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I was recently diagnosed with a medical condition that may force me to take a 4-6 week medical leave. I have already been out two weeks under heavy pain medication while undergoing a battery of tests. The diagnosis was finally determined yesterday. i have spoken to work and my boss over this time but could only tell them my timetable to return was uncertain. I need to communicate my status to my boss and directs and would like to hear how someone has handled this conversation? How have you stayed in the loop during the disability leave?

I've been a podcast listener of MT since the beginning and thank M&M and everyone for their efforts in helping me become a better manager and leader.

tomas's picture

I had a somewhat similar situation when one of my directs unexpectedly ended up in hospital. She had a relative call to provide updates a couple of times a week. It was for a shorter period of time than you are talking about. If you are going to be medicated or undergoing major procedures and you have a relative who can handle it it would be a good way to go. Calling your boss while you are out of it on pain killers is unlikely to provide clear communication about your status, and also it shouldn't be something you have to worry about.

If the procedures are only minor, or perhaps one you are over the worst of it you could make the calls yourself. Your boss and co-workers generally want to know that 1. you are okay, and 2. when you will be coming back. (and whether you will have any ongoing limitations or requirements. How much medical information you provide is up to you.

Ideally the calls should be made according to an agreed schedule, to prevent your boss from getting antsy that he hasn't been contacted for a while. In terms of you staying in the loop, it depends on your medical condition but it may be that you really just need to be out of the loop in order to recuperate. If that is not the position, maybe someone can organise to pick up some work papers for you so you can stay up to speed.

tcomeau's picture

[quote="slippeDiSC"]I was recently diagnosed with a medical condition that may force me to take a 4-6 week medical leave.
[/quote]

First off, best wishes on getting your condition improved! Your username hints at what I know is a very difficult problem. I hope your plans for leave suggest you're on the path to better health.

[quote="slippeDiSC"]
I need to communicate my status to my boss and directs and would like to hear how someone has handled this conversation? How have you stayed in the loop during the disability leave?
[/quote]

I've been in this situation for shorter periods -- a few weeks -- myself, and have had colleagues and a wife out for 6-8 week periods in the recent past.

My first suggestion is that you not try to "stay in the loop." I've seen managers try to continue to run their organizations while on medical leave, in one case literally from a hospital bed. It doesn't work. The deputy left in charge feels second-guessed, the staff doesn't know who is really in charge, and the sick guy isn't focused on getting healthy so he can get back to work.

That said, review the "[url=http://www.manager-tools.com/2007/06/managing-through-a-personal-crisis-... through a Personal Crisis[/url]" 'cast. Try to sketch out for yourself what the duration and impact will be. Will you be "all better" when you come back, or will there be a lingering but modest impact for things like physical therapy appointments? Talk to your boss and your deputy (or peer who will fill in for you or whoever will be responsible for your team) about a communication plan, so that people will know how you're doing, and when you think you'll be coming back.

To answer your question directly, when I was out for three weeks, my wife called a couple of people in the office after my surgery to let them know I'd come through okay, and I sent a couple of emails each week until I came back. I didn't do any work, though I did try to follow the general news of how things were going.

When I was on the other side, for my wife's extended outage, I called her secretary after the surgery to pass along positive news, and made another call when she was discharged from the hospital. She called her secretary at least once a week, and called her boss a couple of times to let him know she was on track for coming back when expected. In her case there were several more weeks where she was off several hours during the week for rehab as well, which she communicated to her boss in person each week.

Finally, I encourage you to get well, and not try to hurry back to work. I've seen people try to come back too quickly, and take a lot longer to really get back. Get back as soon as you are ready, and make sure you are ready.

tc>