In the middle of a meeting, your colleague is so excited – as if he’d found the idea of the century – that he seems ready to burst and can’t help interrupting the discussion to share it… until he completely forgets why he was thinking about this in the first place. Since he joined the team a few months ago, you’ve often witnessed him, at his desk, hesitating between several tasks, in between frequent trips to the coffee machine. He also frequently shows up late to meetings – when he doesn’t forget them altogether – and yet you feel that he’s well-intentioned. Besides, you’ve also noticed that he brings something special to the team by being outspoken, dynamic and creative. Ultimately, you’d like to find a way to collaborate more effectively with him, but you’re not too sure youunderstand how he works.
Your colleague might be living with an attention deficit disorder, with or without hyperactivity, commonly referred to as ADHD.
ADHD is a neurodevelopment issue that comes with difficulty in filtrating ideas, behaviours and actions, which often leads to inattention, impulsiveness, and sometimes hyperactivity. ADHD mainly affects the executive function of the brain, which comprises all the processes that we need to complete a task. For example, writing a report requires us to organize and synthesize ideas, ignore the ambient noise, temporarily forget our personal issues, plan how we’re going to write from the introduction to the conclusion, while also keeping deadlines and the time required for each task into consideration. For most of us, these operations occur more or less automatically. However, for someone with ADHD, it’s not as easy.
The good news is that there are all kinds of ways to collaborate with these unique individuals, so that they can deliver their full potential in the workplace. This guide will help you better understand the cognitive functions affected by ADHD, and will give you tangible means to give your support.
As soon as you notice that someone is struggling to manage their time, to stay focused on the task at hand, or to control their impulses to talk or move. That someone can even be you!
You don’t even need an official ADHD diagnosis. The techniques we’re suggesting here can be useful for everyone, especially during intense moments where the stress and the fatigue among the team are as high as the number of projects happening simultaneously.
By clearly stating your expectations, whether it’s for tasks, deadlines, or behaviours, but especially by demonstrating empathy. Remember that it’s not a question of unwillingness, laziness or lack of manners, but an involuntary issue.
By being open with your colleague about the nature and reasons behind the process that you’re undertaking with them, before you start anything. We can agree that sometimes, you react very strongly and that you say things you don’t mean. I’d like you to allow me to point out, with humour, when I witness that you’ve gone a bit too far.
By empowering that person in the process that’s meant to help them, as their involvement is essential.