5 things you need to know if you have ADHD on your team
Let’s face it: having ADHD sucks more often than not. However, it is a different challenge if you have ADHD on your team.
The main reason is you are used to being you and to your behavior. You are used to the things at which you are not good. And to the things you do exactly the way you do them, because otherwise – you know what I mean.
And most of the time, you are o.k. with it.
But if ADHD creeps in, teamwork can become overly complicated, even if your team consists of only two members, like ours.
At some point, we had to decide to change things – or not work together at all radically.
In this post, you can read about the five most important things you need to know if you have ADHD in your team – from the perspective of Mike, who has adult ADHD.
Ready for the magic?
Of course, you are.
By that, I mean a particular aspect of communication in which you are probably not a champion either. I am talking about listening …
For me, one of the biggest challenges with my ADHD.
Getting this blank look from Andrea when discussing a project, and I’m responding to a question from five minutes ago?
It paid tribute to our business because, in the beginning, we did not know I have ADHD. And even when we knew about it, we couldn’t handle it properly overnight.
But we wanted to work together, so we had to fix that.
Our first step to solving the problems was behavioral issues. It helped, but it only went so far.
Things started to change when we used frameworks.
And by that, I mean we broke down a situation into each step and made it a repeatable process.
Think about your typical morning.
You get up.
But how do you make sure to get up on time? You use a clock. Your framework for getting up on time must include a measure to make sure the alarm rings.
Then you probably make yourself a hot drink.
What are you going to do? Coffee? Tea?
Every evening I put out two cups. One filled with water, so I don’t forget to drink it and the other for coffee. I also serve the kettle ready. Doing this is one of my routines to start things smoothly in the morning.
This seemingly small task already is a framework. Why should you do this? Because a framework can save you valuable thinking capacity, which everybody could have more of from time to time.
And all the little decisions you have to make? They are taken care of.
But the main reason why you need a framework for listening in your ADHD business is this:
If you pretend with customers, it can cost you a fortune.
Remember, a real five-star customer, as we call them, is someone who tells you a lot about his/her business.
This fact is good because you can use the information to do a good job, sell him/her the next big thing (because you learn what that might be), create trust. And so on.
But listening to information only works for me if the information is structured. And not delivered in one big piece.
That is why we developed a framework for sales conversations. I like selling very much. It is not hard for me, but this part was.
We have developed a process over the last few years, using what worked best to deliver the promised outcome to the customer.
But at the same time, having a structured conversation about working in my genius zone.
The bonus? Customers love it because a process is synonymous with the feeling that someone is “in control.”
And that is something that customers want.
The next hurdle you need to know if you have ADHD in your team is structuring a project.
Every ADHD is different.
But from what I know, it’s not just a problem for me. I used to think of myself as a structured person. For example, I graduated from college with an excellent result.
But that only worked under a lot of pressure. And I was young, and working around the clock was possible.
As a business owner with adult ADHD, this is not an option. I need quiet time. I need the feeling of getting things done – not having them piled up somewhere I cannot see them.
The structure is probably the most important thing for me in successfully dealing with ADHD. And in some way, all 5 points have to do with structure in one way or another.
But I digressed.
The most important thing for me to structure a project is to put everything on paper. I’m doing a brain dump. And because I like structure, I use workflowy.
That gives me the possibility to shuffle things back and forth and see what I have on my plate.
The next step is planning backward.
Andrea & I work in our business in 6-week sprints with a clear (here comes the word again ;)) structure. That leaves enough space to be creative.
But little room to get lost.
You can read more about this in point #5.
I really cannot set priorities. I think it has to do with the ADHD problem of not having a sense of time because priorities are about deciding what needs to be doing first.
Then second. Then third. And so on.
And prioritizing is like putting a timestamp on an action.
What have we been doing?
We work with something called huddle agenda. That means we usually talk about priorities for 5 minutes every morning. Nothing fancy. Nothing complicated.
What are you going to do – today?
And that question alone can give you a lot of clarity. Because you know the saying that most things on your to-do list don’t get done because they are not a to-do – they are a project?
The question is, what are you going to do – today? It cuts through the noise of overcommitment and at least gives you an idea of whether you have enough.
It’s not perfect.
But the beginning of a habit is where you look at what you have on your plate. Stop for a second, reflect… and then decide if it is a good idea to take even more.
So it’s all about a long-term strategy where you can learn from what did not work well.
What can I do if I have ADHD and work alone?
#1- Start by simply asking yourself: What am I going to do – today? And see if that gets you more on track than not asking.
(You wonder how to remember to ask that question? We’ve got it for you: use adhesive notes, which you can put on most surfaces. They come in lovely colors, which you will see.)
#2 – Find someone who joins you.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be a team member. A VA or someone you hired part-time can also support you.
It can be a friendly neighbor or a neighbor’s son going to college and earning extra money.
And use the framework I talk about in #5.
The frameworks do true miracles in our work.
Focusing is probably the biggest issue for a company’s growth.
Because if you don’t take care of it, it can lead to dozens of unfinished projects, shame, anger, and the fact that you have great ideas – that live a secret life on your computer.
And even if you don’t have ADHD as a business owner, that’s a big deal. I can’t tell you how many of our neurotypical coaching clients do not follow what they set out to do.
Usually, it goes like this:
You do something important like working on your email list to expand your business. And that takes time.
It would help if you had a lot of marketing to show people you exist—a lot of content and effort before getting that overnight success.
Of course, you know this because you are smart, but – you don’t know how much time it will take, so you get lost in space, as I call it.
And that leads to something psychologists have done lots of experiments. Let me paraphrase the results: Most of us prefer 1,000 Dollars now to 5,000 Dollars tomorrow.
This fact may sound stupid; still, it’s true.
Our brain is not wired to wait, even without ADHD. It is more like my cat when I tell it, “you’ll get food in a minute.”
He does not understand what a minute is and why he should wait. And he demonstrates this very eloquently.
To make sure Mike & I don’t get distracted with the next shiny thing that looks like the business equivalent of a gigantic chocolate cake, we have – you already guessed it – a framework.
Uncertain what's important right now?
With our Business Focus Finder, it only takes 5 minutes to find out what you should work on in the next 6 weeks.
It also helps you to stay on track and cross the finish line - even if your ADHD causes you trouble with that.
Here’s how it works:
There are specific business forces you should look out for. It depends on how your business is doing in each area; you decide where to put most of your work for 6 weeks.
And don’t worry, we’ll make it easy for you to decide.
You have five business forces, one most critical area, and six weeks of work.
These three steps are the recipe.
Once you know the most critical area, identify one, two, or three specific tasks you want to complete. This depends on approximately how much time each task will take.
You no longer think “I should do this” or “should I do this instead?” just because you read something brand new that everyone should be doing.
You prioritize once and stick to it.
In a way, the overview is connected to each of the above points. And yet, it is different.
Because my problems with the overview almost always lead to not seeing relevant details. And that can lead to all kinds of issues, like not seeing how much time is involved. Not seeing where it leads etc.
An overview is something that misses details and gives you a rough picture.
Imagine being in the air in a plane and seeing the land below you. Depending on where you are in the world you see blue for water. That can be the ocean. Or a river. It can be a lake.
And you see green for forests or grass.
And maybe red for the ground or – in our case in Cyprus – the amber-colored stones.
You don’t see houses, animals or people.
As soon as the plane prepares to land, you discover more details. Streets, maybe lights, cars and so on.
So, the goal with missing overview is two-fold:
#1 – You need to be aware that you need an overview.
Because otherwise, you may freak out and don’t know why. And I’m not making this up. It has happened to me, not funny.
Keep a journal where you write things down. More on that here.
#2 – Realize that by zooming in and out, you can see the details.
What I mean by that is that I use my frameworks and hang them on the wall. That way, they remind me of the direction we are going, for example, with our 6-week sprint.
And I keep my daily to-do list which I keep updating (see #3).
There are many more things we do in our business to keep it running smoothly and well. And I’m sure we will write about that. But these are the 5 things you need to pay attention to if you have ADHD in your team.
I know that can seem like a lot. And it does not seem easy at first. Rather frustrating and certainly also overwhelming.
Why not start with one point and work on it. And let me know in the comments how it went.
P.S. Whenever you're ready … here are three ways we can help you grow your business.
1. Watch our free video course, "The Business Focus Framework."
The shortcut to the most important tasks in your business that helps actually to follow through. It takes 5 minutes to find out what to work on for the next 6 weeks. – Click here.
2. Increase your close rate up to 84% (free guide).This short guide helps you have successful conversations with customers without being pushy or salesy, even if you think you are not good at selling. - Click here.
3. Work with us 1:1.
If you are curious how working with us looks like, hop on the "Work Together" page. And if it speaks to you, schedule your Discover the Possibilities Call by emailing me: I want that! To email@example.com, and I’ll send you a link to our automated scheduling system.