Enrich your company through neurodiversity
Are you a manager who would like to benefit from the autism advantage?But at the same time, you are unsure about the demands placed on you and your company?
In this article, we will explain how Specialisterne consultants can solve actual tasks and also provide you with the tools needed to implement neurodiversity in your team. In this way, you can feel safe when hiring neurodivergent employees in the future.
A short definition of words
Neurodivergent means that a person has a brain with atypical characteristics, e.g. autism, ADHD, epilepsy, etc.
Neurotypical means that a person has a “normal” brain.
Neurodiversity means that a group consists of both neurotypical and neurodivergent people.
Management coaching makes it feel safe to be the manager of neurodivergent people
When you buy consultancy guidance from Specialisterne, you do not only get a consultant with specialised competencies. You also get management coaching from the employees at Specialisterne.
Bina Hjorth, commercial manager at Specialisterne, has many years of management coaching experience:
“When I am out coaching, managers often come up to me afterwards and say: “Now I understand it!”. Many managers – even experienced ones – might feel insecure because they do not know what it means to be neurodivergent or to have a diagnose, or what that means for them as managers.”
Therefore, Bina Hjorth’s task is to understand the context and the task to be solved by the consultant, but also to grasp the organisation and the department in which the employee will be working. The manager might need to adopt some new points of awareness or a different way of planning the tasks.
Management coaching provides the managers with a “tool box” to be used when co-operating with and managing neurodivergent employees and the teams that they take part in. During the initial phase, Bina Hjorth co-operates closely with both the manager and the consultant. In her experience, the employee quickly settles in if the environment offers insight and an understanding of needs and potential challenges.
On-boarding with no risks
“That is the reason why we have what we call an “on-boarding model” with no risks. Within this model, the company task is solved as of day 1. And if it does not work, we will just stop.”
In this way, the consultancy guidance from Specialisterne is as risk-free as possible for the company hiring competencies from Specialisterne.
But more often than not, the employees and the manager are so happy with their external consultants from Specialisterne that the consultants are “on-boarded”/hired by the company. And Specialisterne are ready to support the company all the way.
From consultant to employee
Specialisterne is not a typical consultancy firm; rather, they are always happy to see their talented employees move on to work for the companies.
Bina Hjorth explains:
“Standard consultancy firms do not want to lose their talented consultants. But here, it is just the opposite! Because the goal of Specialisterne is to find work for as many neurodivergent people as possible so that we can create more neurodiverse teams that will add value in new and effective ways.”
For this reason, management guidance and coaching is a central part of Bina Hjorth’s work. Because she knows that these tools create the foundation for good, neurodiverse teams at the workplaces.
Management guidance and coaching
Very often, the most important aspect of management coaching is making the manager understand the needs of the neurodivergent employee.
According to Bina Hjorth’s experience, the work must make sense to the consultant and he or she must be able to solve the task as properly as possible:
“Our consultants like to work on something that makes sense to them so that they feel that they are making a difference. But what might make sense to you or to a neurotypical employee does not necessarily make sense to a neurodivergent employee.
Because they place so much emphasis on solving the task properly, neurodivergent employees are usually both conscientious and detail-oriented. That means that the manager must reserve a bit of extra time when introducing the task, defining the work, answering questions and explaining the context. It might also be necessary to dedicate some extra time for continuous follow-up.
This management style often has a positive effect on the rest of the team because many employees will perform better when given clear guidelines and well-defined tasks. And that leads to good results.
Neurodivergent employees shed a light on a need that others might also have but which is not always fulfilled”, Bina Hjorth explains.
This extra time investment at the beginning will bring you, the manager, future benefits because the neurodivergent employee will be able to solve similar tasks quicker and more precisely once the task has become routine.
Awkward feedback is the road to development
Once your neurodivergent employee has created a routine, you, the manager, will receive feedback on errors, weaknesses or unnecessary, time-consuming routines – but also on ways of optimising the task and doing it in a more efficient way:
“The autistic brain is kind of lazy so it wants to find a way of doing the task easier and quicker. And it also detects alternative routes and creative solutions.” This is the experience of Bina Hjorth.
Although this might seem a bit awkward at the time, it is actually a present for you as a manager because you now have an employee who is able to challenge “the way we have always done it”. In the end, you will benefit from more efficient problem solving.
The positive affects of using a neurodivergent approach to problem solving do not only provide an advantage to problem solving within the company. They also benefit co-operation within the entire team and department.
Neurodiversity in a team benefits everyone
According to Bina Hjorth’s experience, the broadness of a diverse management style can benefit the entire team because it creates more open and precise communication:
“We see and are told that much of what happens between management and neurodiverse employees influences the entire team. Very often, the output is clearer and more precise communication. Neurotypical people are more fluffy and then they are given a task, they might guess what the manager is after. The neurodivergent employees ask more questions because they want to make sure that they solve the task properly.“
Bina Hjorth explains that all those questions might be annoying at that time. But they drive the process because they dig deeper.
Often, the neurodivergent team members will communicate precisely and specifically, benefiting their neurotypical colleagues by also making them communicate in a more precise manner. And that creates openness and more effective problem solving at the same time:
“Neurotypical people often hide stuff under the carpet because they are afraid of ruining the mood. But these people will just call a spade a spade. Sometimes, the things that neurotypical people are thinking will be said out loud. This might be liberating and releasing. And if the manager is able to handle such communication, it is good for the entire team. In fact, teams often laugh a lot more!”
Diversity is needed for optimal problem solving
Bina Hjorth concludes that diversity is a competitive advantage. In her experience, some managers unknowingly hire people who are just like they are. But luckily, many managers are now aware that they need a range of different personalities to cover all areas:
“We need various competencies for various tasks. And I have noticed that many managers are starting to look into this.”
That is why Specialisterne are proud of being part of creating space for diversity within the Danish companies – finding work for one consultant at a time and, in the long run, hopefully for several million neurodivergent people across the world. In this way, we create value for our society, the companies and, not least, for the individual.
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