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ADHD at Work

Disciplined at Work

I’ve worked at this company for 5 years and I’ve had three managers. The first one was horrible and gave me bad reviews which are still on my record. The only reason I’m still with the company is that I got a new manager who was amazing. She knew ADHD and knew what to say to push me to improve while letting me be honest with her when I was struggling. She was the one who got me the job I have now because it sounded right up my ally. And most of it is, but I’m really struggling with my boss. To borrow the term another person in the group used, she’s “unmotivational”. Just today, she disciplined me for all the things I’m doing wrong and she’s right - my work quality is struggling. The problem is that everything that I do well, she ignores. She’s never given me a pat on the back for anything. I think I’ve just realized that I’m not at all happy here and my work is suffering. But I’m afraid it might be too late. The moment a ‘needs improvement’ gets onto my record, I’ll never be able to get a different position. And I can’t aford to go to another company that will pay me less - I can hardly afford to pay my school loans as it is. What do I do?


Well, I may be a bad influence, as a life-long “free thinker” - but having worked in corporate environments that made me utterly miserable due to their inflexibility and rigid controlling attitude toward employees in general, at some point I realized I just did not want to work for that type of company. I have also worked in minimum wage settings where companies are notoriously obnoxious to employees, control when their staff is allowed to use the bathroom and so forth. I have no tolerance for any of that. I think it’s unethical to treat people that way.

There may be opportunities in academic settings, or the non-profit sector, or in architecture firms or arts organizations where the approach to employee interaction is more respectful.

When I worked for an insurance company I had to keep meticulous records of boring paperwork, and was always getting performance reviews that said I needed to pay more attention to detail. With ADHD, that just wasn’t going to happen. I struggled throughout my twenties to fit into environments that were never going to be a good match, where I was never going to be able to succeed, and where my strengths would never be used. Finally, I just lucked into an office culture where I was allowed to organize my space, control my work flow, track my own progress with tools that work for me, and work independently in an atmosphere where the ethos was that everyone was an adult who should be treated as an equal contributing member of the staff. The reduction in stress just from not having people look over my shoulder all day makes a huge difference.

I started to notice what I am best at, what naturally draws my interest, where I can take the path of least resistance, and try to fit the environment to me instead of contorting myself to fit where I can’t be at my best. There are certain things I need in a work environment in order to function and be effective, like quiet, independence, control of my own space and time, being able to use my training. I will never be a “multi-tasker” or a “people person.” Knowing this, I go out of my way to avoid putting myself in situations where those abilities will be expected.

I know the economy is bad and it can be nerve-wracking to wonder where the jobs are going to come from, but I would encourage you to start looking at options and embrace your differences.

Posted by sdsea on Dec 06, 2013 at 12:00am

Sounds simular to what I just went threw but I lost my job. But I’m here now trying to learn how to not be so impulsive

Posted by Mickey like the Mouse on Mar 06, 2014 at 9:23am

Hi Soul Dreamer,
I suggest you print sdsea’s response and use it as the guide. If you follow that well-blazed trail you will locate a workplace that measures up to your standards. You are conscientious and sensitive and need the right environment to thrive. The amazing manager knew you were a valuable asset to the company. Hold that thought as you navigate the next steps.

Posted by John Tucker, PhD, ACG. ADHD Coach on Mar 08, 2014 at 4:25pm

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