Should You Disclose Personal Handicaps to Your Team?

Jeff Hamilton is a blogger for Psychology Today who writes extensively about his experiences coping with Attention Deficit Disorder.  In a recent post, Jeff discussed his decision to let a hiring manager know about his condition:

Typically, this was always something I kept in the closet, but I decided to change that this fall. With my blog going viral and my book published and now for sale, it was going to be hard to not easily discover my ADD with a quick Google search. So, during a job interview, the hiring manager and I had a comfortable conversation about ADD: the past, future and the successes I have had in learning to correct and manage it.

I’m Skeptical…

Maybe this kind of frank conversation worked out for Jeff, but I’m not sure the rest of us would experience as positive an outcome.  The truth is, your managers and team members mean well and I’m sure they’re very compassionate people, but at the end of the day, they want to believe that you can do your job as effectively as possible.  Disclosing long-term physical or mental health conditions might well serve to undermine this perception, and the next thing you know, they’ll be waiting for the handicap to trip you up.  If, as in Jeff’s case, your condition really doesn’t impact your work, then why do you need to tell people about it?

Jeff brings up another interesting point, and that’s Google search.  By publishing a book and a blog on the topic of ADD, Jeff made a choice to be associated with it throughout the online universe.  You should be doing regular Google searches for your name to ensure that you are comfortable with what appears and that it supports the professional identity you want to showcase.  Fortunately, unless you are a public spokesperson like Jeff, your personal health information should, for the most part, be Google free.

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