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Managing and Supporting Employees with ADHD

Impactful management methods to set team members with ADHD up for success

by Nikhil Bendre

Ensuring that HR managers and business owners are able to build and foster a healthy working environment is the foundation for any successful organization. This sounds like a simple task, but there are lots of specifics that need to be addressed to make sure you are adequately supporting each and every one of your team members. Some of these specifics entail becoming educated on the necessary information about employees with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and implementing measures to effectively support them while remaining sensitive and inclusive. To accomplish this, you must understand the harmful stereotypes that people with ADHD face as well as common characteristics they may possess and challenges they may encounter. Then, you can derive impactful management methods to set your team members with ADHD up for success.

Common ADHD Stereotypes and Why They’re Incorrect

The following information is provided by the Attention Deficit Disorder Association.

  • ADHD only affects children.

There seems to be a widely believed, but incorrect, sentiment that ADHD is only found in kids and that it is simply a phase to be outgrown. While some kids do end up outgrowing it, around 29% of those adults will carry ADHD symptoms into their older years. Unfortunately, over 80% of these adults also have at least one more psychiatric disorder in addition to ADHD, such as depression, anxiety, or substance abuse issues.

  • Those with ADHD are inherently less intelligent.

This could not be further from the truth. People with ADHD are often dismissed as less intelligent simply because they require different learning and working styles. Many people with ADHD are astoundingly smart, and oftentimes, even more creative than those who don’t have ADHD. According to the ADDA, “they’re also better at managing crises and are more intuitive thinkers.”

  • ADHD looks the same in everyone that has it.

ADHD comes in three different variations, each with its own set of characteristics. 

  • Inattentive: This variation is marked by a lack of attention-to-detail, difficulty following or remembering instructions, and being easily distracted.
  • Hyperactive-Impulsive: Classic symptoms include constant fidgeting, excessive talking, and the need to run.
  • Combined Type: This is a combination of the two listed above.

Workplace Challenges Often Faced by Those With ADHD

According to the Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) organization, there are some particular hurdles that people with ADHD often experience, specifically in a professional setting.

  • Distractibility.
  • Impulsivity.
  • Hyperactivity.
  • Poor memory.
  • Boredom-blockouts.
  • Difficulty with time management.
  • Procrastination.
  • Difficulty maintaining long-term projects.
  • Interpersonal issues.

Tips for Productive and Informed Management of Individuals with ADHD

  • Avoid overstimulation. Since distractibility is a commonly found obstacle, counter that by giving your team members the option to work in a more solitary environment, or even take their work home if possible. If your company is remote or offers a remote option, that would be a great solution!
  • Prioritize stress management and self reflection. Place an emphasis on relaxation efforts and communicate the importance of your team being in a peaceful state of mind. Outbursts can occur, so make your best effort to anticipate any potential triggers and eliminate them prior to them becoming an issue.
  • Breaks are not only good, but necessary. People with ADHD may have difficulty focusing on solitary or mundane tasks for hours on end. Encourage them to take a break when they need to – get a drink of water or coffee, take a little walk, anything to break up the monotony of the workday.
  • Use checklists. Memory is also a concern in this case. Utilize to-do lists so that your team can reference back to the objectives at hand if need be. This tip isn’t just specific to those with ADHD. Everyone lets things slip sometimes. Keeping a written record of your agenda can be a life saver!
  • Set project benchmarks. As previously mentioned, time management and maintaining long-term projects can be a pain point for people with ADHD. Think about mapping out benchmarks of what objectives need to be met by what date so that your team is never in the dark about what’s coming up and what’s expected of them. Also, breaking bigger projects into chunks simply makes them seem less daunting and easier to manage!
  • Emphasize open communication. Certain social interactions can seem challenging, especially with authority figures within your organization. It’s important that you relay to your team that they can come to you with any questions or concerns and that you will be there to support them throughout. Breaking down that superiority/inferiority complex is a great step to take in opening communication channels and making your employees feel comfortable socializing with people throughout the ranks of the company.

Understanding and catering to the needs of your employees is the cornerstone of employee morale and retention. Again, this may seem simple, but you can’t overlook the complexities of each individual person’s background and how it can impact their working style. Take the time to learn about ADHD, how it impacts adults in the workforce, and find out how you can best support your own ADHD team members with the utmost respect, patience, and cooperation. As a result, you’re sure to build incredible professional relationships and lock in the longevity of your team!

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