ADHD in the Workplace — Center for ADHD Awareness, Canada

Center for ADHD Awareness, Canada

CADDAC provides a well-written set of insights and tips about ADHD in the workplace, an overview of how ADHD affects people at work, workplace accommodations and strategies, and career choices for people with ADHD.

Special Note — they offer a Guide for Employers, excerpted here:

Many adults with ADHD perform their jobs extremely well and find that some of their ADHD traits: high energy, problem solving, creativity, and being able to hyper-focus, are significant benefits in their chosen career.  For other adults with ADHD, some of their ADHD symptoms may cause difficulties in the workplace. Gaining an understanding about ADHD as an employer and allowing your employee to implement simple strategies is often all that is required to successfully satisfy both parties and increase job performance. In some cases additional accommodations are required, but these need not cause undue hardship for the employer nor inconvenience the employee or their co-workers.

 

 

 

Impatience

impatience adhd zen pirsig
“Impatience is close to boredom but always results from one cause: an underestimation of the amount of time the job will take. [F]ew jobs get done as quickly as planned.

“Impatience is the first reaction against a setback and can soon turn to anger if you’re not careful. Impatience is best handled by allowing an indefinite time for the job, particularly new jobs that require unfamiliar techniques; by doubling the allotted time when circumstances force time planning; and by scaling down the scope of what you want to do.

“…[O]ne of the first warning signs of impatience is frustration at not being able to lay your hand on the tool you need right away. If you just stop and put tools away neatly you will both find the tool and also scale down your impatience without wasting time or endangering the work.”

Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Scanned from my 1985 paperback copy, which teaches me new things every time I open it.

“Stop Talking”

stop talking business card

I wouldn’t give one to a stranger, but I’d gladly get one from a friend.

I ask clients and colleagues to interrupt me if I’m going on too long, and I’ve teamed with colleagues to interrupt each other* if one of us is hogging the floor, talking at our clients instead of conversing with them.

Facts to remember:

  • Other people need to speak.
  • We need to listen.
  • Bite-sized statements are easier to digest (and easier redirect if they’re on the wrong track).
  • Not everything needs to be said right now, if at all.

“Stop talking” is a welcome interruption when requested in advance.

*It helps to use nicer words than “stop talking” or “STFU”. ☺

“Focus…Means Saying No” — Steve Jobs

People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.

— Steve Jobs, Apple CEO (Apple Worldwide Developers’ Conference, 1997)

Face Away From Distractions

Meeting at a restaurant?
Face away from distractions:
other tables, the windows,
the bar TV.

Be the guy on the right, focused on his lunch mates. Not the guy on the left, staring at the steak.

Bonus tip:
Eat a snack before the meal so you won’t focus too much on the food.

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Photo credit: Phillip Capper, used under Creative Commons license.

Let Other People Stop You

Give your colleagues the power of No!
They’ll keep you in line.

“Don’t let me go to lunch with you!” 

Tell your favorite lunch-mate that you can’t go out because you have to finish a task. Later, have them tell you how awesome it was, so next time you’ll plan ahead.

“Don’t let me sign up for anything at today’s project meeting.”

Tell your colleague to poke you if you start to accept any new tasks or responsibilities. They’ll probably poke you harder than you like, but it will be worth it.

“Don’t let me leave my office unless I’ve handed off the mailing list.”

Tell your assistant to block the door unless you’ve finished the task. Let them tackle you if you try to escape.

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Photo by Planetbene, Creative Commons License

Progress: a Four-step Cycle

adhd coaching process

Here’s how we make progress in a four-step cycle:

  1. See and understand

  2. Plan and design

  3. Do and observe

  4. Evaluate and repeat

Best Career Advice: Fires and Followup

In Forbes, Kristi Hedges shares her top-ten tips in “Executive Coach Reveals Best Career Advice Ever

By chance her first two tips are very relevant to executives with ADD.

Fortunately, our ADD makes first tip very easy for us to start:

1. If you see a fire, run into it.

…in chaos, there is opportunity. Most major career accelerations happen when someone steps into a mess and makes a difference. In the technology sector, people will remark that one year in a start-up is like five years in an established company. There’s ample opportunity to stretch your wings, wear many hats, and create a name for yourself when there’s not a set plan to follow. You can find the same opportunity in any organization, if you seek it.

Remember that you also need to create a good name for yourself. Run into the fire then do something useful.

Hedges’ second tip, alas, is a lot harder for people with ADD:

2. Follow up.

If, as Woody Allen made famous, 80% of life is showing up — then 90% of career success is following up. Our organizations are rife with lack of accountability, whether by intention or incompetence. Be the person who meets deadlines, holds others accountable, and heck, even remembers to say thanks when it’s due. Following through on your commitments is trust-building, and the opposite erodes it quickly and indelibly.

The good news is that we can learn to follow-up. That we can build systems (and use other staff) to help us do this “90%” success factor. It’s hard (and it requires us to make choices on how much we take on, as we learn to budget how much time it takes to do things completely). And we can do it.

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Want to read Hedges’ other eight tips? Check them out here.

Executive Coaching Makes You Stronger

Here’s what public CEO’s want to be coached on and what their boards want them to be coached on:

Take a long look at the list. Which ones look like priorities for you? Which ones would your colleagues (and maybe customers) want you working on?

Consider how ADD (and your other traits) may influence your performance in each area.

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Read more here at “Research: What CEOs Really Want from Coaching“, by Gretchen Gavett, Harvard Business Review, 15 August 2013