Have you ever been faced with a problem that you just can’t solve? You don’t know where to start, and have no idea what to do next? Being Neurodivergent at work can feel like this.
I’d like to introduce you to Paul who has been working in advertising for 5 years. He has been struggling with managing his diary and tasks for most of this time with many near misses and close shaves. Paul was diagnosed with dyslexia at school but since starting work hasn’t felt that he needed to talk about it and to be fair has done pretty well for himself in winning some key clients as well as building some key relationships that have helped his employer increase their revenue. Unfortunately for Paul as his responsibilities have grown so have the number of things he needs to do, and he can’t hold them all in his head anymore. In addition, because he is now more senior within the organisation and these errors are getting noticed by others, his capability is being brought into question.
This situation came to a head in a recent performance review with Paul’s manager and Paul was alerted to the fact that disciplinary steps may need to be taken if he was unable to sort the situation out. At this point, Paul opened up about his dyslexia and as a result, he was offered a workplace needs assessment. As a recommendation of this assessment, Paul was offered some workplace strategy coaching to help him with his task management.
Strategy coaching is a form of coaching that works with individuals on a one-to-one basis to help them solve problems using skills that they have learned before. What is different from traditional coaching is that there is also a mentoring component to help them understand how their condition affects them.
Being Neurodivergent at work – Understand the condition then build the strategy
The coach worked with Paul to understand how his workplace and job role worked along with the responsibilities and tasks that he was frequently dealing with. Paul was able to talk through the many solutions that he tried over the years along with some of the frustrations that he had with sticking to a solution consistently. The coach was then able to present a couple of different strategies to Paul and they work together to work out which one would be most suitable for him. This is where coaching crosses over with mentoring and this is entirely appropriate in this situation.
The goal is to help an individual, build strategies that work for them. In addition to giving them the skills to adapt those strategies when situations change. A key part is building a process of learning, playing with and then stress testing strategies while reviewing and reflecting on progress.
Paul ended up selecting a To-Do List app that enabled him to focus on his tasks separately from other items like meetings and calendar events. This was important for Paul as he had often struggled to differentiate between items that were time-bound and items that he had scope to do when he was ready. The other key part of using the app was that his To-Do List was available on several different platforms meaning he could access it when he wanted to. The other big bonus was Paul was able to also manage his social and home life within the same app reducing his stress and arguably saving his relationship, as he had forgotten birthdays, anniversaries and many other key events.
NB: his partner regularly talked about Paul’s memory as a ‘forgettory’.
Part of this coaching also looked at how Paul could adapt what he’d learn in the future as his role developed and things changed because self-sustainability is essential, and it is vital that individuals like Paul are able to know where to get help and how to adapt the help they already have to meet future demands.
Improving mental health and performance
There is a pool of evidence that suggests strategy coaching improves employee mental health along with retention and career progression within a business. Strategy coaching is not a sticking plaster it is a toolkit that equips individuals to become the absolute best they can within the workplace. Clients like Paul who have undergone strategy coaching report a positive impact on their confidence at work along with an up lift in their perceived personal effectiveness. This positive feedback is also supported by their immediate line managers as they reflect on the impact of strategy coaching on their team members. You will be pleased to know this was also the case for Paul’s line manager.
“The coaching I received around task management has helped me keep my job and improved work to the point where I was able to go for promotion to the next level. This has been a complete lifesaver for me, it’s helped me to do the thing I love without fear of making mistakes.”
Paul – Key Account Manager – Advertising Agency
The story doesn’t end there Paul is likely to need additional support and help at different times throughout his career. This is why The Neurodivergent Coach clients can get in contact at any time to follow up after the first coaching session has finished. This is really important as it gives an independent sounding board for advice and support as they progress on through their career and a place to talk through their successes and any potential help they might need in the future.
Ten years on
I experienced strategy coaching first-hand over 10 years ago and although the sessions were quite different to what we deliver now the impact they have had on my career and personal development are incredible. They have enabled me to do things that I found exceedingly difficult to the point that I would avoid them. In fact, without strategy coaching, I certainly would not be running my business today and I certainly would not be able to write this blog post.
If you would like to know more about how strategy coaching could support, you or someone within your organisation please get in touch.