What Might True ADHD look like at work?


I want to tell you a story about someone named John. John has an impressive résumé. He graduated from Michigan in 2002 and finished business school at Wharton in 2005. Since then, he’s worked in two different divisions of a Fortune 500 company and enjoyed a modicum of success.

Everyone agrees: the guy is super smart, experienced, business-savvy and brings loads of energy and enthusiasm to the table. But somehow, John is just not living up to his potential.  In fact, if John doesn’t get his act together and start producing better results, you may have to think about letting him go. The problems are increasing and you are getting really frustrated.

John makes a lot of promises but frequently doesn’t follow through. He is disorganized and seems overwhelmed - missing deadlines and arriving late for important meetings. He always has an excuse for his behavior but continues to be unprepared.

His manager can’t figure out what the problem is. After all, John should be a rising star – he has tremendous potential. Everyone wants him to succeed, but there is a gap between expectations and what John has – or hasn’t – been delivering.

Maybe you know someone like John. You may have even had someone just like him working for you. If so, you know how frustrating it is when someone who seems so capable does not deliver consistently and performs below what you believe they are capable of.

It is costly to have an underperforming employee – especially as companies are relying on fewer people to accomplish more. You have already invested in individuals such as John and you don’t want to lose the return.

It is possible that underneath John’s difficulties lies a condition that is largely unrecognized in Corporate America today and wreaking havoc in workplaces everywhere – Adult ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Millions of adults may never reach their potential even though they are passionate and intelligent because they are unknowingly dealing with this. In addition to lost potential, unexplained absences, difficulty carrying out assigned tasks, missed deadlines, or out of control schedules, employees with Adult ADHD are costing companies billions. A recent Harvard study reported in BusinessWeek shows that the economic losses due to ADHD are little short of staggering: $77 billion annually.

Targeted, specialized actions designed to tackle the specific issues related to ADHD do exist. Additionally, the problems need not (and SHOULD NOT) be labeled or seen as a "diagnosis." By identifying the correct underlying issue, the recommended actions are more likely to be effective. What John really needs is support and skills necessary for:

• Efficient project management/day to day planning (i.e. tracking/follow up) • Effective execution • Discipline and focus • Prioritizing and organizing an overwhelming workload • Self-management • Sound decision making • Managing tasks and information overload

Hope this gives you a little insight into some of the behaviors that are ever present. The great news is that there are solutions for all! It is just a matter of getting educated. The worst part of ADD is not knowing you have it.

Have a productive day!

Coach Nancy