What your manager wants to know when you can’t come to work.

Video by Mamamia Women's Network.

Question: What are reasonable explanations for missing work?

Marie Stein writes:

As a manager and as a former corporate drone, I will tell you the best, proven advice on this that anyone ever gave me.

Skip the excuses, unless you have a personal relationship with the person to whom you’re providing the excuse to, and you feel you want and need to share it (your house burned down; family emergency; death), or unless it’s indicative of a potential continuing issue that you need help resolving or that could pose issues for others where you work or who you work with (such as a viral illness, or child/parent care issues).

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If you feel the need to lie about it, just don’t. Just say you need a day or took a day for personal reasons. (Even if it’s for an interview or a mental health day). It’s always better to tell the truth or say nothing at all, because, frankly, it’s noone’s business. Except for THIS:

Let someone know, as soon as you know you will be a no-show. “Something came up, it’s personal, I’m sorry, I can’t really talk about it. I should be back tomorrow”. And express your apologies. Once. To the person or persons who are most inconvenienced by your failure to show. Any more than that is too much. You have a right to your privacy.

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But, people are counting on you to show up. Whatever your personal agenda is, someone trusted you, hired you, is paying you to do your job. There are many, many unemployed people who would be very happy to do your work for you and get paid for it – even if you’re a sword-swallower in the circus or part of a street-cleaning crew – so respect that someone gave you a job and is counting on you to perform. They don’t care what your excuse is, they care about this:

1. If you’re OK;
2. How you’ve inconvenienced them;
3. If you’re going to make it up;
4. How you’re going to make it up;
5. If you’re worth keeping around, after it’s done.

At least, that’s the way I always thought about it.

I’ve sent flowers and cards to funerals, if I couldn’t actually attend; and driven by a assistant’s apartment, knocked on their door and left a note, to find out where the hell they were (on Day 2 of the no-show; Day 3 without communication at most places I’ve worked is formal grounds for termination).

how to say no
Don't call in sick unless you are sick. (Image via iStock.)

The other people I worked with at the time thought I was going a little far, and dismissed that person's behavior as simply irresponsible (which of course, and luckily, it turned out to be) but I don't care much for people who lie or who are irresponsible and I don't want them working for or with me.

I had a boss who drove out to find his employee on the Monday of a weekend party binge, after two days of not showing up at work, with empty bottles all over a trashed house, and the employee crazy-depressed. He called the employee's family for an intervention - but saved the guy's job, because everyone knew and recognised (except the employee) that if he lost his health insurance, he couldn't get or afford the help he needed. That's an excellent, compassionate boss, and I learned a great deal from him.

Unfortunately, though, he had a boss who was exactly the opposite, and who simultaneously would complain if someone was 10 minutes late for a relatively unimportant meeting, while passing notes/texting in Board meetings about the best new local bar to go to after the meeting was through (one of the best skills I learned in corporate America was the ability to read quickly upside-down).

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I'm a good manager, and I trust people to do their work independently; but I'm also a parent and a human being. I care a lot about the people who work for me and with me, because I can't get squat done without their support. If someone doesn't show up, and I don't get a call or email or message, I start to worry. It's a crappy, dangerous world out there, and bad things have happened, and I'll be damned if you work for me and something bad happens to you and noone finds you for days. I couldn't live with myself.

So, screw the excuse; just call in and tell people you have to take a personal day, and it's something you just can't talk about. You'll make up the work as much as you can when you're back.

Then go to the beach - and don't forget your sunscreen.

This post was orginally published on Quora and was republished here with full permission.

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