Say you have a staff who is really good at their job but they have to be micromanaged to be efficient and your organization policy is really against micromanaging, what do you do?
— Moe (@Mochievous) December 8, 2020
While some might argue that “if they need to be micro-managed, then they’re probably not good at their job”, we need to take into cognizance the ones who know how to do the work, but struggle with time management, accountability etc.
Well fair point. They might be good at the technical aspects but lacking in other areas critical to being efficient at it for instance time management, accountability etc
— Moe (@Mochievous) December 8, 2020
Some have recommended hiring a middle-level manager to take care of such gaps, mentorship training etc., but a lot is left unsaid about those who struggle with issues like these, not because of incompetence, but because a difference in neurology make certain tasks a lot more difficult for them to handle (read up on executive dysfunction). Once in a while, they even get things done the proper way, and it worsens the situation, because they come off as lazy or without regard. Let’s take a closer look at this demographic.
A skilled neurodivergent person would be incredibly good at their job. They’d deliver excellent work done with thoroughness and precision, even under pressure, and on tight deadlines. The problem, is usually getting them do to the said work, and turn it in on time. Common flags include lateness, missed deadlines, self-criticism, a lot of apologizing.
Underneath the “wasting potential” is a self-critical person who holds themselves to higher standards than their organization probably does, and so explain why their work is almost always excellent. However, self-criticism opens the door to worry and anxiety, so they would obsess over doing “perfect” work, and miss the deadline. Or executive dysfunction was kicking their ass and they haven’t been able to start, or time blindness happened, and they lost track of the time they were meant to start, or the out-of-sight-out-of-mind syndrome that ADHD is famous for showed up, and they forgot the task existed, until they got queried.
The downside is that if not properly managed, the disciplinary actions could worsen their feelings and lead them into a downward spiral of self-loathing that puts them in a worse mental state for the current/next task (blame rejection sensitive dysphoria), and their work suffers.
While I know that it is tempting to want to fire such a person, please consider that you hired humans, not robots. Also, if properly nurtured, neuro-divergent people become some of the best staff you could ever possibly hire. Most of them benefit from unique accommodations, a tad more responsibility and a support team mate.
The pressure of responsibility and the support of a team mate would often help pull them through the lapses of executive dysfunction.
A supporting alternative would be to get clearer with deadlines AND the implications of missing the deadlines (not firing, but what it means to other staff/department/company). It also helps to give examples of what the finished product should look like/what it would be used for (again the principle of pressure of responsibility) or extend timelines by assigning tasks ahead of time (plan out the week/month for example)
If they (or the company) can afford it, suggest a productivity/efficiency coach who’s skilled at working with neuro-divergent people.
An alarming proportion of neuro divergent adults are undiagnosed, and it’s problems like these that expose them (or worse cripple their growth/careers). They have the skills/know their stuff, but unless effectively managed, may never grow into full potential
P.S.: If you need help structuring your business/workplace to help your staff be more productive, or get rid of this sort of bottleneck by training your managers/leaders to handle this sort of situation, please reach out or send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Jane Hadassah OLUWADARE