50

I have been working at this company for over 2 years. I always had issues focusing at work, but I always managed to get work done on time (this is when I worked at the office, sometimes working overtime to compensate my low performance). The company is happy with me, but with the current pandemic I have been working remote from home and it is taking a serious toll on my ability to focus, to the point that I'm missing deadlines and it looks like I don't take work seriously.

Some days ago I went to the doctor and I was diagnosed with ADD (attention deficit disorder) and I'm taking medication since then (I'm starting to improve now).

I have a performance review in the upcoming days with my boss and I'm not sure if I should tell him.

EDIT: Thanks for the help guys, I cherry picked a bit from each response. I think the best option will be not to disclosed it unless it's necessary.

  • 13
    Broadly speaking you should only share what you need to share. If you tell them about your ADD, do you have some adjustments you would like them to make to accommodate you better? – Tymoteusz Paul Sep 1 at 9:21
  • 9
    Oh and most importantly, what country are you in? – Tymoteusz Paul Sep 1 at 9:32
  • 5
    I'd be cautious, perhaps avoid giving them a big-chunk label, and try to look at it from their perspective: they are busy, and need a job done. They may have preconceptions and/or a poor understanding of what ADHD is, and may not want to study it. Or, they may be supportive. Can you present this as needing some specific accommodations? As a note, ADD was named before they knew anything about it; there is no deficit of attention. I think it should be Attention Direction Difficulty. – Technophile Sep 1 at 18:28
  • 3
    Note on terminology: There used to be two conditions: ADD and ADHD, where the additional "H" was for hyperactivity. More recently it's become common to refer to both conditions as ADHD, even if there's no hyperactivity. – Nat Sep 2 at 13:05
  • 2
    I tell all my co-workers about my ADHD, not because I think it helps, but because I know I'm a competent worker that always gets all my work done. I think it's my personal responsibility as someone with this disorder to help destigmatize it. Officially telling my boss or HR though? That doesn't seem necessary, unless you need some assistance from them. – Erin B Sep 2 at 13:25
84

No. In general, avoid revealing your disabilities and shortcomings unless they grant you legal protection.

In an ideal world, the employer will understand you and handle this in a perfectly professional manner.

But in reality, disabilities, especially mental ones come with a plethora of stigmas, exaggerations, misinterpretations and misunderstandings. Your boss may start attributing your otherwise normal mistakes and under performances to your condition.

If your condition is improving then it is especially unnecessary to reveal it, you will create unnecessary complication that can get very political.

| improve this answer | |
  • 7
    Thanks, I think this is the safest option, I think it' better to only disclose it as a last resource. I get along very well with my boss, that's why I was thinking about telling him. But I fear he could judge my future performance based on this. – Artyom Petrov Sep 1 at 13:19
  • 9
    "unless they grant you legal protection" - it's not just about legal protection, but also about using it as justification to ask for reasonable accommodations (which a reasonable employer should be happy to provide, although possibly without you even having to reveal your disability, and a less reasonable employer should provide anyway if there are laws requiring them to do so). – Bernhard Barker Sep 1 at 20:27
  • 6
    +1, People with disabilities are often heavily discriminated against in almost all walks of life and almost everywhere, its just invisible to people who don't know the victims. – Mark Rogers Sep 1 at 22:49
  • 1
    But in this case telling the boss about the ADD also provides an explanation for the temporary drop in performance with an assurance that things will improve. Without that information, OP may well get a worse performance review as the boss is likely to assume that OP is just slacking off or being careless. – bob Sep 2 at 17:51
  • 1
    @Bernhard I wouldn't rely on laws too much, especially anything related to discrimination, they are often very subtle and hard to enforce so authorities rarely bother. And legal tug of rope is always more damaging to average joe, even smallest company can afford top notch lawyers and tank economical damage if they lose. – Terry Glebnerr Sep 8 at 12:45
17

At the performance review put a positive spin on this. You had a problem, you got it diagnosed and are fixing it. You expect things to improve due to the treatment and have ideas for changes you could make at work to address the issue. Everyone faces challenges, what matters is how you rise to them.

In the EU and the UK (at least until brexit hits) your employer must make "reasonable accommodations" for any disabilities you have. If there is something your employer could do to help with your condition it is worth asking them to do it.

| improve this answer | |
  • 6
    Re second paragraph: equality act 2010 in the UK is not related to the EU, so Brexit won't change a lick about it. – Tymoteusz Paul Sep 1 at 10:08
  • 3
    Much as I share your fear that brexit might create risks to workers' rights, when making this particular comparison, it's worth remembering that the UK legislated to require employers to make reasonable adjustments for disabled workers five years before the EU did (Disability Discrimination Act 1995 in the UK, directive 2000/78/EC at EU level). (Although I realize that the parliamentary Conservative Party now is a very different beast from the parliamentary Conservative Party in 1995.) – Daniel Hatton Sep 1 at 13:21
  • 1
    @TymoteuszPaul It's not quite true that the Equality Act 2010 is not related... a lick to the EU. The Equality Act 2010 is a unification of several earlier pieces of UK legislation, and some of those earlier pieces of legislation (but as I mentioned above, not the most relevant provision for the purposes of this discussion) were direct transpositions of EU directives. – Daniel Hatton Sep 1 at 13:46
  • 5
    It seems likely that as the economy goes down in flames under a double brexit/COVID recession a lot of rights will go up in smoke with it. – user Sep 1 at 15:26
  • 2
    @PaulD.Waite Watch out for the possibility that laws (including primary Acts of Parliament) may be changed without a vote in Parliament, because of the Henry VIII clause in section 8 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. – Daniel Hatton Sep 2 at 16:59
7

Having several disabilities myself, and working with other people with disabilities, I've found that companies are willing to work with you if you show that you are willing to help yourself.

First, determine if your performance issues have been noticed. If management blames the performance hit to the remote work, and is still satisfied with your performance, then do not mention it. Any improvement from your treatment will be likely be ascribed to your learning to adapt. We have that with people in general.

Talk to your manager and ask for feedback.

If you trust him, confide in him, tell him about your difficulties and treatment and then ask him if he thinks it should go to HR.

If you don't trust him, set up a meeting with HR and notify them of your diagnosis, and the steps you are taking to ameliorate your problem.

Familiarize yourself with the laws of your country/state and see what protections are in place for people with disabilities so that you are aware of your rights in case you need to build a file and contact a lawyer.

If you have a history of satisfactory performance, management may be somewhat forgiving, as literally everyone is having issues with the lockdowns, but only to a point. You are getting out ahead of this by seeing a doctor and getting treatment, which is good.

| improve this answer | |
  • 2
    An ADHD coach is also helpful. There are techniques for time management etc. – Technophile Sep 1 at 19:26
4

This hits close to home. I'm going to chime in with the other answers since it seems they haven't mentioned yet one particular angle that I think is quite important.

I agree with @ImmortanJoe that you should avoid telling your employer, management chain, and/or coworkers, unless you are very comfortable with revealing that.

Depending on your location (it's better in states/countries with stronger disability protections), this may be something you do in fact want to bring up with your HR department. This is much more challenging to navigate and requires "reading the room" as some HR folks are very understanding and accommodating, and others are mindless corporate drones with no conception of what it is like to be neurodivergent. In theory they are supposed to be confidential, in practice, well, people gossip. But, if you can open up to HR about this, it can be a huge benefit for getting accommodations and bulwark against hits to your career.

If you decide that isn't the right choice, there is another very powerful tool in your arsenal without tipping your hand: COVID. Employers cannot reasonably expect every employee to take WFH in stride and maintain productivity. People have kids, pets, distractions, and a blurred boundary between work and play. So it ought to be reasonable to go to your manager and tell them frankly, "work from home has been impacting my productivity" and work out some solution. They want you to be productive. You want you to be productive. There's gotta be a compromise in there.

Our company does a daily "health attestation" survey using Google Forms for anyone who needs to go into the office - basically the usual questions "do you have symptoms, have you been potentially exposed, etc". Employees follow the usual precautions, wear masks if you are in a room with someone else, wash hands frequently, the whole nine.

Maybe you can start by having one day a week in the office and use that as your "power day". I tend to get a lot done when I can leverage hyperfocus and just grind through todos with no distractions for 10-12 hours, then do a lighter week.

| improve this answer | |
4

Being diagnosed with ADHD 12 years ago and living in Brazil, I have a very different opinion from most answers so far.

I was finishing college when I was first diagnosed, and about a year later I started going to interviews for internship.

Whenever I had a direct interview with owners or direct managers, I made sure to tell them I had ADHD and explain the good and the bad sides of it, also telling them what medication I was taking and what exactly it does or does not. (I wouldn't mention anything when talking with some random HR or recruiter)

Right from my diagnosis I decided I wouldn't pretend to be something else, and anyone interested in maintaining a relationship with me should know about it.

Of course, that doesn't mean I wore a sign saying I have ADHD or mentioned the subject to random people or acquaintances. But whenever any aspect of my condition had a direct effect to people that have to interact with me on a daily basis, I would tell them about it and explain what exactly it means.

I can't imagine having to come up with excuses to coworkers whenever my condition had any effect on my performance. As time goes by, I think all those excuses may start to sound like lazyness or lack of responsibility, and I couldn't bear the idea of people thinking I didn't do something because I didn't care.

Coming clean can also have some other positive aspects, like avoiding anxiety and burnout from not being able to do something you are asked for and keeping it to yourself.

I ask for help whenever I have trouble with work, it doesn't matter if it's related to ADHD or not, but saying exactly what you can or cannot do at the moment can help a lot. Sometimes this help comes as a 10 minutes or so conversation. More often than not, what is really causing me trouble is the anxiety of not being able to deal with ADHD as I think I should. Once the anxiety is dealt with, I'm able to handle the ADHD and finish the work by myself.

One advice I give you is to read about what exactly means to have an ADHD brain. I don't consider it to be a disability, but a condition that I have to learn to live with. There are pros and cons, and you can learn to make the most of it. And make sure people also know about the pros, for example, if you managed to make something incredibly complex in record time because you hyper focused.

In short, I can't help you with the legal aspects of it and I don't know how people deal with mental conditions where you live, but I can tell you I was always honest about it on my work relationships, even when people had never heard of ADHD before, and it never hurt me in any way. Quite the opposite, I have always found people interested in learning more about this condition and being understanding of my shortcomings. Never once have I used my condition as a scapegoat, or regretted telling people about having it.

| improve this answer | |
0

Reveal things, but reveal them in the safe way.

For reasons outlined in ImmortanJoe's answer, it may be unsafe to share information that you believe you have the widely disregarded "Attention Deficit [Hyperactivity] Disorder".

Instead, simply say, "I have encountered a physical, medical problem. However, it has now been diagnosed and is being handled by me following the professional oversight I obtained."

That will be widely respected. A person who is interested in you (whether they care about you, or are just nosy) may ask for more details. However, at least in the USA, you should be positioned well by simply saying you've chosen not to disclose such private details.

So, yes, disclose. But, just be smart about it. Disclose enough so people understand the situation very broadly, using language that sounds rather respectable to established traditional professionals, and absolutely do not disclose the details that are most likely to lead to some people condemning you. (Even old-timer employers, who might not value some "medical" aspects of certain conditions, will typically respect a desire for privacy of details for anything diagnosed as a medical condition.)

| improve this answer | |
0

ADHD got a lot of bad optics in the 90s. There are a lot of people who will look at you even casually mentioning ADHD as you making excuses. Many people think it's not real or is not actually a serious disability.

Even people who do "believe in" ADHD often do not understand what it actually entails or how it affects you. Part of this is that there are multiple subtypes that, from an external perspective, look like very different behaviors. Even within a subtype, ADHD affects different people in different ways.

And furthermore, there is debate in the medical community over various aspects of ADHD, including how it should be classified (should it be Executive Function Disorder instead?) and how it should be treated (meds or no? CBT?).

So, there is mixed messaging, and even those with good intentions can have faulty ideas about ADHD. Sometimes what you are saying will conflict with their understanding of ADHD, they will think you are lying about your disability status, and they will hold an even worse opinion of you than those who don't believe in it at all.

These risks outweigh the benefits of coming out about your ADHD.

| improve this answer | |

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .