A question that comes up from business and their hr or manager executives is how do we apply Neurodiversity strategies where we can measure adequate outcomes that are a win-win for both us and the employee?
This is a fair and justifiable question and my answer to this is to be “Be People-Centric” where the employee is the priority with the support and accommodations needed.
The Be People-Centric approach can be applied from two pre-existing systems, which of course requires some understanding and adjustments. Let’s examine these two systems and see how we can apply them in the workplace to neurodiverse employees.
Let’s first explore the education system
For neurodiverse children, they develop and implement an “Individual Educational Plan,” or IEP. An IEP comes in two formats, one focused on challenges and the other focused on strengths. This tool ensures there is a plan with a set number of goals and targets to help the student achieve. It is all centre on making sure there are both accommodations and support for the student. This also includes an academic coach, who helps the student with this plan.
I want to clarify; an academic coach is not a tutor who helps a student with challenges in a particular subject. Rather, an academic coach is someone who helps them develop learning and productivity strategies.
When we look at a strength base IEP, it performs in the same matter but in opposition to a challenge based IEP. The goals are not on trying to improve individual challenges because the focus is to highlight and further develop their strengths towards greater progress.
An IEP has 7 steps where each of these milestones is designed to help the success of the student.
Step 1 Pre-evaluation – What are the challenges that the teacher has noticed?
Step 2 Referred by Special Needs Education psychologies
Step 3 Diagnosis of a Neurodiversity
Step 4 Meeting with parents to discuss this diagnosis.
Step 5 Development of an IEP
Step 6 Implantation
Step 7 Review and evaluation
Let’s now look at the workplace
In the workplace, there is something to know as ‘Individual Work Plan,’ or IWP. The purpose of this is to bring clarity to a task, set expectations and generate a plan for how this will be achieved. An IWP can make for an individual and it can be made for a team.
In either case, you want to break down the task into chunks to make it more manageable. With this tool, the team member (s) will ensure they understand what is being asked of them and outline how they will move forward to tackle the deliverable.
How can we combine these two tools?
Well, the first thing we need is some ground rules:
- This is a Neurodiversity IWP, so this will need adequate considerations.
- identify the challenges and the strengths
- The two primary focuses are to ensure there are support and accommodations for their challenges and to build on their strengths.
In both scenarios, it’s important to ensure there is the ease of access to the resource that is required.
Employees, HR and managers need training on Neurodiversity awareness, communication and how to manage Neurodiversity team members.
- Set goals and targets that is a win-win for both employers, managers and employees. Describe what that win-win situation would be like. Set a path of how they can move forward, which will lead to future promotions and pay raises. Of course, what does the employer want to see for deliverables.
- Have a job coach. The job coach is there to help provide productivity strategies, self-esteem building and additional support to the individual.
- Apply the SOMIT Goals
- Time Related
The above is like SMART Goal with a unique philosophy. I took this from my friend and mentor, Andrew Gibson, who is from a Solution Focus approach and the author of two books, “What is your URP?” and “Make Life Simple“. As you can see, there are two major differences, O, for Observation and I, for Interactional.
Why this change? Well, observation is about noticing what is working, where are the connections that lead to a desired successful outcome. It is, of course, noted what is working and understanding why. This relates to Interactional, which is about seeing the connections and how they influence one another.
- Review and re-evaluate every quarter.
Each of these steps is designed to create a plan where both the employer and employee can understand what is needed as well as expected from both parties. The IWP not only outlines this expectation, it also brings in a more clear understanding and empathy to that employee who may have felt overwhelmed, stressed and alone, as there was no support.
With an IWP, you are creating a plan filled with reachable goals that change the mindset of all parties and deliver real targeted results. Most of all, when we centre on people where you adjust to their needs and their strengths, they will have a greater opportunity to triumph because they have a team and a leader that believes in them.
Business knows that when you invest in people, in particular Neurodiversity individuals, they are more loyal to that organization and as a result, the return is greater.
Would you or your business do well with an IWP?
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Listen to this topic and others like it on my podcast Take A Leap & Transform: A Neurodiversity Journey