There are an estimated eight million adults in the United States alone with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), some diagnosed and some not. With so many people having this condition, it is likely you will have to manage someone with it at some point in your career. With legislation like the the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) detailing treatment of employees with disabilities, and some people with ADHD are protected under the act, it is beneficial for you, your employees, and your company to learn to manage people who have it. Besides, most of these strategies work well with all employees and can increase efficiency and workplace satisfaction. There is literally no reason not to try these.
What Is ADHD?
Before talking about management strategies, let’s take a moment to define what we are talking about. ADHD and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) are names for developmental disorders that are characterized by one or more of these traits:
Note that not all people with ADHD have all of these, some may have only one or two. Also, with treatment such as medications like Adderall and behavioral training, some people may show little sign they have this condition. Patients can consult with doctors to find the best pathway for treatment, and they can even ask about adderall discounts, too.
Another caution: under some circumstances, employees with ADHD are protected by legislation like the ADA. Contact your HR department immediately if you feel there is any possibility you are entering an area governed by these laws. They will be able to guide you and assist you in complying with the rules and regulations.
1. Breakdowns and Deadlines
People with ADHD have trouble with time management. The farther out a deadline is, the more likely it will be missed due to procrastination and distraction by other tasks. Breaking down a single large task into several smaller ones allows tight deadlines to be set, based on the completion of the smaller amount of work. This discourages procrastination and promotes completion of one task before moving to another. This will benefit all employees by providing a sense of progress and accomplishment.
2. Distraction Free Environment
Have you ever heard “Headphones save lives”? It’s a truism in industries where concentration is critical, such as software development. For people with ADHD, distractions are harder to filter out, so providing headphones to mute the surrounding office noise is a simple strategy to provide them with the focus necessary to complete their tasks. Going further to create work environments with limited distractions can yield even more benefits. It should go without saying that all employees would appreciate a quiet and serene place to work, rather than one that is noisy and chaotic.
3. Load Balancing
The accurately estimating the time needed to complete a task can be difficult in many industries. ADHD makes this even harder and many people with it have a tendency to overcommit to multiple tasks, loading themselves down with far too much work to accomplish.
Monitoring this for your employees can be an excellent way to properly distribute work and give a greater velocity to your staff’s progress. Tools can range from simply recording task assignments on paper or on a whiteboard to having an integrated software system where a manager can tell at a glance what is assigned and how long it should take them.
4. Emphasize Strong Points
ADHD may present some challenges for people with it and for their managers, but some aspects of it give real benefit. The ability to hyperfocus on a problem is a common trait. This can allow an employee to dig quickly into a task and accomplish it in far less time than expected, working straight through lunches or meetings.
Emphasizing the value of the ability to finish quickly and to work through distractions is much better for employee morale and performance than dwelling on missed meetings. Try to do the same with all employees, making sure they know why you value them and what you see as their strengths.
5. Closer Supervision and Mentorship
A simple tactic for dealing with ADHD employees, and any other employee for that matter, is to pay attention to what they are doing. This isn’t micromanagement, but simply being available to answer questions and aware enough of what they are doing to offer advice and direction when you realize it is needed.
Providing a mentor for employees is also a good way to pair up people who have different strengths and weaknesses. Putting a very organized and schedule conscious person with one who has trouble managing their time allows their abilities to be used in concert, shoring up weaknesses to the benefit of both.
As you can see, some simple management techniques which can benefit all employees are of extra value when managing employees with ADHD. There may still be difficulties, but by using these you can avoid some of the possible problems and get much greater performance from your employees. Always remember that is a good manager’s goal, to get the most from their staff while helping them excel. With good management, everyone benefits.
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