Radical Candor Podcast

Don’t Be Suspicious … Get Curious 5 | 14

On this episode of the Radical Candor podcast, Kim and Jason reach into the Radical Candor digital mailbag to answer a question about what to do when an employee starts calling in sick on the regular. Kim and Jason roleplay the situation to get to the bottom of why someone might be pulling a disappearing act.

Listen to the episode:

Radical Candor Podcast Episode At a Glance


@iamthirtyaf *coughs into phone* *makes voice even nasal-ier* *apologizes profusely* #wfh #fyp #millennialsoftiktok ♬ original sound – ThirtyAF


The Question:

I am the Director of IT and manage a small team of 8 IT professionals. I’ve read your book, follow your podcasts, and I use what I learned to good effect but now I have a tricky situation where one of my engineers of 4 years has been calling off sick regularly — 2 days every 4-5 weeks — and it’s affecting the productivity of the team.

How do you think I can approach this conversation without making them feel that I don’t care about them? We work in an agile shop so I could give them hard deadlines and then focus on it in a binary way — either they are making their deadlines or not — but that seems like I am targeting them.

I do weekly check-ins with this person and the rest of the team so there is good communication, I just feel like they don’t realize that calling off with almost no notice, is affecting the team and frankly, I question whether they are really sick but of course that just stays in my head. Any advice you can provide?

Radical Candor Podcast Checklist

Radical Candor Podcast Team


  1. Get curious and ask questions before you go down a rabbit hole of suspicion about why someone is calling out repeatedly. Don’t assign blame. Have a compassionate conversation and come up with a solution together that’s best for everyone. Set up a time to check in again in a few weeks or months.
  2. Provide clear guidance to your team about how to communicate time off, both sick time and vacation time.
  3. When in doubt, reach out to a professional for help.

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Radical Candor podcastThe Radical Candor Podcast is based on the book Radical Candor: Be A Kickass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott.

Episodes are written and produced by Brandi Neal with script editing by Amy Sandler. The show features Radical Candor co-founders Kim Scott and Jason Rosoff and is hosted by Amy Sandler. Nick Carissimi is our audio engineer.

The Radical Candor Podcast theme music was composed by Cliff Goldmacher. Order his book: The Reason For The Rhymes: Mastering the Seven Essential Skills of Innovation by Learning to Write Songs.


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