Mindset

Business psychology services

Business psychology services

In the previous two articles on coaching, I’ve explored goal setting and taking action. Now, I’d like to share another aspect of my work. That is, coaching neurodivergent employees.

How Is Coaching Individuals with Neuro-differences Different?

All coaching focuses on the individual; their aspirations, motivations, barriers and actions. Therefore, you may not think there is any difference when coaching an employee with neurodivergent conditions/differences. In many cases that is true, yet I do employ different strategies to support individuals with autism, ADHD, dyspraxia and other disabilities or differences.

Whilst we still focus on goals and actions, there tends to be a greater focus on:

  • Understanding the workplace, people and processes
  • Validating their perception and experiences
  • Exploring strategies to help them manage situations that they find challenging

If you have a neurodivergent condition, you may mask your natural behaviours around others to try to fit in. This can be exhausting. So, coaching provides a psychologically safe space to be your true self without fear of judgement. In this way, it is a time to be authentic. And, when the guards are down, it becomes easier to understand ways to build self-worth, gain confidence, address challenges and enhance well-being.

Supporting Inclusive Workplaces

A growing number of organisations are recognising that a diverse workforce is good for business. As a result, recruitment processes are changing to make opportunities accessible to people with neurodivergent conditions. However, it isn’t just recruitment that needs to adjust.

The work environment, unwritten office rules and social interactions can be challenging to understand if your thought processes and behaviours are distinct. For example, a neurodivergent employee might excel in consistently following your processes. However, they may struggle to understand when there are exceptions to these rules.

What might seem like an easy adaption to most employees can be a cause of confusion and anxiety for someone who values routine. For example, a neurodivergent person may find the following statements deeply uncomfortable, whilst colleagues happily take it in their stride.

“We’ve completed that big order and the boss is delighted, so she says everyone can leave an hour early today.”

“We’ll let this customer jump the queue because they’ve put in an urgent request.”

This is why having a coach can be beneficial. In this role, I am someone to share these experiences with and explore strategies that reduce overwhelm and stress. Some involve actions for the individual. However, we can also identify reasonable adjustments that help the employer and colleagues support their neurodivergent employees.

This is an important factor in empowering change. I’ve found that many of the challenges that a neurodivergent employee experiences are a result of the work environment or misunderstood communications. Through coaching, the employee can identify what they need and inform colleagues. In turn, this can build understanding and lead to small adjustments that make all the difference.

Developing Self Awareness

Part of the coaching experience is to develop self-awareness. Yes, we all have talents and habits and face barriers, but we don’t always recognise them. However, talking things through with a coach and being challenged or held accountable can help us understand our strengths and motivations, as well as what’s holding us back.

On occasions, I’ve coached individuals who are unaware that they are neurodivergent. They come to me because something isn’t right. Maybe they don’t feel they belong or they find work is exhausting. Through our discussions, we may realise that there is a likelihood of an undiagnosed condition.

The individual might decide to follow up with neurodiversity screening or may prefer not to. However, this discovery alone can help them to make sense of why they think or behave differently to the people around them. And, this understanding is a powerful step in self-awareness, which many people find it positively life-changing.

Funding Coaching for Neurodivergent Individuals

To encourage greater workplace diversity, the Government offers the Access to Work scheme. This provides grants to employees who would benefit from support at work. It is not to fund reasonable adjustments that your employer needs to make to improve accessibility. However, it can be used to address your individual needs. That can include the cost of a coach to help you explore your needs and learn strategies to thrive at work.

If you are starting a new position or returning to work and feel that you would benefit from coaching, visit the Access to Work website to see if you are eligible.

If you would like any further information from me about coaching, please complete the form on my contact page. I will respond within 48 hours to answer any questions that you have.

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