A voice for living well with Type 1 Diabetes

Yesterday was our company’s monthly management offsite meeting and, of course, we started with an ice breaker. This one was more thought provoking than most … here’s the question that was posed:

“What advice would you give to a new manager of people?”

Here’s my answer:

“Other than their spouse/significant other and faith (if they have it), an employee’s manager is the most influential voice in their day, week and month. Being a manager is both an honor (earned) and a responsibility.  The responsibility includes empathy and experiences.  Empathy is not sympathy, but rather the ability to engage and understand an employee’s view of the world and their work; their perception of their ability to perform their duties; what they want in their career.  Once you have that, then you can share experiences that help their journey (not yours).  It’s important to understand that a manager is now part of new team … and a manager should know who their new “A” team is and the rules and roles within it. Start by agreeing on expectations for your people’s roles. Then move with questions … they encourage listening and two way conversations (directives often end with silence and create distance in a relationship). Finally, I would  encourage new managers to find a mentor that can provide empathy (defined above) for you.”

What’s this to do with type 1 diabetes?

As I thought about it, quite a bit!

  • Our spouses, significant others and faith are major influencers in our lives that include diabetes.
  • Our diabetes managers are important voices and influence how we feel about living with the Big D. Diabetes managers are our medical professionals. Unlike work, we select them and our evaluation should include Endocrinologists and Educators that display empathy … yep, understanding our current view of managing diabetes and our goals (without judgement). Then sharing experiences that will help our journey, not theirs.
  • We should all know who our “A” team is for managing our type 1 (*).
  • We’re better with mentors that can provide empathy for our life with diabetes.

So there you have it … a meeting icebreaker with lessons for living well with diabetes!

(*) For me it’s my wife, son (he he’s also a type 1), endocrinologist & educators.  Members of my B team include friends with type 1, a select group of diabetes themed web sites, conferences, JDRF connections, and reps for medical device and pharmaceutical companies.