How do you know when it’s time to tell your boss about your chronic illness?
I got this question in my email today (I added the bold):
“At what point, if ever, do I need to tell my employer I have a chronic illness? In the past, I’ve always gone with the philosophy of not mentioning it until something happens and it causes me to need to take a week off to rest, or I get an episode of double vision and can’t drive or read my computer monitor. At my current position, I was here 4 years before anything came up. I always figured that if I proved myself to my employer first, by being reliable, smart, and doing good work, they’d cut me some slack when I needed time off or some kind of accommodation. Is this a good approach or not? Is there something better?”
Obviously she feels uncomfortable — but I’m not sure she’s identified what’s really bugging her. And that’s a problem because when you don’t know what’s wrong, you come to conclusions that don’t solve the real problem. Here are some questions I have:
1. Do you think that this illness hurts your performance?
2. Do you think that telling your employer earlier (before an episode) would make a difference in your ability to get your work done?
3. You say they haven’t “cut you slack”. Do you think that’s the nature of this organization or is it something that you might be doing?
I didn’t give advice. I don’t know enough about her to do that. Anyway, there are specific and concrete suggestions for how, why and when to disclose at work in my Career Thrive Guidebook, Are You Talking?
Too often, we don’t know what’s really bugging us – and we make decisions that don’t solve the real problem. I have a hunch that’s true for the person who emailed me.
You can give yourself the challenge to find out what needs to be different for you to work successfully living with a chronic illness. Read about how I work with people, a lot like you, on my website . And then contact me so we can talk about how my coaching programs can help you stay working in the best way that you can.