High on the long list of things no one told me about people managing is having access to too much information. When you are a boss, some of your employees will feel the need to tell you about their lives in full detail, particularly the illnesses that keep them away from work.
I’ve had plenty of employees with attendance issues I’ve needed to address, but I’ve never once asked for a full detailing of symptoms experienced. I really don’t want to know. That’s never stopped people from telling me.
I’ve had to perfect my poker face, so I don’t look as horrified on the outside as I feel on the inside when given all the gory details. I think I’m at a disadvantage being a female boss in this situation. I am sure many a female employee would be too embarrassed to talk about “feminine” problems with their male bosses. I, on the other hand, receive full disclosure about every menstrual problem experienced by some employees. If you are an employee out there, I truly don’t want to know anything about your cramps.
I co-managed an admin team once featuring an employee who could win a TMI award. Let’s call her Lucy. Every time she was away, she would leave me lengthy phone message describing each of her physical symptoms. One morning, this involved cramps and some disgusting gastro-intestinal issues. I knew she was one of the few employees who would not be embarrassed to tell anyone about her problems, and she technically reported to my new partner, Ryan. I got to work first and had a perfect view of his desk. I didn’t warn him when he came in; I just watched and waited for him to check his voicemail.
Yep, he got the same message. I could tell from the growing look of horror on his face as he listened to the two-minute description Lucy left him. He looked a little green by the end of it. He wandered over to my desk to tell me it was the most disgusting message anyone had ever left him. I told him Lucy missed plenty of work, so he had more of these to look forward to.
I think my worst offender was a call centre employee who was making a lot of bathroom runs one morning, and he decided to send us an email detailing his rash and, um, leakage issues. I still shudder when I think about it.