The day in and day out problems of ADD/ADHD can become magnified in work situations. Our weaknesses are often what are the basic prized attributes of a good employee. The first one that comes to mind is time. Getting to work on time, not being late. That is often just a basic (reasonable) expectation of employers and a hard thing for many people with ADHD to achieve. For many people with ADHD, they try very hard to get to work on time but it just doesn’t happen. Some feel as long as they get the work done, why does it matter what time they get to work. I think for many employers it is about equity. The other employees are making it to work on time, so should you. They, the employer, are not understanding that ADHD is a real impairment. Furthermore most employers don’t know which employees have ADHD because it is the general rule of thumb not to disclose.
Another area of difficulty is project management. When you are given multiple projects and different deadlines. Prioritizing and managing when you are going to do what, how long each is going to take and what is the best process for each project can be difficult to discern. These issues involve executive function skills (see previous post on executive function skills) which are markedly weaker for individuals with ADHD.
Impulse control or blurting can be another minefield for people with ADHD. This is when the person with ADHD impulsively acts without thinking or blurts out something inappropriate spontaneously without thinking through the ramifications. This is how many ADHD people lose their job by quitting in the heat of the moment rather than taking a deep breath or some down time before addressing a hot issue they may have with their superior or employer.
In general, people with ADHD don’t like to be told what to do. A sense of resistance arises within them if it isn’t done in an appropriate manner. This is problematic, especially when you first start out in the work force and are at the bottom of the power structure. All you get is people telling you what to do. In addition, having ADHD often means having difficulty with short term memory so remembering instructions that are quickly given can be difficult thereby adding additional frustration to the ADHD individual in the situation. Sometimes this can be viewed as failure to act quickly by the employer.
These are just a few of the issues that come up in the work environment for someone with ADHD. What comes up for you? Are the issues related to time, organization, memory, planning, relationship or other things? I know for me, working alone a lot of the time, simply keeping motivated is hard. I have to remember that all the little pieces help add to the bigger picture. I make lots of lists and try to make appointments with myself for tedious tasks that need to get done. It helps to think about how good I will feel when the tasks are done to motivate myself. And of course, a coach helps me to organize, prioritize and set goals that keep me moving forward.