You and your boss: How does diabetes impact your relationship?

Dr Gary
By Dr GaryCA Latest Reply 2017-05-20 21:01:16 -0500
Started 2017-04-15 17:31:59 -0500

In companies and organizations, employees are often told how important it is to manage up with your boss.

Have you heard that phrase before? Basically, managing up means to be sensitive to what your boss needs and how to deliver it. Examples of managing up include keeping your boss informed on what you’re working on, speaking in a way that your boss can listen and understand, and performing your tasks based on your boss’s preferred workstyle, among others.

When you manage up, you are more likely to earn your boss’s trust, as well as have a more positive day-to-day relationship. Managing up also helps to assure that your boss will be more likely to cut you some slack when you need it, like when you’re having a bad day, or need take a day for a medical test or a doctor’s appointment. As Jason said, staying under the radar with your boss isn’t necessarily going to benefit you.

I wrote an article about this topic recently. Here’s a link:

So what about you? Does your diabetes affect the way you communicate with your boss? Are you extra careful to manage up to make sure he/she is on your side if a health issue comes up? Do you directly discuss your diabetes with your boss? Or do you do everything you can to keep it to yourself.

Really interested to hear from you!

13 replies

Stuart1966 2017-05-08 19:32:54 -0500 Report

I have never had the privilege of such a boss. I envy those who do.

Those I suffer, those whom I endure now are viciously imperial. (Caligula far "friendly" version what my peers & I endure).

Never had a diabetes health issue sufficient to prevent me from attending work? Understand I guess its possible, just never had that experience surprisingly.

I compartmentalize diabetes,

Bosses had zero idea I was diabetic, much less a Type ! diabetic. I do not share that information; bias, discrimination, or unwelcome counsel are among many reasons. Never want the disease to interfere/alter the outcome, good or bad.

They are not friends, they are bosses. Push comes to shove they will protect themselves, Never heard that particular term, like it though

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2017-05-15 08:57:04 -0500 Report

Hey Stuart, there are a lot of bad bosses out there, that's for sure. I have had a few of them myself. Glad to hear your diabetes has not been an issue at work. And I can certainly understand why you would want to keep this to yourself, especially if you thought your leaders would not be sympathetic. Unfortunately, there is still bias and just plain ignorance out there, including in the workplace. The laws protect people only to a point, they don't necessarily protect you from a boss with an attitude. And yes, it's important to have realistic expectations about what to expect and not expect from a boss. Thanks for chiming in here.

Stuart1966 2017-05-20 21:01:16 -0500 Report

Hello Dr. Gary:

Keep looking for a 55 gallon drum of "holy water", or
some SILVER bullets -wg-

But so far haven't found the right tools to endure the current "coven" of supposed bosses…

Acck, never missed hours/days of work because of diabetes problems, but had lots of minutes at work when it visited, and tried a good imitation of the Star Wars Darth Vader Lava Scene and it is always fire-breathing…

Thank you for raising the topic, shared your term with others, they liked it too

Kittiebitty 2017-04-21 13:00:04 -0500 Report

Hi Dr Gary,
I actually started a new job recently and I haven't felt out how they feel about me being diabetic. All I was told was to get a letter from my doctor about my dexcom and pump. They didn't seem concerned about my health. My boss told me I could keep it to myself if I wanted to. I'm not sure if that is a good idea or not. I went low the other day and felt really nervous about telling anyone so I could treat it. I guess right now I am nervous of showing it could be an issue with me.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2017-04-21 20:08:44 -0500 Report

HI Kittiebitty, nice to see you. Feel out is a good term, it can be a good idea to take your time and get the lay of the land in a new job. I can certainly understand your concern about disclosing, I think many people have the same experience. Sounds like your boss is aware that you are diabetic. A good idea to make sure that you will have adequate support if you ever need help, as Washed Out suggested.

WASHED OUT 2017-04-21 16:16:47 -0500 Report

You are the one that the consequences of not telling others could result in bodily harm. With that said I think you know what you should do for your own safety. Things happen, and you will want people to help when they see you having trouble, otherwise they may sit and stare wondering what your problem is. Manufacturers put seat belts and air bags in the cars knowing that sometimes a crash happens and they want you to be able to walk away from that crash should it happen. Meaning every tool has to be used in order to protect your life should something unexpected happen. Those people are your tools for your own safety and no safety tool should be ignored or left unused.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2017-04-19 12:10:37 -0500 Report

Hi Dr.Gary,

I was working for a non profit when I was diagnosed at our annual Gala. Our boss found out that 3 of us were diagnosed and things did change around the office. She made sure that when we had meetings that involved food that food was provided that we all could eat and enjoy. We had an intern who was learned she could no longer have wheat products so she made sure there was food for her.

She always asked us how we were doing with our diabetes. The three of us compiled a book with all kinds of information. We learned together. When the bosses sister was diagnosed she came to us for help. We got permission to copy our book and put our information in a binder for her to give to her sister. She was grateful to us for doing it and it helped her sister immensely.

Back when I was working for the State, an employee brought a peach to work. As she ate it, I could smell it and I started to scratch and got light headed. I went to the ladies room and the next thing I knew, I woke up with my head in my bosses lap. I had a mild case of hives. He told me I scared the crap out of him. I told him I was highly allergic to peaches. He told everyone that they could not bring a peach into the department unless they were canned. Processed peaches do not bother me because I can't smell them like I can a fresh one.
He told me I should have said I was allergic and that would not have happened.

You have to let your boss know because he or she could find out if you have an incident and the medics have to be called.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2017-04-19 18:52:33 -0500 Report

Hey Joyce, thanks for checking in. What a great boss you had, unfortunately, a boos who is so compassionate is a rarity these days. What a great service you were able to provide by sharing that book your created. And that's an amazing story about the peach allergy. i had no idea even the smell could set of a food allergy. And you're right, a heads up on something like an allergy protects everbody.

WASHED OUT 2017-04-19 17:08:15 -0500 Report

That is a great story Joyce, I had never heard of a peach allergy until this. Eggs, peanut butter, and many other things but never would have even thought peaches could do that.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2017-04-19 17:54:04 -0500 Report

Washed Out, I am allergic to Banana's, all fruits with pits, Apple Peel but can eat the apple and allergic to apple juice, Beer, Tomatoes unless it is ketchup, wool, all nuts and now pumpkin seeds. Coconut. I can't have anything made with a nut flour.

My sister as of last summer is now allergic to red watermelon. She can eat the yellow, cherries and strawberries.

Sucks when I can't eat a lot of things because of allergies.

WASHED OUT 2017-04-19 20:12:27 -0500 Report

OMG,I feel so sorry for you. There are so many good things that could be made of the things you are allergic to. That would really suck even worse after having to eat a diabetic diet. I have never met anyone with allergies to all those things. I hope you keep one of those epipens handy and with you. I got so mad listening to that Senators daughter who was being questioned by Congress for raising the prices to outrageous rates for things people and kids have to have to live. I just have hay fever, and am allergic to penicillin and react badly to Lortab, so far I as I know. I dumped a huge bottle of Lortab into a old septic tank, the druggies would have loved to get them but I put them where they never will. It caused my heart to skip and I couldn't sleep until every bit of those left my system. It wired me up although the warnings say may cause drowsiness, and I already had had two heart procedures and didn't like anything that messed with my heart. Now the Nucynta an opioid that was prescribed didn't mess with my thinking or hype me up but it did kill most of the pain from RA, OA and Back injury. I don't take it very much although the directions are 2 times a day. I may take 1-2 in a weeks time.

GabbyPA 2017-04-17 11:44:45 -0500 Report

I had never heard of this term before, but it is how I would say I work. Even though I don't have a boss anymore so to speak, I have entered into a new office and a new way of doing things and I know I will do best if I make sure to conform when I should, share how I do it when I can see it would be an improvement and do things one time. I do believe that these things allow a trust to develop and will in turn allow that slack. I know before I started working for myself, I worked for a "spy on you" boss and he trusted no one. Even though we were doing record work for him, making him money, he still kept a surveillance on us all. With him, needing time off for dr. appointments or calling him from the ER was never met with compassion, but "when will you make up that time."

So really, measure up to one who is worth it, and move on from those who are not.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2017-04-19 18:49:33 -0500 Report

Gabby, that is a good attitude to have inn he workplace. It's always the best policy to go with the flow at the workplace, to follow the rules, work and communicate in a way that the boss will be most receptive, and build up a reservoir of goodwill. I know what you mean about micromanaging bosses, and those without compassion, I have been down that road myself. Being self-employed has its challenges, but it's nice to be our own boss.

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