Managing Neurodiversity - Getting the Best out of a Talented Workforce

Managing Neurodiversity – getting the best out of a talented workforce.

Last week my colleague and CEO Nicola James wrote a great piece on the link between neurodiversity and stress in the workplace. I was really interested in how neurodiversity can cause stress not just for the individuals, but for their managers and colleagues too.

Here at Lexxic, we don’t just support people with neurodiverse conditions in the workplace, we work with their managers too. Effective management of neurodiversity, (once it has been properly assessed of course), is a really important element of enabling neurodiversity to flourish at work. We have specialist modules on our e-learning platform Neurotalent Unlocked to support managers of neurodiverse teams, but as a starter, here’s a few top tips to get you thinking. Some will work for everyone – not just neurodivergents !

Create structures with clear instructions

Sometimes there is that monumental task in front of you and you just don’t know where to begin, so you just avoid it – we’ve all been there! With neurodiversity, a lot of tasks can seem like that, so it is helpful if managers can support them to break down projects to smaller tasks to be completed in order. Written step by step instructions are best, as is checking in that they are clear and understood ‘In our experience, neurodiverse individuals welcome this approach as logical and helpful. However, of course, the best approach is to have an open and honest conversation and ask the individual how best they prefer to receive instructions.’

Formatting

Sometimes the way information is presented can be a barrier to neurodivergents. Large amounts of text, a lot of white or pale text on coloured backgrounds, and information presented in a non-linear fashion can be really challenging for neurodivergents. The creative energetic presentation of some in-depth data that breaks up ‘death by PowerPoint’ in a meeting, might leave your neurodiverse team members confused and unable to follow the information and structure. I’m not saying the creative presentation shouldn’t happen (no-one needs death by PowerPoint), but make sure the information is also provided in an easy to digest format for those who need it.

Speed of work

Due to their diligence and attention to detail, (why do you think neurodivergents make such good coders?), some individuals with neurodiverse conditions may need slightly longer than others to complete work. Such attention to detail might require slightly more time for an individual to complete a task, but it an investment worth making – once done the task is completed to a very high standard.

One to one time

It seems obvious, but the best thing a manger can give a neurodiverse employee is adequate one-to one support. Of course, all good managers do this with their employees, and as a result they flourish and develop within their roles. In very busy times, or in fast-moving teams though, the weekly one-to-one can sometimes be pushed back – ‘Do you have anything urgent you need to raise? ‘, ‘No, me neither and my diary is jam packed today – shall we do next week? You can of course grab me anytime if you need anything.’ A week rolls into two and suddenly there is stress and anxiety because the mechanism for planning and setting targets has been lost and for the individual the day-to-day has suddenly become a massive insurmountable task again.

Let me know what you think of these tips, and even better if you have put them into practice, let me know if they have worked!

#empoweringneurodiversity

Aidan Healy