Utilizing Your ADD Employee
Many people find it amusing that my husband works for me as my personal assistant. I find it amusing too, most of the time, but there is an added pressure in leading your spouse, especially one that might have a touch of ADD, or at least has the ability to easily get sidetracked on the little tasks that he needs to complete for the day.
Here's what I learned from working on the ground floor, about how to most effectively work with ADD. Disclaimer, this is not therapy or medical advice. These are flat out things I have learned from being in the field with this one particular person who gets side-tracked easily.
Set clear expectations with some space. When someone suffers from being easily distracted, it is a bad idea to overwhelm him/her with too many plans, projections, and ideas. Explaining the big picture, with all the side branches and details, is just a maze for them to get side-tracked in. How this is going to work, and how that's going to work, and oh, what are you going to be doing about this and that? can go on forever. It's best to make things easy. I like to give one task a day to my husband, with a simple thirty-second explanation of why it is very important. I have found it is necessary to give him plenty of space to complete it.
He is a lot more detail oriented than I am and will notice a lot of flaws he becomes absorbed in along the way. Just planning on things coming up, and keeping in mind that he will want to focus here and there, and allowing time and space for this, makes it so he doesn't become frustrated with too much pressure to get the job done and gives me the benefit of having items addressed and resolved that I would never have thought to pay attention to.
Structure is critical when working with a person with ADD. They need scheduled check-ins to make sure they haven't wandered too far from the task. I loosely check-in first thing in the morning, noon, and toward the end of the day.
When you check on the ADD, you are checking-in on several areas:
- the progress that they made
- that they are on track, and if they need any additional support
- that they aren't spinning their wheels
My husband is so good at researching the details of the project. Every now and then there are so many details he gets swallowed up by them.
He needs a firm hand in guiding him to make a decision and move forward with the project. This spinning in the details is a common trait that does have positives. My husband is determined to learn everything that needs to be known and to make the best educated decision.
It is up to the leaders to see the positives that the ADDs are bringing and to capitalize on them. The boss's job is also to be sure the "researching" does not go on too long, so that it will not impact: the company negatively, his job performance, and ultimately him.
I have found leading an ADD employee can be tricky, but does bring a lot of positives, so long as a solid structure is in place, space is allowed for them to not feel too constricted, and solid balance is set between letting their skills shine, but not getting carried away.
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