuning would be challenging enough. But these policy and procedure matters are not always fully worked out and communicated across the company.
The role of the manager in managing an individual and a work group through cancer is one of endless balancing:
• Striking the balance between work and time off as needed by their employee
• Seeking a balance between company procedures and employee need
• Finding a balance between too little and too much communication
• Balancing the impact of the employee's time off on the team's workload
• Maintaining one's commitment to all aspects of the manager’s ongoing role
Done well, the work of effectively managing an employee through cancer can prove invaluable to the employee, inspiring to the team and positive for the company. And for the effective manager, managing through cancer can prove personally rewarding as well.