Forums

I have an employee who has told me that he has ADHD and everybody else can verify it. Given his job is to be a jack-of-all trades; how do I evaluate his performance if he is so easily distracted. Sometimes things don't get done and he trouble juggling more than one thing at a time.

I'm not sure if this is the right place to ask this question.

Any suggestions? I'm reading up on ADHD to get some suggestions.
Thank you,
Kevin

rwwh's picture

Why can't you measure his performance the same way as everyone elses?

HMac's picture

I agree with Rob.

You're not making any "accommodations" for your employee's "condition" are you?

Those quotation marks are VERY intentional - I assume that ADD/ADHD is NOT a recognized condition or disability in your company. Further, I'm assuming there is no formal accommodation to be made for him. If those are the case, there's no basis for judging him differently than others in the same role.

PS - "an employee who has told me that he has ADHD and everybody else can verify it" - that ain't grounds to treat something like it's a medical condition, unless you're working with a bunch of doctors! Be REALLY careful about acknowledging this supposed diagnosis.

Sorry if I sound like a hardass,

-Hugh

jhack's picture

It really shouldn't be any different than what you would do for your other employees. Set agreed-upon goals, then follow up. Determine strengths and weaknesses; play to their strengths, make sure weaknesses aren't "fatal."

John

tomw's picture

I'd say his evaluation is the same as everyone else's. Either he's delivering his results to the expected deadlines and quality levels or he's not.

thaGUma's picture

Wow, if ADHD is correct then you absolutely need to consider it. If someone tells you something you assume it is correct unless you have reason to suspect otherwise – and then you need to confirm that suspicion. You need to manage according to the individual’s capabilities – not the requirements of the role. If their capabilities cannot meet the requirements of the role then remove them from the role. (I will take cover now and wait for the brick-bats).

You have an employee who may have a condition that affects their ability to work. You have work not being done. The two may not correlate but I suggest you are not qualified to make that judgement.

You are qualified to gauge the employee’s performance against a fully-able employee and raise it as an issue.

You really need to get guidance from the company on this one.

In the interim, if tasks are not being done then increase monitoring. If the employee cannot handle more than one task at a time then reduce the number of tasks handled at any one time.

HR HR HR

Chris

MsSunshine's picture

Bottom-line: Like everyone else said, every job is not for everyone. Someone with ADHD can have significant strengths that should be matched to the job you want.

I have family and friends with ADHD. They can be extremely smart, creative, energetic etc. But multi-tasking can be an issue if they don't work on staying focused. I'm not a boss of one, but I'd imagine that I'd treat it like any other strength or weakness that people have. I.e. I have people working for me who maybe great at focusing on really detailed work but isn't as creative as one co-worker I know with ADHD.

As a manager, I'd help them work on understanding and improving their strengths. I'd make sure they weren't in a job where their weaknesses would be fatal.

P.S. There are lots of resources on the web to learn about ADHD if you want like www.nami.org. But I'd think I'd use regular methods you use with anyone to determine strengths because they do apply.

AManagerTool's picture

Picture an air traffic controller with ADHD. What would a handicapped performance rate be for that situation? I don't mean that to be demeaning but to illustrate the point that not all jobs can be staffed by all people.

HMac's picture

[quote="donnachie"]You have an employee who may have a condition that affects their ability to work. You have work not being done. The two may not correlate but I suggest you are not qualified to make that judgement.

You are qualified to gauge the employee’s performance against a fully-able employee and raise it as an issue.
[/quote]

[quote="MsSunshine"]As a manager, I'd help them work on understanding and improving their strengths. I'd make sure they weren't in a job where their weaknesses would be fatal.[/quote]

This is why I love these boards so much - you guys are so smart.

KS180: Chris really lays it out for you there, and Sunshine reminds us of the right strategy to use anyway.

I'd only add a caution - and I want to put this delicately - that you not give [i]too much credence [/i]to the problem, thereby legitimizing it. If this is entirely self-diagnosed by your direct, it could be a real trap for you to avoid. Do not appraise someone's performance with different standards based on their claim to have a medical condition. So unless there's documentation to support the claim, go slow.

-Hugh

stephenbooth_uk's picture

I work with people with disabilities, I am a person with a congenital disability (Dyspraxia).

First step should be to confirm that your direct has an official diagnosis of ADHD. Self diagnosis is not enough, even if they honestly believe that they have ADHD they could have another condition (e.g. Dyspraxia is sometimes misdiagnosed as ADHD).

Once you've got confirmation check if there is any law or corporate policies that might impact on how you work with this direct, and follow them.

After that set and agree goals with the direct and monitor them as you would anyone's goals. It might be that you have to set this person different goals than you would if they did not have a disability, it might be that you have to change their working environment (if distractions are a problem then put them somewhere where distractions are minimised, make the walls of their cube higher, put in sound adsorbing materials, make sure they've turned off their new mail announcements &c) and it might be that you have to reassign some duties or put them in a different job that plays to their strengths and minimises their weaknesses. Once you've made the necessary reasonable adjustments and set the goals, stick with them.

You may wish to coach on coping strategies

Having a disability does not automatically mean that you cannot perform as well as someone who does not have a disability. It just means that you might not be able to do certain things or might need certain aids to help achieve them. It might also mean that certain jobs are not for you.

My disability means that I cannot write, draw, play a musical instrument or touch type. It also makes it harder for me to remember names or instructions (I need both to written down) and means that I tend to be very literal in both what I say and how I interpret what others say (I've had to learn to take a step back before reacting to try to work out if what someone said was meant to be literal or not).

Stephen

KS180's picture

Excellent advice from all.

I will trust but verify. Also, need to make sure work is getting done and provide guidance. Part of the problem is everybody here acts reactively and it is driving him up a wall.

Just started here and he is looking to me to help calm things down but we are down 50% in IT personnel so it is a little crazy.

Time for me to take a step back before I react.

Thank you,
KS180

ctomasi's picture

I'm always so glad when I read the forums! Talk about good timing on a topic... I just got done doing a phone screening and the candidate mentioned he had ADHD. Not only that, but he went on to say what he does about it (write things down, follow up with people, etc.) I love it when they have an answer!

Thank you everyone for your input on this subject. I didn't think I'd need it so soon!

svgates's picture

Great discussion. My quick 2 cents as someone with a medical diagnosis of ADHD:

I've learned that ADHD is protected under the disabilities act; theoretically, I could ask my employer for accommodations and file suit if "reasonable accommodations" are not made. One suggested "reasonable accommodation" - a personal assistant assigned to me even though no one in the company has ever had one.

My theory: the larger the employer, the more real the risk of an employee suit under ADA or EEOC based on an ADHD diagnosis.

I've learned that ADHD comes in two flavors- primarily hyperactive and primarily hyperfocused. Some few are both; I happen to be the latter.

My theory: you'll rarely identify an adult as having ADHD based on some observation of "hyperactivity"; the behaviors you can observe you are most likely to characterize as disorganized, procrastination, and poor time management.

I've learned that ADHD is strongly correlated with very high to extremely high intelligence and/or creativity.

My theory: an employee with ADHD can be an incredible asset to the organization without over-the-top accommodations so long as the manager has enough insight to match the role with the employee's capabilities ... and the manager who does this well for all employees may never learn that one of them has ADHD.

I've learned that ADHD is commonly associated with chronic depression.

My experience: I am bright enough to appreciate how much more accomplished a person with my intellect could be. So yeah, I get depressed sometimes.

S~

US41's picture

A personal assistant? Not so much in my company.

You basically manage them the same way you would anyone else. If he performs, he performs. Does he accomplish objectives? If yes, then you're good. If not, then give feedback, measure some more, and eventually fire if not.

If the person does not meet the BFOQ for the job - the ability to perform the job themselves unaided, they are not reasonably qualified to have the job and I am safe in dismissing or not hiring that person. You do not have to provide them with a personal assistant. Companies are protected from undue hardship and unreasonable expenses.

I once interviewed a man with no fingers. No kidding. I asked him, "Are you able to type? How many words a minute can you type? How will you answer email remotely - we all use blackberries and are expected to be on-call 20x7. Can you use one or do you have some way to provide the same result?"

He did not have that ability. I decided that I would not hire him. I checked with HR, and they were firmly in my court. If he can't do what others do and his performance would be sub-standard, he's not qualified for the job. It doesn't matter why.

People with disabilities have to be able to perform on the job. If it means we scoot some cubes farther apart so they are wheelchair accessible, or raise a table up higher to allow a wheelchair under it, no problem.

But if it means that he can't actually do the job and perform no matter what we do, then BFOQ is not met and hiring or tolerating poor performance would not be required of us.

Ultimately, the answer is O3's, Feedback, Delegation, Coaching, Brainstorming, Hot washes, etc... as it always is.

I would temper those remarks, which focus on what is required, with what we as managers might be able to do to recognize strengths in people and accept certain weaknesses which are not highly impacting to our team's performance. It's not an easy road to walk - you can very easily go too far and the rest of your team will start to see "Mr. Special" as being coddled while the rest are worked harder than he. But I think that all strong people have some sort of baggage, and good managers are patient with that sort of thing when they can be.

I would suggest to any who are interviewing that you not announce during an interview nor at any time during your employment that you have ADHD or ADD. These are controversial "illnesses" and a substantial portion of the population does not believe they are real. Further, many of us have medical trouble after age 40 with all sorts of things. Your eyes are going, your bowels are irritated... there's no need to reveal these sorts of things about yourself. Doing so provides a label to others and curses you to live under that label and leave a negative impression about your potential.

Just take your meds, take your breaks, use Mark's advice, "I am so sorry, I have to take a short break" whatever you need to do to handle your illness or difficulties, and don't try to wear a badge that begs for special treatment.

The special treatment you receive will not be so special, in the end.

I learned this the hard way myself.

svgates's picture

[quote="US41"]I would suggest to any who are interviewing that you not announce during an interview nor at any time during your employment that you have ADHD or ADD. ... Doing so provides a label to others and curses you to live under that label and leave a negative impression about your potential.... don't try to wear a badge that begs for special treatment.

The special treatment you receive will not be so special, in the end.
[/quote]

Spot on!

mmartini's picture

I am going through these forums long after the original post, but feel this needs to go on record.

It can be a huge advantage if the person with ADHD manages the condition correctly.

For instance:

  • Persons with ADHD would be very good at a help desk.  New problem constantly, and as they are used to their own distraction, they are not necessarily freaked out by the constant change-up of problems.
  • High intelligence tends to come with the package
  • Someone with ADHD using tools to stay organized and deal with the condition can actually be better at detail and more organized than someone without ADHD
  • Hyperfocus is incredibly useful
  • Thinking outside the box

That said, I'd treat them just like anyone else as was stated above.  I'd find the tasks most suited to their skill set as you would anyone else.  ADHD does not necessarily mean poor performance or accommodation is required, and I wouldn't accept it as an excuse, I'd discuss itin the framework of opportunity to gain better skills and growth.  I'd give accommodation if asked for specifically (e.g. an office away from distraction, a planner, or a smartphone, or some ADHD folks have coaches).

MM

tomw's picture

Four years after the fact, it needs to go on record that you agree with everyone else?

Wow, and I thought MY ego got out of control sometimes...

falkb's picture

 

> Four years after the fact, it needs to go on record that you agree with everyone else?
> Wow, and I thought MY ego got out of control sometimes...

People do read old threads (I do). There is a search function for others in the same situation to find them later on. mmartini added good information. What is the problem? 

Put in a different way, the fact that there are managers with employees who have ADHD does not go away - in that sense, "four years after the fact" does not apply.

 

--
Falk Bruegmann
3-6-4-7

GlennR's picture

@Falk, I agree. (Definitely need a "Like" button on this forum:-)

naraa's picture

 Falk, Glenn, i also agree. Posting a comment here has nothing to do with ego. It has all to do with simply sharing.

Nara

tcarney's picture

I found this post while attempting to find information on what sorts of accommodations would be reasonable to request of an employer and when it would be appropriate to do so.  I understand that the original post was regarding performance evaluation and agree that results should be measured consistently and realistically.  There are a few ignorant statements (as well as some good comments) in this thread though that I feel could use some clarification though.  They are mostly from 2008 and while I hope people are better educated now I'm afraid that may just be me whistling in the dark.  I found some decent relevant information eventually at http://askjan.org/media/adhd.html

Re: 'recognized conditions' like mentioned here: [quote="HMAC"] You're not making any "accommodations" for your employee's "condition" are you?
Those quotation marks are VERY intentional - I assume that ADD/ADHD is NOT a recognized condition or disability in your company. Further, I'm assuming there is no formal accommodation to be made for him. If those are the case, there's no basis for judging him differently than others in the same role. [/quote]

[From linked article:] The ADA does not contain a list of medical conditions that constitute disabilities. Instead, the ADA has a general definition of disability that each person must meet (EEOC Regulations . . ., 2011). Therefore, some people with AD/HD will have a disability under the ADA and some will not.
A person has a disability if he/she has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having an impairment (EEOC Regulations . . . , 2011). For more information about how to determine whether a person has a disability under the ADA, visit http://AskJAN.org/corner/vol05iss04.htm.
[/article tidbit]

From there they go on to discuss evaluating what specific limitations they experience, how they impact their work, areas to explore to improve the situation, and suggest measuring the results for effectiveness and opportunities for further improvement.  They continue to enumerate a number of things that you can do to address each of the specific challenge areas that are common in such cases and give practical examples.

As I recall from the "How to Fire Someone (Well, Almost)" podcast, much of the responsibility for improving a poor performer's results rests on the shoulders of their manager.  The six steps discussed in that podcast could be combined with this other knowledge to help address some of the unique challenges encountered when trying to turn things around with someone with ADD/ADHD.  Coaching to teach/reinforce organizational skills, social skills, or ways to curb impulsivity are just a few examples mentioned in the article.

Nowhere does it recommend "special treatment" with regards to their performance or responsibilities.  Rather, it addresses how to structure the work environment, business tools, and communication for someone who functions _differently_ (not "worse") in a way that will let them meet those goals and responsibilities involved with a position they are otherwise qualified for.   We adapt our behavior toward people according to how we perceive them (and ourselves) within the DiSC model.  This is an a similar form of adaptation in that it takes differences in how someone operates at a cognitive level under consideration when we make our decisions about how to structure things.

Re:[quote="US41"]I would suggest to any who are interviewing that you not announce during an interview nor at any time during your employment that you have ADHD or ADD. These are controversial "illnesses" and a substantial portion of the population does not believe they are real. [snip] Just take your meds, take your breaks, use Mark's advice, "I am so sorry, I have to take a short break" whatever you need to do to handle your illness or difficulties, and don't try to wear a badge that begs for special treatment.
The special treatment you receive will not be so special, in the end.
I learned this the hard way myself.[/quote]

I'm so sorry that your lessons from the school of hard knocks have left you feeling this way.  I agree that it's definitely unadvisable to advertise your medical conditions or anything else that could be grounds for discrimination during one's interview process.  Beyond that, nobody wants a label, especially one that implies that you may be less capable than the next person.  It's unfortunate that some conditions are easy (in relative terms) to discuss and often generate a wash of support from one's friends on colleagues while others effectively place you in the closet to struggle alone.

That said, one has a responsibility to request the help they need to succeed. Sometimes that may involve a discussion with either your manager or a representative from HR to find solutions. Ideally one's benefit package would include insurance which would cover mental health services such as a therapist specialized in ADD/ADHD who could then contribute to the strategy and provide additional coaching outside of work. Drugs are not always enough.

Ignorant attitudes and statements which undermine the legitimacy of a patient's diagnosis produce part of the stigma that makes it so hard for people suffering from mental illness to get real help when and where it matters.  It's a counterproductive sentiment that impedes having an open conversation about how to realize the potential of someone in spite of some unique challenges.  ADD/ADHD has been well studied for decades, and I have yet to meet a medical professional that does not recognize it as a "real condition".

http://www.add.org/page/DEALING_WITH_OTHERS actually addresses the "controversial" opinions around ADD/ADHD better than I am prepared to do.

I'm not a lawyer or a doctor.  I "take my meds" and work harder than I can describe to manage my ADD.  I don't generally advertise it, nor use it as an excuse.  I've developed habits and tools, and am constantly refactoring my systems.  In the past I've "kept it to myself" and tried to pull myself up by the proverbial bootstraps, but it takes more than to "just try harder".  In the process I've had success and plenty of failures to learn from. 

Making it work takes support and understanding from your family, friends, and ultimately anyone you are going to have a meaningful relationship with.  I'll show up to work and try to be somebody better than myself every day, but the manager's who have gotten the most out of me are the ones who were prepared to discus my weaknesses and the challenges I face then find solutions together.  It's those relationships which have allowed me to grow, and I'll continue to seek them out wherever I find myself in the future.