There are real similarities between cancer of the body, and when you experience cancer within your business.
The diseased cancer cells of the body attack the healthy cells, just like the negative attitude of an employee or team member can affect all of the positive hardworking members of your team.
Not handling this as quickly as possible can cause serious damage to your team!
There’s NO question that difficult team members occur in different ways; you might have the complainer who is never happy, or maybe you have someone who is a bully and blames every mistake on everyone else. It doesn’t matter how your “cancerous” team member behaves, the important thing is that you get rid of them ASAP.
I experienced cancer within FITzee Foods when it was open. And, if I’m really honest, FITzee Foods died because of all of the cancer that was entangled within it.
However, there was one time in particular that an employee really crossed the line and needed to be removed immediately.
I had hired a COO to help me run the operations of the company. I was thrilled to have someone to share the work with, hoping that this would help take FITzee Foods to the next level because I’d be able to dedicate more time to pitching investors and other big clients (like Costco or The Vitamin Shoppe). Sadly, that wasn’t what occurred.
At the time I had traveled to NYC to connect with the higher-ups at The Vitamin Shoppe, and when I came back to San Diego there were two new hires in our kitchen.
Obviously, as being a COO one of the responsibilities is to bring on new staff, but these two individuals were brought on while I wasn’t around to do any of the new hire paperwork, since as a small business owner I played the HR role, too. When I questioned the COO, I was advised that I had been too busy and traveling too much, and since food needed to be made in the kitchen, he’d made the executive decision to bring on two new employees to help out.
I was so angry. All I could think about was this person who I had trusted, was not only disrespecting me, but also disrespecting the laws. I knew that I couldn’t work with someone who A) isn’t transparent, and B) who is completely dishonest.
I went berserk. I turned into what I like to call Ursula. He hadn’t followed our new hire protocol and was blaming it on me because I was traveling to grow our business. Within two weeks I had to fire my COO.
Initially, I was so stressed about how I was going to keep the company afloat without the COO, but unfortunately, if you don’t follow the laws and company policy as it relates to bringing on new team members, you’re going to raise red flags, and get yourself fired.
I did manage to keep FITzee Foods going for another year, even without the help of a COO. The one lesson I did learn, is that I should have let the COO go MUCH sooner because his cancer did spread throughout the company and I had to go through and correct much of what he had done.
Now, I can’t keep cancer from coming into your business, but I can help you understand why it’s important to remove it as soon as you can, in this blog post.
Believe in Your Business’ Culture
Like me, a guest on Success Unfiltered, Chris Cavallini, struggled with a cancerous employee within his team. Chris is the owner and founder of Nutrition Solutions, which is a similar business to what FITzee Foods was.
About two and a half years ago, Chris hired an executive chef to run the culinary side of the business. Chris had the drive and persistence but admits to knowing nothing about the culinary side of the things.
The chef he brought in was a phenomenal cook, but he and Chris were never on the same page. Chris wants people who are positive and driven, people who believe in personal development, and the cook had a very cynical nature to him.
At one point while working together, the chef told Chris that with the caliber of employees that Chris was hiring their kitchen was never going to be any better than Burger King.
This isn’t disrespect to those who work at Burger King, we all have to start somewhere, but this chef meant it in a very insulting way. To the chef, it meant that Chris was only hiring low-level people that didn’t care about the company and were only showing up for a paycheck.
Those words got to Chris. He started wondering whether this gentleman had the ability to help lead Chris’ team to positive greatness because he didn’t believe in the people Chris was hiring.
In the end, Chris made the decision to terminate the chef. Chris knew that this guy was cancer within his organization and that he was taking away from the mission of Nutrition Solutions.
The chef didn’t believe in the same things that Chris did. He didn’t hold the same core values that Chris had for Nutrition Solutions.
By letting the chef go Chris was able to start bringing in the right people, who have helped develop a culture and a solid group of people that Chris is very proud of working with.
Had Chris decided to listen to what the chef had said, Nutrition Solutions would probably be in an entirely different place right now, one that Chris may not have been happy with.
Don’t Be Afraid to Remove the Cancer
When you have a bad seed working within your organization you’ll probably feel torn. On one side, you have this individual who doesn’t believe in your big vision, but by firing them, you’ll be leaving a big hole that you will have to fill in, thereby creating more work for yourself, temporarily.
However, if you’re an entrepreneur or a leader of people in any way, and you have someone giving you resistance, are never onboard with your plans, and are always pessimistic, then it is time to just get rid of them.
Honestly, if you’re even thinking about the fact that you might need to get rid of them, then you probably should have done it three or four months ago.
The reality is that the resistance and bad energy can start transcending into the entire organization. And, it will keep spreading until you remove the cancer from the equation. Once you do remove it, you’ll feel an almost immediate uplift in energy and attitude.
Also, somebody could be a hard worker and really good at their job, but if they have a shitty attitude it’s going to have an unfavorable impact on the team and their performance.
As Chris put it, “It’s better to be short of help than to have shitty help.”
When you have cancer in your business as Chris or I did, it will feel scary to let them go. But, I can’t stress it enough, you are better off letting them go and working to find someone who is a better fit.
Have you ever experienced cancer within your business? If so, I’d love for you to share how you removed it in the comments.