EMBRACING ADHD IN BUSINESS
There are millions of people in the world who have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and, to a large extent, the impact it has on their lives depends upon the community in which they live. ADHD comes with both strengths and areas of challenge, and it’s often the community that decides which traits are desirable, and which are not. Ironically, behaviours and capabilities regarded as an asset by some may be deemed as a liability amongst others. The number of people in South Africa affected by ADHD is an estimated three million across all nationalities and cultures.
Many people with ADHD have spent years knowing they should be doing far better; wondering why they’ve not been able to pull things together. They don’t know that they have ADHD, nor does their employer. They don’t recognise or understand their challenges and although usually bright, people with ADHD often lead frustrated lives of quiet desperation and underachievement.
Rising to the top
With help that shows them how to overcome their difficulties and builds on their strengths, they could become high functioning, dedicated and important members of staff. Often the bosses themselves have ADHD!!!
Imagine having one of these notables working for your company (they all have ADHD): Sir Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, Thomas Alva Edison, Prince Charles, Walt Disney, General George Patton, Galileo, and Michael Phelps (22 Olympic medals), just to mention a few.
Diagnosis of ADHD is based on various symptoms of inattention, impulsivity, and often high activity levels, all of which can cause upheaval in the person’s life. At the same time each of these symptoms has much to offer. The person who cannot pay attention at a boring meeting often is able to hyper-focus for hours on end when working on a project which stimulates them; In a crisis situation people with ADHD think quickly and often take the lead (Sir Winston Churchill); The over-activity pays dividends as they can continue with physical work long after others have crashed. Each ADHD person is different, depending on how the symptoms interact and affect them – and with a job tailored to their capabilities they can produce amazing results.
The quieter and dreamier people with ADHD are often described as having ADD.
Careers they choose
Especially if they need to be moving, people with ADHD don’t want to be tied to a desk all day, preferring to be out and about. They enjoy using their gifts of thinking on their feet or their (frequently) high verbal ability. They can make excellent salesmen, motivational speakers, trainers, radio announcers, teachers etc.
They can also be doctors, psychologists, lawyers, dentists, teachers, scientists, explorers, accountants and many more. Successful ADHD workers can be found in all fields. Some careers will demand a lot of determination and persistence, and this is where their ability to hyperfocus is extremely useful
Taking us into the future
They are also active in new areas of development, and as visionaries take us into the future: In this 21st century things are changing faster than ever before. There are constantly new situations and new problems to be solved, needing new ways of thinking. It was Einstein who commented “we cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them” - people with ADHD are usually quick and original thinkers, and often find new and unique solutions. Their creativity levels can be a great advantage to their company. Many of them are highly successful entrepreneurs.
Support and help
The help and support given to people with ADHD as children, sets the foundation for greater achievement in the future. Unfortunately there are many talented adults in the workplace, who have never had this support and never risen above their challenges. Some never will.
However it’s never too late for them to improve – for some a little recognition, help and encouragement is all they need:
At 32 Maxime was divorced, a single mother, had little support and even less money. She struggled to read - letters spread and merged into each other. Poor organisation skills just made everything even more challenging. She didn’t get on with her parents and saw herself as a ‘bad girl’.
Finally she spoke to someone who told her that she was not a bad girl. They explained that for her whole life she’d be dealing with the challenges of ADHD; that neither she nor her parents had ever recognised or understood why there’d been so much upheaval. No one was to blame and she was definitely not a ‘bad girl’, Maxime burst into tears saying that she’d waited over 30 years to be told she wasn’t bad. From that point onwards she started to take control of her life.
Maxime went on to enrol as a mature student at a University where she passed with top honours, and is now a remedial teacher helping others who struggle as she once did.
Russel Barkley, international ADHD expert, points out that people with ADHD usually have to overcome difficulties, and in the process they develop persistence.
Employers that understand the challenges of ADHD and is able to manage and assist employees with ADHD may find them to be amongst their best assets. They could be securing amazing skills for the company.
“It’s not about being different, rather [about] making a difference”. Queen Mokonoto
ADHASA making a difference
ADHASA, the Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Support Group of Southern Africa assists the community by providing understanding and insights into ADHD, how best to manage people with ADHD, as well as many practical easy-to-implement solutions to their challenges.
For nearly 25 years ADHASA has been helping the ADHD community with services including: dissemination of information, conferences, workshops, training, mentoring, and access to various professionals with skills to bring out the best, including Coaches, Counsellors, and Psychologists that are specifically trained to help ADHD people and those around them.
With the understanding, the solutions, coping skills and insights ADHASA has to offer, many difficult situations will become far easier to handle. Some can ever disappear. Companies have the opportunity to gain a deep understanding of their employees with ADHD, and how best to assist and manage them.
Companies will be in a better position to recognise the strengths of ADHD and use them to the benefit of both the company and the employee.
Education is key. Understanding employee’s needs is imperative nowadays in the tight fast moving economy. ADHASA holds seminars several times a year. Contact them on info@ADHASA.co.za if you need more information.
Book now for the ADHASA ADHD Corporate Conference to be held 30 May, and in collaboration with the Psychology Department of the University of Johannesburg.
Who should attend? HR Managers, HRD’s, Line Managers, Employee Wellness Coordinators, Supervisors, Team Leaders, Project Managers, Operational Managers