The objective of this guide is to raise awareness of ADHD, attention deficit disorder , at work so that people with a fully exploit their capacities in the service of their professional ambitions.
This guide is intended for people with a and employers.
This guide was written in collaboration with the TDAH France association.
A big thank you to the president of the association, Christine Getin, for the time given to this guide
I. ADHD in the professional world
ADHD, what is it?
ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder, which manifests itself in childhood by difficulty modulating ideas (inattention), movements and behaviors (hyperactivity / impulsivity). To this table can be added a difficulty in modulating emotions (hyperreactivity). The symptoms are not the consequences of a lack of « wanting », but of « being able ».
The trio of symptoms:
– Inattention : This manifests itself in an attention that can be much more easily diverted by external events (noise, smell, people talking next door, a big deadline) but also by a difficulty in prioritizing and focusing on a single idea. Concretely, this can take the form of increased deconcentration in a “living” open-space, forgetting to make appointments, ideas that go all over the place and difficulty in prioritizing tasks one by one. compared to others.
– Hyperactivity : This manifests itself by the need to always be in action and movement. A person with ADHD can speak very quickly, and will need to move often, which helps them think better and channel their thoughts. These traits are less marked in adults but are still present and can take on more discreet aspects (chewing gum or fiddling with an object, moving hands and feet, doodling, humming, etc.).
– Impulsivity : It manifests itself by the inability to postpone an action or a thought. The action needs to be immediate, even if in adults this trait is more contained, it remains present. This manifests itself in the inability to wait for a decision before taking action, to be impatient in queues, to want to speak up even if others have not finished or completed their sentence.
Tips for integrating ADHD into the world of work
The professional world has its own codes that can make everyday life difficult for people with ADHD. Here are some tips that can make your day-to-day life easier.
–You can schedule fewer tasks than you think you can do. This allows you to focus on the essentials and not put too much pressure on yourself if you can’t do everything.
–You can have a to-do list for the day, for the week, for the month. For the day, it is good that your day is very organized, assigning a time of day to each task. Long tasks can be divided into several subtasks. Weekly and monthly goals may be less specific.
–When you are on a large project, you and your team can divide it into large tasks and sub-tasks so that you can organize yourself over time
–You can arrive at work earlier or leave later (arriving later) to take advantage of the times when your workplace is quieter
– You can ask for a workspace with a minimum of distractions (specific office instead of an open space, avoid any object that could distract you, be with your back to the corridor
–Avoid all types of distractions in your workspace. If you have a computer job, you can use software to block sites during certain hours
–Some situations may involve strong emotions, which prevent concentration. During these times, you can take a break and in particular move (movement in your workspace, going out for the air, doing short physical exercises)
–In order to keep your concentration throughout the day, you can vary the type of tasks during the day
–You can structure your day by giving yourself breaks where you move around
–If possible, you should avoid starting a new project when the current project has not been completed. This will allow you to keep your focus on a main task.
–Fixing time slots for interruptions, meetings and tasks requiring concentration allows you to better control your day and better concentrate.
Have fixed time slots where you answer emails, chats, and potential calls. Fixed time slots when you are available for meetings. Fixed time slots where you can concentrate on your tasks.
–Explain to your interlocutors that emergencies have a real impact on your work, your fatigue and that they can have an impact on your ability to return work on time.
–When you have ideas in a meeting that are irrelevant or irrelevant to the discussion, write them down. This will allow you to concentrate on the meeting again, without losing the idea.
–You can set specific alarms to make sure you don’t forget meetings.
–If you wish, you can request the provision of a welcome booklet with the organization chart of the company’s people as well as the rules and codes of communication of the company and your team. You cannot address a manager or a colleague in the same way. The company also has its own rules of communication that must be kept in mind.
–If you wish, you can ask to have a referent within your team in order to be able to exchange regularly. He can help you prioritize tasks and manage certain situations.
– Weigh your words. If you’re too blunt or don’t tailor your response to the situation, it can backfire.
–Wait until the other person has finished their sentence before speaking, even if you really want to share what you are thinking.
–Specify that you prefer not to be interrupted during a meeting as this may require extra effort when resuming.
–If you have requested a referent, he or she can be your adviser to better organize your tasks and communicate well in unusual situations.
–If you are offered to get involved in a new project, answer that you are already involved in something else, or you can answer “It sounds very interesting, but I have to check my agenda”
Many people with ADHD have had to find solutions that may be specific to them. It is best to ask the person concerned what they need. Here are some tips that can give you some initial leads.
–Avoid unwanted interruptions (Chat, unscheduled calls, face-to-face questions when the person is concentrated). If necessary, define a time slot for each day when the employee may be disturbed.
–Promote a fixed working environment: fixed time slots for meetings, fixed time slots for the tasks to be performed, arrival and departure from fixed work as far as possible.
–Clarify contingencies and emergencies. These lead to changes in the organization of the day and require an effort of concentration for the person with ADHD.
–Allow flexible hours (arrive earlier and leave earlier or arrive later and leave later) to allow the person with ADHD to be in the office during quiet times
–Provide a working environment with a minimum of distraction (back to the hallway, no noise, no gadgets nearby). Preferably avoid open spaces. If this is not possible, the open space can be adapted.
–Allow the person with ADHD to be able to take regular breaks, even 3 min during a long meeting, so that they can move and concentrate again. Another solution can allow him to be on the move at certain times of the meeting.
–Avoid giving the person with ADHD several projects at the same time. If this is not possible, she may need the help of a referent within her team to help structure her work.
–Daily, weekly and monthly objectives can be proposed in order to better structure the work.
–Allow the person with ADHD to vary the tasks so that they can maintain their concentration
–Make reminders, if necessary before specific points, to avoid forgetting and maintain momentum and a good level of motivation.
–Provide a welcome booklet with the organization chart of the company’s people as well as the rules and codes of communication for the company and your team. This will allow the person with ADHD to know the rules and be able to refer to them when necessary.
–Assign a reference colleague within the team to facilitate communication. This reference colleague can help his colleague with ADHD to structure his tasks and manage complicated communication situations.
–It is important to listen to a collaborator with ADHD. The more confident she feels, the more she will be able to communicate about her disorder and her needs so that the work goes as well as possible.
–People with ADHD can be spontaneous. Do not hesitate to report it if certain answers seem inappropriate or inappropriate to you.
–People with ADHD have many ideas and are eager to share them. Don’t hesitate to ask the person with ADHD to take their turn if this is the case.
–The referent, if there is one, can be the point of contact and the main helper for communication advice to the person with ADHD.
ADHD and Recognition as a Disabled Worker
What is recognition as a disabled worker?
ADHD is recognized as a disability by the House of Handicapped Persons (MDPH). Thus, a person who stutters is eligible for the Recognition as a Disabled Worker (RQTH). The RQTH is the administrative recognition of disability. Do not hesitate to apply for RQTH if you think it could be of benefit to you.
What are the advantages?
RQTH is not mandatory. However, it is important because it allows:
– to benefit from schedule arrangements for medical and therapeutic appointments.
– to benefit from advantages during recruitment within certain companies. Companies are subject to a quota of 6% of employees with an RQTH. Certain recruitment policies are advantageous for people with RQTH in order to reach these quotas.
– benefit from the implementation of workstation arrangements as recommended by occupational medicine
– to access services and financial aid from AGEFIPH (The state body in charge of disabled people in a private structure) or FIFPH (The state body in charge of disabled people in a public structure)
– to benefit from special rules in the event of termination of an employment contract, such as doubling the length of the notice of dismissal.
– access to rehabilitation and vocational training courses in the event of incapacity for your former profession.
How to apply for his RQTH? To apply for his RQTH, you must complete a file to send to the departmental MDPH. The file is detailed here .
When is it possible to request RQTH? RQTH’s application is a big step. It recognizes the handicap administratively. It is not always easy to apply for RQTH. Some people with ADHD will consider themselves to be disabled, others will not. The advantage of RQTH is that it protects and encourages companies to adapt the work environment to the individual’s needs.
The other difficulty is that disability can be seen as something personal that some people do not want to share with the whole company. It is important to note that the RQTH is CONFIDENTIAL. It is possible to share it only with the occupational physician, who will do what is necessary to adapt the position. There is no obligation to speak to the disability manager of the company or to human resources, even if this can help to have a daily follow-up.
ADHD is recognized as a disability by the MDPH. Thus, a person with ADHD is eligible for RQTH, which counts people in the 6% quota. The person can also request their RQTH when they are employed in your company. The request takes a maximum of 6 months.
Possible arrangements to help the person with ADHD
Each person with ADHD has their own references, affinities, choices and has been able to implement coping methods or techniques. So here are some recommended accommodations, but the most consistent will be those you establish with the person with ADHD.
– When there is a customer contact , the interlocutor (s) can be warned upstream if the person with ADHD so wishes.
– Adapt the organization of work to the specific needs of the person.
– Provide a space conducive to concentration (with a minimum of visual and / or sound distractors).
– Favor short communications over dense communications, accompany your oral communications with a written reminder of the main points discussed. (Report, return from work by email, appointment planning).
– Provide tools to facilitate concentration but also alerts so as not to forget meetings
II. Interviews and ADHD
The interview is an exercise with multiple challenges, for the candidate and for the company. When disability comes into play, assessment and decision making become more complex. The candidate, for his part, may have the apprehension that his ADHD puts him at a disadvantage.
Before the interview
The interview is a complicated exercise, because it is an exercise where the way in which one interacts with the recruiter is important. However, you are quite capable of shining during this exercise!
Whether or not to declare your stuttering
The declaration of ADHD (in the CV, in the cover letter) is your right before or during the interview. There is no obligation. Declaring your ADHD in the CV or cover letter allows recruiters to make the necessary arrangements during the interviews. The declaration before the interview allows you to be honest about your ADHD and not to have to overcompensate to hide or limit your ADHD.
If you don’t mention stuttering in your resume or cover letter, you can talk about it when Human Resources contacts you to schedule the interview.
The main downside is that ADHD is still poorly understood, and there is still a lot of prejudice. The purpose of this page is to limit prejudices. The advantage of talking about ADHD before the interview is that it allows the company to schedule extra time for you if necessary. Talking about it also allows you to be less focused on the stuttering, because the recruiter will already be aware of it, so they will be less surprised.
You will find here our guide to the declaration of disability in the business world.
Prepare for your interview
– Find out about the company (what are its activities? What are the latest news?)
– Learn about the job you are interviewing for. If available, you can read the job description and learn about the skills required and the tasks to be done.
– Ask recruiters what dress code is required. If the requested outfit does not make you comfortable, you can ask to put on an outfit that makes you comfortable.
– Ask recruiters with whom you will be interviewing. You can then find out about your contacts upstream (by looking on LinkedIn in particular).
– Ask recruiters what is the format of the interview. (Interview with a person, case study, group interview, access plan, etc.). This will allow you to prepare yourself as well as possible. You can specify that group interviews are not the best format for you.
Prepare what you are going to say about yourself
The recruiter may ask you to introduce yourself and ask you questions about your motivations, strengths and skills, and past experiences.
Introduce yourself: You can give your first name, your last name, say what studies you have done and speak in 1 sentence (20 to 30 words maximum) about one of your passions
Motivations : List a maximum of 3 reasons for your motivation. It is important to develop your motivations in 2 short sentences. These sentences can answer the question « why this motivation »)
Strengths and skills : You can list your 3 main strengths for this position. It can be your skills (in code, graphics, math etc.) or your personality traits (courageous, persevering etc.). You can illustrate these strengths with an example each time
Past experiences : The employer will ask you to present 1 or 2 experiences that you have had. This can be professional, associative, sports or student experiences (university project). For each experience you can
- Describe what you did
- Describe the result of what you did
- Describe what you have learned and learned from your work.
Talking about ADHD during the interview
Talking about your stuttering is a very personal thing. Being able to talk about it with a recruiter can:
- Create a bond with the recruiter. You share something very personal. You share part of your vulnerability. It’s something that touches people and creates a bond beyond the interview
- Help recruiters understand you better and understand ADHD.
When to talk about it? :
At the start of the interview or at the end of the interview
How to talk about it? :
– Factually: say what it means for you in terms of skills and difficulties
– Positively: say it factually, adding a sentence about what stuttering bring you. the ADHD allows you to develop a lot of skills that can be very useful in the world of work.
In an interview, it is often difficult to get past a difference such as ADHD. If the person is interviewed, it means that their profile matches your expectations. Despite all the perceived skills, the tendency is to favor a candidate without a disability over a different candidate.
First of all, make it clear to the candidate that if he has a disability, he can share it upstream, and this is important so that the interview is adapted and the recruiter can prepare and obtain information.
– If you know beforehand that the candidate has ADHD,
- Pay attention to the format of the interviews. Written, oral, multiple question, psychometric tests may require extra attention for the person with ADHD. Solutions may be to allow extra time (25% or more) and / or allow small breaks during the exam (a few minutes to move)
- Book a room with minimal noise and distraction
- Tell the interviewer to read the section “during the interview” below.
- Inform the candidate of the different stages of the interview (oral, test) and ask him if he needs any adjustments
Here are some avenues to prepare before the interview to judge the candidate as objectively as possible:
– Before considering the candidate ‘s ADHD , does he have the necessary skills for the position ?
– Can we adapt the position to their ADHD? ? See the layout section.
–Can the tasks be done differently? Certain tasks of the position could be performed just as well by the person with ADHD if an approach corresponding to their specificities is permitted.
– Are the skill limitations associated with ADHD offset by the benefits that ADHD can bring? ? During the interview, ask positive questions about ADHD (the biggest wins with ADHD, what ADHD can do). This will have a benefit for you, because it will allow you to understand ADHD differently and not only as a constraint, and for the candidate, it will be able to put him in confidence and reassure him.
During the interview
– Be at the interview 10 minutes early.
– Put your phone on silent.
– Do not rush to answer a question, take your time. Keep the flow steady and calm. It helps to show that you have confidence in yourself. Don’t hesitate to say, “I need to take my time”.
– If a question is not clear, you can ask the other person to rephrase it so that it is clearer for you.
– Remember that the most important thing is not your stuttering, but your skills and what you say.
– If you wish, you can talk about your ADHD during the interview. Talking about it can be important so that you are fairly assessed.
– Be at the interview 10 minutes early.
– Keep a piece of paper where you write down the main information you get during your interview. This way, you will be sure to have the information you need during the rest of the interview. Write only a few words and in large numbers so that you can read it easily.
– If you have too many ideas at once, write them down on a piece of paper, and then say only those that are relevant to the conversation.
– Before answering a question, think carefully about who you are talking to and adapt your answer.
– If you don’t understand a question, don’t panic. Ask the other person to repeat it.
– If there is a stage of the interview that seems complicated to you with your ADHD: A long written test with many details, a test with a limited time, a “monotonous” interview, do not hesitate to report it to caller.
– Take an interest in what his disability allowed him to do. The adventures lived are a gold mine to get to know the person and discover all his skills. Be careful, some people will be less open on this subject, in this case, respect their restraint.
– Remember to be transparent with the candidate. If he tells you about his ADHD, be honest about your position on it. If you have any doubts, ask the candidate for examples of situations similar to those they will encounter on the job.
– If you think the person has ADHD but dare not tell, you can ask if they have RQTH, you can put the person at ease and show that disability is not a taboo. However, it is not allowed to ask a person if they have a specific disability.
–Assess the candidate on all of his skills, going beyond any constraints related to ADHD .
– Allow notes to be taken during the interview. This will allow candidates to remember key elements of the interview.
– Psychometric or multiple question tests can be discriminating and do not assess the full range of skills required in a job. It is preferable to perform another type of test.
– Vary the interview questions frequently enough so that the candidate can keep their concentration. You can for example vary between questions about his motivations, experiences and technical questions / technical tests.
– Allow the candidate to move when he wants. Don’t be surprised if he’s holding a stress ball or other object in his hand.
– Offer a 5-minute break every 30 minutes
– If there is a written test, make sure the candidate can have more time and take a short break during the written test
– If there is a group test, make sure the candidate can have different roles
III. ADHD and work
Daily work is made up of professional tasks and all formal and informal exchanges between colleagues. ADHD can thus prove to be a real challenge, both for colleagues and for the person themselves.
ADHD can require strong daily compensations that tire and take up a significant portion of energy. Your difference can be felt, which is why it is important to explain why you are different. Saying it verbally is complicated because we share something (very) personal with a stranger.
For advice on everyday work, see the section of part one.
Inform about your ADHD
You can inform your company about your ADHD through different channels (written or oral) and different people (human resources, manager, colleague etc.)
– You can inform one of your colleagues, your manager or a human resources person in writing (Chat, Mail). You can explain in 3 lines what this means for you and share this page.
– If you don’t want to share it with your entire team, you can first talk to one of your colleagues, a manager or someone from human resources.
– During a first meeting, at the start of the exchange, you can indicate that you are a person with ADHD. You can take 2 short examples with a concrete situation (1 sentence for each) which explain what this implies
– Speaking of the positive side of your ADHD. It can make a positive contribution by getting people with ADHD to do things that make them different. and be a real asset in business. You can take a real life example where you achieved something because of your ADHD.
– You can ask for arrangements that make you comfortable:
Some people will come to work with you every day. Giving them precise information on ADHD and above all, on the expression of your ADHD, will allow them to better understand your difference and facilitate daily collaboration. To educate your team, you can:
– Share this page.
– A presentation can be made to your team. It can be done by someone from the outside, by someone from the company, or by yourself if you wish.
Assert yourself at work :
The world of work is demanding. ADHD involves thriving in this world with a difference. You shouldn’t hesitate to say what makes you uncomfortable or ask for what you want, because if you don’t, no one will do it for you. It is true that it is often quite complicated, but you should not hesitate because it is your right.
– Adapting the organization of work is key for a person with ADHD. It is important that you can request the accommodations that suit you
– If you wish to speak but you cannot take it, communicate it, either in the meeting chat or orally, even if it means interrupting the meeting for a short time.
ADHD can surprise the uninformed. It can also have an impact on social life that should not be forgotten. If the person interacts in a different way, it could be related to ADHD as well. It may be important to take this into account in teamwork.
For advice on everyday work, see the section of part one.
– Allow the person with ADHD to talk about their ADHD and what it means for them, if they wish. Not everyone is comfortable in this situation.
– Distribute the first informative part of this guide to all team members.
–Provide a welcome booklet with the organization chart of the company’s people as well as the rules and codes of communication for the company and your team. This will allow the person with ADHD to know the rules and to be able to refer to them when necessary.
–Assign a reference colleague within the team to facilitate communication. This reference colleague can help the person with ADHD to structure their tasks and manage complicated communication situations.
–It is important to listen to an ADHD employee. The more confident he feels, the more he will be able to communicate about his disorder and his needs so that the work goes as well as possible.
–People with ADHD can be spontaneous and unfiltered. Do not hesitate to report to him if any attitudes, formulations or behavior seem unsuitable to you.
–People with ADHD have lots of ideas and are eager to share them. Do not hesitate to ask the person with ADHD to take their turn if this is the case. and write down his ideas so that he does not forget them
–The person presenting with ADHD, if there is one, can be the point of contact and the main help for communication advice with the person with ADHD.
Evolve at work
Finding a job and integrating into the professional world are the first steps in a great adventure. There are several key steps that follow:
- Validate the trial period
- Be evaluated on the work done
- Being promoted
Working with a person with dyslexia is working with a person who has specific needs. These specific needs do not change the skills and work capacities of the person in any way, they only require a little more flexibility. Many tips and arrangements were offered in the first part. The issue is that people with dyslexia can be assessed at key stages in a fair way. Thus, it is conceivable to achieve less on certain aspects (in particular the interpersonal aspects) but more on other aspects (in particular the technical aspects).
ADHD is often seen as a stress. We often forget to see the constructive side of ADHD. The daily challenges cannot be denied. These daily challenges and these different ways of approaching the world, forge and develop skills that are key in today’s world:
– Hyper focusing : People with ADHD have the ability to concentrate intensely so that everything else seems forgotten. The ideal is to concentrate on specific tasks for a short period (30 min) in order to avoid being distracted and to be able to remain attentive to what is going on in the environment.
– Creativity : People with ADHD have a different way of linking together different ideas, concepts or facts, which allows them to think outside the box and come up with solutions perceived as creative and innovative, which are particularly key in the sectors growing and in entrepreneurial environments. They are a valuable contribution to a team by bringing a different perception.
– Risk taking : People with ADHD are known to like taking initiative. In complex situations, whether in entrepreneurial environments, in family structures or in large companies, initiatives involving risk-taking are key to making the company evolve. Often, we weigh the negative consequences more than the positive ones. Being able to consider taking a risk and taking action can be key in many situations.
– Multi-Passion : People with ADHD have many interests and may constantly be interested in new things. This appetite can be key in fields which require multiple expertise or which imply a permanent evolution.
– Motor : People with ADHD have very high energy, whether mental or physical. They will always want to act and move forward and can sometimes seem inexhaustible. It is important to prioritize tasks (daily, weekly and monthly) so that this energy is well directed and can become a driving force in a team.
These skills are not so obvious in reality. They require a welcoming environment where the person with ADHD has their place and where they are not sidelined by their difference.
The person with ADHD must also dare to face the situations that are difficult for him with his difference in order to show that he is not reduced to ADHD: it is a person with a specific experience, which allows him to develop skills that are unique to it and that are out of the ordinary.
The condition for developing these skills is the acceptance of the difference, whether it is one’s own or that of a colleague. The crucial point is not to limit the responsibilities of the person with ADHD because of his handicap. On the contrary, we need him give the opportunity to go further if it wishes, without constraining it.
ADHD at Work Beyond Prejudice
A person with ADHD can achieve even their biggest dreams. Of course, the path will be more winding, but the difficulties encountered are also part of the richness of the ADHD and what it does for the person with ADHD and those around them.
Some people with ADHD are brilliant scientists, others are business leaders (the founder of IKEA, the CEO of Cisco System), others are artists (Will.I.AM of the black eyed peas) or athletes (Michael Peps, the most successful athlete at the Olympic Games). There are many people with ADHD here who feel limited by their difference.
By going beyond prejudices, we allow people who are often stigmatized to have the right to dream and achieve their ambitions. We also provide our society with skills that we have ignored for too long. We focus on what is not possible to do, while we can focus on actions that can be done in a different way.
David Neeleman is a brilliant entrepreneur who has created 5 airlines (Morris Air, WestJet, JetBlue Airways, Azul Brazilian Airlines and Breeze Airways) serving more than 100 destinations around the world. For him, it is his ADHD that allows him to spot opportunities.
“I knew I had strengths that other people didn’t have, and my parents would remind me of them when my teachers didn’t see them. I can analyze complicated facts and come up with simple solutions. I can observe an area of activity that presents all kinds of problems and asking me how to do better. My ADHD brain naturally searches for better ways to do things. «