One of the most common sentiments that I hear from prospective employers is a hesitation of hiring neurodivergent people out of a fear of doing something wrong.
- Giving the wrong direction
- Selecting the wrong job
- Hiring the wrong person
These fears are all too prevalent and cannot be dismissed as mere excuses. However, I believe in harnessing that fear as a catalyst for change. Having worked closely with neurodivergent individuals for the past 7 years and collaborating with esteemed neurodiversity experts, I can confidently state that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to engaging with neurodivergent individuals.
Just like with neurotypical individuals, there is no definitive formula for the perfect method of communication, task delivery, or monitoring of comfort levels that can be universally applied to every individual. The best way to support neurodiversity in the workplace is by aligning with progress, not perfection.
Making progress necessitates a commitment to learning, continuous improvement, and a humble mindset. I recently had a personal reminder of this while working with a client. I asked him to “walk me through” the tasks of his job. Well, of course, once he heard this he immediately stood up, looked me in the eyes, and said “let’s walk.” I immediately realized the disconnect, took a moment to determine what exactly it was that I wanted to ask him, and said “I’m sorry, I said the wrong thing. Please tell me each step of your job.” Just like that, we were off and running (figuratively, I should mention).
These small adjustments require thoughtful consideration and vulnerability, qualities that are crucial for effective teamwork within any organization. Do not let the fear of imperfection stand in the way of these invaluable learning experiences.