Tag Archive for: Workplace Needs Assessment

A blog about services

For employers

Workplace Needs Assessment

This is for individuals who are having difficulties with everyday tasks in the workplace and aims to make recommendations to help improve the effectiveness of the individual.

Neurodiversity Awareness Training

An introduction to neurodiversity that will help people understand the various neurodivergent conditions such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, autism, dyscalculia and ADHD.

Leadership Coaching

This supports leaders in their thinking journey and is especially useful when considering neurodiversity within the workplace. This coaching can be focused on supporting leaders from neurominority groups.

For individuals

One-to-one Coaching

This service helps neurodivergent individuals deal with everyday life more effectively. It is designed to build on existing skills, and introduce new ones focused on improving workplace effectiveness.

Technology Mentoring

Assistive technology mentoring is about helping you understand how technology can solve your workplace difficulties. What’s important is finding solutions that work for you in your workplace.

Workplace Needs Assessment

This is for individuals who are having difficulties with everyday tasks in the workplace and aims to make recommendations to help improve the effectiveness of the individual.

Accredited courses

Dyslexia Champions™

This program equips individuals to be good listeners, approachable, knowledgeable and impartial and will help them become ‘qualified to guide’ colleagues to support neurodivergent conditions.

Neuroinclusive Practice™

This program is designed to equip leaders, line managers, supervisors and HR personnel to ‘spot the signs’ and be able to effectively manage and support neurodiverse staff in the workplace.

reasonable adjustments

Six reasonable adjustment examples

Have you ever wondered what a reasonable adjustment is?

Here are six recent examples from The Neurodivergent Coach’s work. To protect identities, names have been changed.

1. Dealing with overwhelm – reasonable adjustment

Alex was utterly overwhelmed. His main complaint was that he was overwhelmed daily, with too much to do and no idea where to start.

Working with Alex revealed that he required regular breaks in his routine to reset, as he learned to manage his energy levels and begin to approach tasks confidently. This developed into how he managed his calendar, scheduling extra time at the end of meetings to recharge and making this time non-negotiable. This allowed him to fully reset and be his best, most present self, especially when feeling overwhelmed.

2. Fogettory – reasonable adjustment

The most common trait I hear when assessing neurodivergent individuals is their struggle with short-term memory.

I recently worked with Paula, who had an influential job at a UK university. Her role involved interacting with different people and producing detailed reports on academic papers. Paula explained that she often forgot what was on one screen when she flicked to another. Paula had been working on her laptop for extended periods and found it frustrating and exhausting to remember what was on the previous screen. For Paula, the solution was to increase the number of available screens. She started with one extra screen and then rapidly grew to two, meaning she could lay out all the information she was working on simultaneously without printing it. She could highlight and reword areas without fear of losing where she was.

Screen real estate matters!

3. Meetings, meetings, meetings

John described how he spent most of his time in meetings and often came away stressed, frustrated and unable to see how he had contributed well to the meeting.

Working with John, it became clear that it was not John’s issue. The problem was in the structure of the meetings in which he was being asked to participate.

Often these meetings were ad hoc without a clear agenda, and from John’s perspective, he didn’t understand why he was there. Working with John and his line manager, we created a new process where the organisation implemented structured meetings that included an agenda and a clear indication of what was expected of everyone who attended.

This helped John feel confident about why he was there and what he would be expected to do. Interestingly, fewer meetings took place as an additional benefit, and fewer people were involved because the meeting organisers were forced to take a long hard look at who needed to be there and why.

This example highlights why neuroinclusive workplaces are better for everyone.

4. No place like home

Alice hated doing detailed work in the office as too many distractions took her away from the task she had to do. This ultimately meant she was not present when she needed to do her work. This was compounded by the expectation that she should be sociable in the office.

Working with Alice quickly revealed that she required a dedicated space to complete her work when she needed to concentrate. She also needed to know what was expected of her when she went into the office so that she could prepare to interact with colleagues and participate more actively. This looked like agreeing to three days working at home and two days in the office with the flexibility to change based on business requirements.

We discussed this with her manager to find out what the expectations were when she was in the office, as there were a lot of unwritten rules about the company culture. It was agreed that Alice would arrange to catch up with two colleagues when she came into the office. These meetings could be set up in advance with a clear outline of what they would discuss. In Alice’s case, it gave her a natural springboard to be her best at work.

Rules of engagement are essential!

5. Open plan is sometimes like having no walls on your toilet

Adrian worked in an open plan office as part of a large county council. His work was quite often sensitive, and Adrian often used dictation as part of his work. He also experienced distractions from people moving around and from conversations in the office. Adrian described being in an open-plan office as, “going to the toilet and there being no walls”. He felt unable to be his most effective work.

The adjustments for Adrian included working part of his week at home, and when he was in the office, there would be a space available where he could work quietly — enabling Adrian to do his best work.

Open-plan offices have their place, but if you’re easily distracted or need to undertake sensitive work and use tools like Dragon Dictate, they can be an incredibly noisy and unpleasant place to work for neurodivergent individuals.

6. Changing the communication channel – reasonable adjustment

Sarah worked in a busy publishing house where she was in charge of a large team. Because of the high turnover of staff and the complexity and types of projects she had to interact with her large team regularly, helping them understand what to do next.

Often a request would come in over Messenger, which would end up as a lengthy conversation where the other party still didn’t understand what to do. Sarah recognised that many of these conversations would be better over video or face-to-face. However, the organisation’s culture didn’t seem to make this accessible. Sarah’s adjustment was to clarify what questions needed a video or face-to-face conversation.  Then to give herself and her team permission to communicate clearly that they needed to have a physical meeting instead of chatting over Messenger. They could switch back to another channel if a conversation wasn’t necessary.

Changing channels with permission was crucial to ensuring they understood their tasks and improved communication.

These are some of the recent reasonable adjustments I’ve seen through my work. I’ve not mentioned specific conditions because cooccurrence is the rule rather than the exception, meaning that someone with ADHD has a high probability of having autistic or dyslexic traits. It doesn’t matter what your diagnosis is, because each individual is different, and everyone will need a different adjustment depending on their strengths and difficulties. This can only be achieved through conversation, trust and willingness to learn and grow from the individual and the organisation.

If you want to know more about how to support your people in your workplace, drop me a line.

If you are wondering were to start, a good place can be a Workplace Needs Assessment.

Find out more here.

dyslexia

How well does your workplace fit you if you have dyslexia?

Let me introduce you to Sarah, she has recently finished university and started working for a large retail bank in the UK as an Account Manager. She is responsible for developing clients for the bank by introducing them to the bank’s products and helping them understand how these products can make their businesses work better. Sarah’s role involves a large quantity of writing proposals in addition to producing other written materials.

Sarah was diagnosed with dyslexia at school and as a result, had some help so that she could study effectively and pass her qualifications. This help continued through university but since leaving university she has been able to cope without any help.

Unfortunately, in Sarah’s current role things started to get a little bit difficult as she is struggling with spelling and punctuation, in addition to remembering all the tasks and actions that she is given by her boss and team daily. Fortunately, when these issues were flagged to Sarah’s HR department, they immediately recognised it would be appropriate to ask Sarah what was going on. As a result, Sarah shared some of the tasks that she was finding difficult so the company initiated a Workplace Needs Assessment.

A Workplace Needs Assessment

An assessment that should be carried out by a qualified Workplace Needs Assessor who looks at an individual’s workplace, role, job description and tasks. Then working with the individual to make suggestions called Reasonable Adjustments.

Reasonable Adjustments

These are adjustments that can be made in the workplace to help people who have difficulties completing their everyday tasks. As an employer there is an obligation to provide these if you know, or could be expected to know, an employee or job applicant has a disability.

For Sarah to have this assessment, she did not need to have a formal diagnosis, she just needed to recognise that something was not working for her in her workplace. This assessment helped Sarah understand some of the difficulties she was facing. It also helped her understand some of the strengths that she offered to her workplace.

A vital part of the Workplace Needs Assessment is to amplify strengths and manage the difficulties of the individual.

Sarah’s employer had a legal responsibility under the Equality Act 2010 as Sarah is a neurodivergent individual who has a substantial and long-term condition that is covered under the act because of the following wording:

You are disabled under the Equality Act 2010 if you have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities.

This is important as Sarah’s Workplace Needs Assessment suggested a large range of different technologies along with some workplace coaching. In Sarah’s case however, several of the pieces of technology that were suggested did not work with the systems used by her employer. This resulted in a large amount of stress and anxiety for Sarah as she felt it was her responsibility to make IT work. Sarah’s manager tried to support her in this implementation but unfortunately was unable to make any headway in a reasonable time. In Sarah’s situation, the stress and anxiety got to a point where she was unable to continue working and had a prolonged period signed off sick from work.

I would like to make it clear Sarah’s is not an isolated case, implementation of help can cause even more stress and anxiety sometimes making the issues an individual faces far worse.

This unfortunate situation illustrates the need for a joined-up approach to reasonable adjustments within the workplace. It is vital when technology solutions are suggested that they work with the existing organisation IT infrastructure and policies. In Sarah’s particular case this situation could have been remedied very easily by having an IT representative involved in the process to ensure the technology suggested would work with the existing infrastructure. This is unfortunately overlooked in many situations causing a large amount of stress and anxiety for the individuals involved who are asking for help.

The final component is awareness within the organisation of the impact change has on individuals with neurodivergent conditions. What is often not recognised is that any change can be stressful and anxiety-inducing. To help alleviate some of this it’s really important that everyone within the organisation has an appreciation of what neurodiversity is and how it can impact their colleagues.

Some ways to help avoid this situation include:

  1. Creating a list of approved applications that IT are happy with will work within the organisation’s infrastructure and fit within the organisation’s policies.
  2. Making sure supervisors/managers are spoken to as part of the assessment process.
  3. Having a dedicated IT contact who can support the implementation of assistive technology.
  4. Ensuring that all members of the organisation have attended neurodiversity awareness training and are aware of who to speak for support.

If you would like to know more about Workplace Needs Assessments and how to implement them effectively within your organisation, please get in contact.

Being Neurodivergent at work

Being neurodivergent at work

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 key clients, as well as building key relationships that have helped his employer increase their revenue. Unfortunately for Paul, as his responsibilities have grown so have the number of tasks 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 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 worked 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 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 over a problem, 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 here, 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 coaching sessions have finished. This is really important as it gives an independent sounding board for advice and support as you progress on through your career and a place to talk through your successes and any potential help you 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.

dyslexic

How does a dyslexic person fit in at work?

Have you ever stopped to think about who you are and what you are doing? It’s a big question!

I now identify as being neurodivergent and dyslexic (along with a few other traits), but this wasn’t always the case.

I have worked across several different professions including sales, marketing, business development, technology, and fundraising. What I have recognised over this time is that you are not the job you do, but instead the skills, experience, and attitude that you bring to that job. This can mean you can perform well in many different roles, bringing new and more effective approaches to age-old problems.

There is a flip side. Sometimes it can be hard to fit in, understand alien processes and feel that you are not accepted as part of the organisation you are working for. You may have felt like this at certain points in your life, but for some individuals, this is an everyday occurrence and something that stands in the way of them progressing at work. This is something that I experienced first-hand. Not being able to work effectively, struggling with my short-term memory and ability to process information and as a result not being able to perform effectively at work.

What does a dyslexic diagnosis mean?

Getting a dyslexic diagnosis helped me understand some of my points of frustration including how I thought. I recognised that some of the things that were difficult are to do with how my brain works. For example, thinking big, having big ideas and thinking outside the box are strengths of mine, but areas of difficulty include getting these ideas down on paper and remembering them. This doesn’t mean I don’t have a lot to say, and it doesn’t mean that I can’t actually put it down on paper, it just means the process is really difficult and as a result is something that I have avoided for a long time.

Workplace needs assessment

After diagnosis, I was assessed by a workplace needs consultant who took the time to understand how my job worked and what help I might need. This resulted in a number of recommendations including strategy coaching and various pieces of assistive technology. With associated training, it enabled me to manage some of the things I found more difficult far more effectively and to amplify my strengths. After being through this experience I recognised that this is something I wanted to help others with, bringing not only the skills I had gained in coaching and training but also adding on top my real-world commercial experience.

So ‘The Neurodivergent Coach’ was born, an organisation designed to help individuals and organisations amplify strengths and manage difficulties so that neurodivergent people can be the assets that they were always meant to be. We offer support around coaching, technology training and workplace assessment. What is important in all this is that it is focused on the individual and their needs so that they can develop and be effective at work.

If this is something that has impacted you or one of your team, you might like to know that there are several different ways that you can get help.  Please drop me a line. It would be great to talk further.