You watch your personal health for signs of sickness – checking your blood pressure, having a blood test, getting check ups, etc., but are you able to ‘diagnose’ threats to the health of your business? To make it simple, let’s focus on the three main cancers that can kill your business, or at the least rob it of its vitality. If you want to consider this for your personal life and not your business, these are the three things that can rob you of your personal vitality and joy.

  1. Resentments: these are judgements you hold against others. Your employee might resent, for instance, having to ask for permission to leave an hour early to go to the dentist when you, the owner, come and go as you please. They may resent you deciding what they will do with their time and energy while they’re at work. This resentment can come in many forms, and sometimes its an attitude they’re carrying through life. They’ve set up a filter of what ‘authority’ looks like in a chain of resentment from parents, teachers, government and bosses. It’s a silent killer that festers anytime you give instruction or even constructive criticism to all but your ‘healthiest’ employees.
  2. Regret: this is what someone will hold against themselves, for not saying or doing something, for a mistake, for saying yes when they wanted to say no, for opportunities missed. These are the things that repeat over and over again in their minds, like an endless loop that starts playing any time things are either going really badly or really well and include a lot of ‘shoulda, coulda, woulda’ statements. Regrets come up out of the blue and instead of wiping the slate clean, as in “I’ve suffered enough, time to give this up for good”, are wounds that never heal unless dealt with. People need a healthy EQ (as opposed to IQ) to ‘treat’ regret.
  3. Withholds: these are the things unsaid – at least unsaid aloud – that could create an opportunity for ‘healing’ but, somehow or another, the person with the withhold has decided you won’t listen, or that ‘it’s not worth my time’. Resentments and regrets are types of withholds, but this last category, perhaps the most insidious of all, includes a lot of being right about things. The problem with being right ‘in our own mind’ is that your rightness doesn’t get tested by anyone with all of the facts. These are the ‘I could solve the world’s problems if I wanted to, but why bother; I’d rather be a hero in my own mind’ items.

These three cancers are what people are complaining about when the boss isn’t around and the longer these are ‘untreated’ the more damage they can do. As Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz say in ‘The Power of Full Engagement’: less than 30 percent of American workers are fully engaged at work . . . 19 percent are actively disengaged”, meaning they regularly share their complaints with their co-workers. It’s not enough for them to be miserable on their own, they want to make others miserable too.

So what’s the ‘cure’ for this type of cancer? Honestly, sometimes the only treatment is surgery – cut them out, cut them loose: better to deal with the ‘scar’ of separation than to let the cancer spread to others. But before taking drastic actions, similar to cancer caught early, treatment  can be effective. If you notice symptoms don’t avoid taking action: hold a town hall, or a ‘clearing’ of some sort, and give people a chance to  air their complaints without threat of reprisal. Set up an opportunity for them to share their viewpoints and have their voices be heard.

Is the purpose to give them whatever they want, whatever they need to be happy? No. The purpose is to expose the cancer to the ‘light’. The real goal, if you’re willing to do the work, is to create a new agreement where the issues are exposed and a compromise is created.

For more suggestions as to ‘treatments’, or to discuss your own specific concerns on this topic email me here: