A Roadmap for Neuroinclusive Managers

Approximately 15-20% of our​ population is neurodivergent ​

Middle managers have always supervised neurodistinct employees regardless of either party’s awareness of this fact. The confluence of exponentially rising prevalence rates, the self-identification movement, and efforts to recognize late-identified neurodiverents from “The Lost Generation” suggests that managers are now supervising the largest cohort of neurodivergents ever. Managers play a crucial role in unlocking the limitless potential of a neuroinclusive workforce. On the contrary, unskilled managers can render all facets of the employment life cycle intolerable for neurodivergents. This article seeks to distill insights from the neurodiversity movement into actionable steps for managers. ​

Cultural Byproducts of Neuroinclusion ​

Neurodiversity is not charity. The benefits of neuroinclusive practices flow to neurodivergents, neurotypicals, and businesses. Neurodiverse enterprises that train managers on neuroinclusive practices describe a variety of coveted cultural byproducts. Early evidence suggests that neurodiverse teams outperform their competitors. Communication at all levels becomes more precise and more efficient. Embracing new perspectives prompts product and service evolutions. Taken together, it is undeniable that neuroinclusive practices aren’t just good for neurodivergents; all members of the enterprise benefit tremendously. ​

Benefits for Managers​

Neurodiversity training is a potent mechanism to cultivate better managers. Yes, managers who take their first naive venture into the neurodiversity space might initially approach their responsibilities with apprehension. However, managers who participate in neurodiversity training series describe various personal benefits. Discerning everyday neurodivergent support needs provides a lens through which managers learn to assess better the barriers impacting all employees. Optimizing your communication style promotes efficiency and mitigates costly miscommunication. Creative interviewing practices allow you to better identify and sponsor overlooked talent. Embracing diverse perspectives fosters innovation and more productive teams. Adopting a cadence of feedback and check-ins keeps teams aligned. In short, the means absolutely justify the ends. ​

Taking Action​

Managers’ unique position within enterprises affords them tremendous influence related to neurodiversity efforts. Enterprises seeking to become more neuroinclusive should train managers at the beginning of their journey. Inevitably, there will be growing pains during this process. Leading neuroinclusive companies recommend starting small before scaling efforts. Other considerations include the following:​

  • Only select your best managers for pilot training​

  • Dispel common myths about neurodivergents during training​

  • Teach managers to be “Expert Interpreters” when miscommunication between neurodivergent and neurotypical employees occurs​

  • Develop a clear cadence of check-ins and feedback, especially during the employee’s first 90 days​

  • Utilize alternative interviewing strategies (reverse career fairs, skill & project-based hiring, and access to questions beforehand, to name a few)​

  • Connect neurodivergent employees with peers and career mentors​

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