‘The best employees are neurodiverse. Here is why.’ Is part of the series: Why DE&I helps your company excel.
An autistic salesperson? A bookkeeper with ADHD? No thank you, that won’t work. Right? Nope, wrong. If you want a great employee that is perfect for the job and puts in that extra mile for your company, that extra ‘need’ is the very reason why they will stand out in the best possible sense. Let me explain why.
Fuck Rain man
First of all: forget Rain man. Or better: fuck Rain man. Yes, there might be people like Raymond. But do you really think they would respond to your job advertisement? Neurodiverse adults know exactly where their strengths lie, and which job requirements might be too challenging. And therefore, will avoid. Same goes for people with a disability or who have a special needs child.
A chaotic environment, working on a project where tasks, goals or assignments change or get redirected every.freaking.possibility? Without clear directions? No person on earth will apply for this when it doesn’t fit their personality. That has nothing to do with being autistic or not. Actually: big chance autistic people will never apply for this in the first place if it doesn’t match their personality because they are well aware of their strengths and weaknesses. Fake it till you make it, is something they won’t do. If you ask for a team player, most ‘normal’ people will say they are, even when they are not. An openly neurodiverse person will never pretend to be someone they are not.
See order in chaos
Fun fact: most autistic persons can see perfect order in chaos. And might therefore be exactly who you need to lead an ambitious project where the desired outcome might be somewhat clear, but the road towards it isn’t. If it turns out that the desired yellow brick road is not the best road to Emerald City, they have no problem saying so and start from scratch.
Good chance by the way that the team member with an ADHD-personality will come up with a new road, or even more likely: a new transport idea to reach Emerald City. Coming up with out-of-the-box solutions is who they are. Doing the same meticulous task day in day out however? Sorry, that sounds really boring. Hence, we won’t apply for a job like that in the first place.
Having said that: both people on the autism spectrum or with ADHD have this super gift called hyper focus. Which means we can go into detailed, won’t-stop-till-it’s-done action-mode. Throw in a tight deadline and you’ll see most ADHD personalities excel!
Like me for instance. I write brilliant, super technical white papers for both the geek and the non-nerd in my hyper focus mode. But it’s the subject that makes that hyper focus possible. When it’s about life sciences, logistics, high tech, DE&I or sustainability I am able to hyper focus for hours on end writing the best possible article about it. Why? Because I love the subjects, like I love writing. Fashion, sports or camping? I happily refer you to another copywriter. Unless, of course, it has a science component.
Busy and quiet
A lot of ADHDers thrive in fast pace, last-minute, chaotic deadline environments, like the stock exchange, at a daily newspaper, the ER. That most of us thrive in chaos, doesn’t mean we all do. Or that we don’t like peace and quiet.
I love going to Amsterdam, the chaos, the noise, all the different people. I can write for hours when surrounded by it. Get the most brilliant new ideas. My son hates Amsterdam. Way too many stimulants. But, he can study books on the Financial Supervision Act with YouTube in the background. Which would drive me nuts.
Like ‘normal’ people no person on the autistic spectrum or with ADHD is alike.
Who is best suited for the job? Examples from real life.
Let’s do a quick game: I state the job, you can guess who was great at it.
- New sales project. Needed: a leader, who can oversee the project, come up with a strategy, enthusiasts his or her team members and can present the results. Guess who? Answer: That autistic, seemingly shy, nerd. Why: because he is really analytic, therefore sees what is needed and gets it done.
- Dispute between team members. Needed: Problem solver. Ideal candidate? Answer: That same autistic person. Hello analytic and emphatic brain who keeps eyes on the end goal but also sees what the individuals need!
- Technical copywriter for a whitepaper on software. The ideal person who can focus on a very scientific subject but also make it understandable for the non-nerd when necessary? Answer: Hello science loving ADHD-er with hyper focus mode.
- Business mentor. Needed: Mentor that can help starter entrepreneurs with their business plan and strategy. Who can help cut through the distractions, keep you enthusiastic and help set up a solid business route. Answer: May I suggest the above mix of autism and ADHD?
- Insurance specialist. Needed: specialist for the difficult cases. Answer: hello autistic person who finds every little detail just as important and therefore knows all the details or will dive into the case till he does.
- Last minute overnight project? Needed: a quick thinker that works well under pressure and thrives when working on tide deadlines. Answer: the adrenaline loving ADHDer.
Afraid your ADHD employee won’t be able to sit still and focus on that one task you hired them to do? Or that your autistic employee won’t talk to anyone? Don’t worry, you might be careful selecting the candidates for the job – neurodiverse are just as careful to apply for a job. If it doesn’t meet their needs, they won’t apply in the first place. If it does, they go all in. The fact you saw beyond their quirkiness, makes them even want to give extra.
Want a great employee that is perfect for the job and puts in that extra mile for your company? Get a neurodiverse person on board.
Writer, nerd, speaker, mentor