Licensee Badge
Submitted by wroschek on



I have a direct that is type 1 diabetic and requires a specific morning and evening schedule for his insulin injections. For this reason, he arrives about 30 minutes after everyone in the morning and leaves 15-30 minutes before everyone else in the evening. What language would be valuable when giving feedback to be sensitive to his medical needs and still get my point across that his behavior is affecting the team? (I have received very specific pushback about this "double standard" when giving feedback about tardiness to other team members)

For some context:

I have given this direct  feedback about his truency and his behavior improved immediately with regards to scheduling. His productivity and effectiveness however decreased sharply. When given feedback about this, I was given very clear pushback that his new schedule would be difficult to maintain due to the change in schedule of insulin injectionsof the new insulin his doctor pushback was . H

I have spoken with my boss about this issue and I was told to be accommodating to his needs. I am confident I have created a double standard and I am confident that I can correct the situation with help from the MT community.

Thank you in advance for any advice on this matter,


stephenbooth_uk's picture

I don't know where you are in the world but am going to presume US or possibly Europe (so the Americans with Disabilities act (2008) or equivalent legislation applies).  I am also going to presume that this direct's diabetes is known by the rest of the team and that there are no specific issues with their work product.

 I think reasonable feedback in this situation would be something like "When you claim I'm applying double standards for allowing a colleague reasonable adjustments to his work schedule required by his disability and as permitted or even required by law here's what happens.  I think that you are not sensitive to the needs of this corporation or team.  I think that you don't think before you speak or are ignorant of the basics of the laws we have to operate under as individuals and as companies.  It makes me wonder if you're really a good fit on this team.  What can you do differently?"

If the direct's diabetes is not known to the rest of the team you cannot disclose it (for the relevant guidance on the ADA see  The particularly relevant passage of the ADA is (emphasis mine):

"7. May an employer explain to other employees that their co-worker is allowed to do something that generally is not permitted (such as eat at his desk or take more breaks) because he has diabetes?

No. An employer may not disclose that an employee has diabetes. However, an employer certainly may respond to a question about why a co-worker is receiving what is perceived as "different" or "special" treatment by emphasizing that it tries to assist any employee who experiences difficulties in the workplace. The employer also may find it helpful to point out that many of the workplace issues encountered by employees are personal and, that in these circumstances, it is the employer's policy to respect employee privacy. An employer may be able to make this point effectively by reassuring the employee asking the question that her privacy similarly would be respected if she ever had to ask the employer for some kind of workplace change for personal reasons."

If this is the situation I'd suggest speaking to the direct and asking them if they object to their collegaues knowing, if they don't mind then suggest they talk to their colleagues if they get a chance.  If HR in your company run mandatory equalities training sessions then perhaps that might be a suitable forum to discuss disability discrimination and reasonable adjustments.



Skype: stephenbooth_uk  | DiSC: 6137

"Start with the customer and work backwards, not with the tools and work forwards" - James Womack


naraa's picture
Training Badge

 This is from the book First Break all the Rules, What the World´s Greatest managers do Differently by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman (p 15, Michael great manager whose work is an example of what the book is about):

Gallup: "Isn´t it unfair to treat people differently?"

Michael: "I don´t think so.  I think people want to feel understood.  Treating them differently is part of helping them feel unique.  If I know that one of my people is the primary breadwinner, then as long as they perform, I will be more likely to give him etter hours than someone who is a student.  The student might be a little annoyed, but when I explain the situation to him, he usually clams down.  Besides, he knows that I will be paying attention to his personal situation when he needs a special favor.  That´s always a good message to send."

p 151: Manage by Exception:

"Remember the Golden Rule? "Treat people as you would like to be treated."  The best managers break the Golden Rule every day. They would say don´t treat people as YOU would like to be treated.  This presupposes that everyone breathes the same psychological oxygen as you.  ... So the best managers reject the Golden Rule. Instead, they say, treat each person as HE would like to be treated, bearing in mind who he is.  Of course each employee must adhere to certain standards of behavior, certain rules. But within those rules, treat each one differently, each according to his needs."

This is my writing now (not from the book):

Follow your instincts.  Only you know what is best for your team and for each individual of your team.  You can hear people´s concerns, but that doesn´t mean you need to follow them.  Tell people that this individual needs this flexibility in schedule (not necessarily you have to explain why), and that you will be there for each one of them shall they show you they need special consideration.  Also focus them on their work and on their relationship and performance with you and not on comparing their work to that of others.  The way others perform and the way you relate with the others in the team is really non of their business.  Each can express concern to the way you are managing each one themselves.  They cannot express concern to the way you are managing somebody else.  They cannot possible assume they know what is happening in the other persons work or personal life to judge them or judge you on on what you allow them to do or not do.

I wouldn´t give them feedback though for complaining.  Just say they should focus on themselves rather than on the other people. 


jclishe's picture

I don't mean to sound heartless here, but unless he has some specific complications with his diabetes, losing nearly an hour a day is pretty excessive. I have 9 and 11 year old sons, and the 11 year old has been Type 1 since he was 4. Both of my boys wake up at the same time each morning, leave for school at the same each morning, return from school at the same time, etc. I'm guessing that being Type 1 costs my 11 year an average of, oh, 2 minutes of additional time per meal. And this from an 11 year old child that checks his own blood sugar and gives himself insulin. The exception is lunch; he leaves his class about 5 minutes before everyone else because he has to swing by the nurses office for his insulin (he can't carry needles around with him at school, obviously. And for liability reasons the nurse needs to log that he actually had an injection and how much insulin he took).

If there are untold complications at play here, than perhaps he truly needs this extra time. But if he's a "normal" Type 1 in that he's simply checking his blood sugar and giving himself a shot during each meal, and he claims he needs up to an hour out of his work day for this, than he either needs to learn how to manage his time better, or he's using his condition as an excuse. As a father I would never allow my son to behave this way and I'd be furious if I discovered he was doing this.

Does this direct take an extended lunch break too? If not, why not? It doesn't make sense that he would need up to 30 extra minutes on both ends of the workday for injections yet be capable of taking a normal lunch break. More evidence that the problem is the direct, not the condition.

Again, not trying to be heartless and I realize I probably haven't given you any actionable assistance, but this one hits close to home.

Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

You can handle this either way.  They're just different approaches to different problems. 

(and, a caveat: all this is based on you having a relationship with him, ideally through one on ones.  If you don't, well, do THAT and then come back to me in 6 months).

There are three problems here - timeliness, performance, and respect.

It's reasonable to say, in the vein of respect,  "I understand. Do what you need to do."  I think this is probably what your boss wants you to do, and I would guess, though could be wrong, that your boss does so out of fear of all those HR rules that always scare everyone.

It's also reasonable to say, relative to timeliness, "you're late" - in the feedback model.  (Remember, do it lightly).  When you get pushback, simply back off, ala the Shot Across the Bow.  If need be, say, "hey, you're not in trouble, I'm just telling you the effect of your schedule.  I'm not going to fire you, I just want you to know the impact of your situation.

Now - i would do that, easily.  Oh, HR would come down on his side, and say I was threatening him..but that's just because HR doesn't know much of anything most of the time when it comes to applying rules to the actual work that has to get done.  They're WRONG.  But, you're not me, and you may not want to cross swords with them.

I have managed several folks with diabetes, and find their schedules virtually no different.  I agree with JCLISHE in this regard (good post by the way).  My experience here tells me this guy is playing you.

Okay, that said, a little further to go here. If I thought he was playing me, I MIGHT say something to the effect of: "hey, listen, I want you to have all the reasonable accommodations we can give you.  (by the way, that phrase is really powerful, and you should say it regularly and write down that you say it regularly when this topic comes up).  And, my sense is that you don't need as much leeway as you're asking for.  The amount of time you're taking IS affecting your output, your work.  Can you bring me something from a doctor which says that you need at least an hour a day to take care of this problem?  Because what I'm gathering is it shouldn't be taking but a few minutes a day, based on modern diabetic treatments."

NOW.  What would I do based on what you've said?

First, I think he's pulling a crap move, and I don't like it. I think he's holding his performance hostage to an easier schedule (I'd love to know what kind of demeanor and level of energy he has at work).  I think the moment his performance dropped (unless you're saying he was acting sick, which seems egregious to me) when you addressed timeliness is the moment he proved himself to be not playing fair with you/the organization.

But..what would I do?  I'd give feedback about timeliness, and yet allow him to come in late.  (Wait, it makes sense).  Remember, I'm not holding him accountable, yet.  BUT.  I'd pay very close attention to his performance, and particularly quantity and timeliness of performance.  And I would  give regular negative feedback about PERFORMANCE.

Frankly, because of the diabetes, he can probably find some doctor who will tell him "sure, you need that much time."  It's likely stupid, but whatever.  Just re-read JCLISHE.  But, if he's going to lose an hour a day, NO WAY he can perform at a high enough level all the time.  There are going to be cracks, and I would point them out.

To be clear: I want him to stay.  And, I want him to be treated as individual, with respect for his medical condition. AND, I want him to perform. 


wroschek's picture
Licensee Badge

 Thank you, thank you, thank you for your comments and providing me great advice on a number of levels. I have addressed both directs in our one-on-ones (been doing them for about 6 months now) and received pushback from both. For the direct without diabetes, I stated that I am addressing her behavior and how it affects her performance and professional appearance.

For the direct with diabetes, I addressed the pushback nearly the same way including  "reasonable accommodations". The employee break room now has snacks and refreshments (One Kind Thing) that he suggested as useful for his blood sugar "peaks and valleys". 

Thank you Stephen, Nara, jclishe and Mark

With gratitude,


ved12's picture

It is really very important for diabetic patients to get the insulin at morning before lunch and evening before lunch. If you need some more time then it is not bad because this is your need of your life to control diabetes. You should take the insulin on time this is better for your health and your diabetes will be in control.

What is Type 1 Diabetes

awil's picture

We have an employee who has just been diagnosed and is on a 3 day week (temporarily) while learning to manage the condition. When in work, performance, timeliness etc are all acceptable.

Unlike JCLISHE I'm not coming from a position of knowledge about the condition - however, as our employee's performance is good this would indicate to me also that your employee is trying it on.

There is one thing that our company does which could be an option for you (and will back up the statement Mark uses "I want you to have all the reasonable accommodations we can give you").

We provide a proper medical disposal bin in the bathroom so that any employees needing injections in work have somewhere to dispose of sharps. Now we are a big company with contract cleaners who can handle this sort of waste properly so this may not be possible for you, however if it is possible, it might be a good choice.

You've stated though that other employees have noticed the tardiness - so they might be on the lookout for "clues" as to why this person is being treated differently. To protect employee confidentiality you could get it installed in a bathroom usable by your employee, but not the one right next to them. This assumes though that there is more than one bathroom in your workplace.

Hope this helps and Happy New Year to all!