Gain Expertise Using The Autism Advantage
Are you a manager who would like to benefit from the Autism Advantage?But are you uncertain about what demands employing the Autism Advantage will place on you and your company?
In this article, we will explain how consultants from Specialisterne can solve specific tasks while also providing you with the tools necessary to implement neurodiversity in your team. this way, you can safely hire neurodivergent employees in the future.
A short definition of the words “neurodivergent”, “neurotypical” and “neurodiversity”
Neurodivergent means that a person has a brain with atypical characteristics, e.g. autism, ADHD, epilepsy, etc.
Neurotypical means that a person has a “normal” brain.
Neurodiversity means that a group consists of both neurotypical and neurodivergent people.
Management Coaching will make you more adept at managing neurodivergent people
When you buy consultancy guidance from Specialisterne, you do not only get a consultant with specialised skills. You also get Management Coaching from the management branch at Specialisterne.
Bina Hjorth, Commercial Manager at Specialisterne, has many years of management coaching experience:
“When I am out coaching, managers often come up to me afterwards and say: “Now I understand it!”. Many managers – even experienced ones – might feel insecure because they do not know what it is like to be neurodivergent or to have a diagnosis. And that makes them unsure of what to do as managers.”
When doing Management Coaching, Bina Hjorth’s job is to analyse the context within which the consultant will be working. She takes the entire organisation and the department into account. Typically, her conclusion might be that the manager needs to adjust their management style or adopt a different way of planning the tasks.
Management Coaching provides the managers with a “tool box” that helps when co-operating with and managing neurodivergent employees and the teams that they are part of. During the initial phase, Bina Hjorth co-operates closely with both the manager and the consultant. In her experience, the employee quickly settles in if the environment offers insight and an understanding of the consultant’s needs and potential challenges.
Risk free on-boarding
“We have developed a risk free “on-boarding model”. Within this model, the company’s task is being solved by day 1. And if we hit a snag that cannot be solved, it is easy to end the arrangement.”
The Management Coaching from Specialisterne makes the on-boarding as risk-free as possible for the company hiring skilled consultants from Specialisterne.
However, more often than not the employees and the manager are so happy with their consultants from Specialisterne that the consultants are “on-boarded”/hired by the company. And Specialisterne are ready to support the company all the way.
From consultant to employee
Specialisterne is not a typical consultancy firm; rather, they are always happy to see their talented employees move on to work for the companies.
Bina Hjorth explains:
“Standard consultancy firms do not want to lose their talented consultants. But here, it is quite the opposite! the goal of Specialisterne has always been to get as many neurodivergent people as possible employed. We want to create more neurodiverse teams that will add value in new and effective ways.”
Which is why Management Coaching is a central part of Bina Hjorth’s work. She knows that the tools used in the on-boarding create the foundation for good, neurodiverse teams at the workplaces.
Very often, the most important aspect of Management Coaching is making the manager understand the needs of the neurodivergent employee.
According to Bina Hjorth’s experience, the work must make sense to the consultant and he or she must be able to solve the task as properly as possible:
“Our consultants like to work on something that makes sense to them. They thrive on making a difference. But what might make sense to you or to a neurotypical employee does not necessarily make sense to a neurodivergent employee.”
Because they place so much emphasis on solving the task properly, neurodivergent employees are usually both conscientious and detail-oriented. That means that the manager must reserve a bit of extra time when introducing the task, defining the work, answering questions and explaining the context. It might also be necessary to dedicate some extra time for continuous follow-up.
This management style often has a positive effect on the rest of the team because many employees will perform better when given clear guidelines and well-defined tasks. And that leads to good results.
“Neurodivergent employees shed a light on a need that others might also have but which is not always fulfilled”, Bina Hjorth explains.
This extra time investment at the beginning of the on-boarding process will bring you, the manager, future benefits because the neurodivergent employee will be able to solve similar tasks faster and more precisely once the task has become routine.
Awkward feedback is a path to evolution
Once your neurodivergent employee has created a routine, you, the manager, will receive feedback on errors, weaknesses or unnecessary, time-consuming routines – but you might also get input on how to optimise the task to make it more efficient:
“The autistic brain is kind of lazy. It wants to find a way of doing the task easier and faster. And it also detects alternative routes and creative solutions.” This is the experience of Bina Hjorth.
Although it might seem a bit awkward to get this kind of feedback, it is actually a boon for you as a manager. Neurodivergent employees are often able to challenge “the way we have always done it”. In the end, you will benefit from more efficient problem solving.
The positive effects of using a neurodivergent approach to problem solving do not only provide an advantage to problem solving within the company. They also benefit co-operation within the entire team and department.
Neurodiversity in a team benefits everyone
According to Bina Hjorth’s experience, the broadness of a diverse management style can benefit the entire team because it creates more open and precise communication:
“In my experience, the integration of neurodivergent employees has an overall positive effect on the entire team. I often see teams using more precise and clear communication. Often, neurotypical employees are more imprecise and often guess at what their manager wants, instead of asking them directly. In contrast, a neurodivergent employee will typically ask more questions to make sure they solve their tasks properly.”
Bina Hjorth explains that all those questions might be annoying at the time. But they can actually be a useful drive toward better problem solving, because it forces you to dig deeper.
Often, the neurodivergent team members will communicate precisely and specifically, benefiting their neurotypical colleagues by also making them communicate in a more precise manner. And that creates openness and more effective problem solving at the same time:
“Neurotypical people often hide stuff under the carpet because they are afraid of ruining the mood. But neurodivergent employees often just call a spade a spade. Sometimes, the things that neurotypical people are only thinking will be said out loud. This might be liberating and releasing. And if the manager is able to handle such communication, it is good for the entire team. In fact, neurodiverse teams often laugh a lot more!”
Diversity is needed for optimal problem solving
Bina Hjorth concludes that diversity is a competitive advantage. In her experience, some managers unknowingly hire people that resemble themselves. But luckily, many managers are now aware that they need a range of different personalities to cover all areas:
“We need differentiated skills for differentiated tasks. And I have noticed that many managers are starting to look into this.”
Which is why Specialisterne are proud of being part of creating space for diversity within Danish companies – finding work for one consultant at a time and, in the long run, hopefully for several million neurodivergent people across the world. In this way, we create value for society, the companies and, not least, for the neurodivergent individuals.
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Learn more about how your company can create the framework for diversity