We sat down with two of our Consultants Claire and Oli, and would like to take a moment to thank them for sharing and speaking so openly about their ADHD irrespective of it being a month of awareness. When our employees are happy to share and have very thought provoking conversations about matters of such high importance with us, we consider it to be a big step forward in promoting positive conversations and fostering inclusivity.
What does ADHD mean to you?
I think ADHD is a spectrum, and I think everyone can have ADHD in a different way. Not every person looks the same as the next person, essentially what it means is you are not able to self-regulate.
If you were to put a person with ADHD in a situation where there is structure, urgency and pressure they can perform exceptionally well- like the military for instance.
But as soon as you let that person go off to their own device then that’s when people with ADHD start to suffer a little bit because we are not able to self-regulate. That can be in work, in relationships, exercise, eating, hygiene- everything.
Growing up, I didn’t really know what ADHD was, I just thought I was an annoying naughty child. That’s the way it came across to a lot of people.
I was always acutely aware of how annoying I was to other people, and I used to make a concerted effort to try and hide my ADHD when I first started to realise I had it. And then now my thing is there’s such good awareness that I tell everyone I’ve got ADHD as soon as I meet them, so they know what they let themselves in for.
It’s funny you mention that, because I didn’t know that I had ADHD until last March when my therapist said to me because I was sick of how I was about things. I’m an all or nothing person, and struggled to focus, I’ve been saying for a couple of years, I wish I could focus all my energy and have it like a laser.
I thought that was my personality. And I always felt very, as you said, ostracised and, you know, not neuro divergence is ADHD.
Now there’s such great awareness and the Neurodiversity Week and all the other stuff that goes with that, that really spreads awareness because there’s probably a lot of people in the workplace, not just in recruitment in I.T. and tech in general that have ADHD. Their managers and people might not be aware of it and it can really lend benefit to the job they do. But it’s also important that people are aware of it because it is something that can really affect people. If you find someone annoying and you react to that in the wrong way, you don’t actually realise they can’t help it and it can cause problems, Parallels been very accommodating of my ADHD.
You mentioned there, Parallel have been very accommodating, what would you say is something that probably impacts you the most at work in regards to ADHD?
I think for me personally and the way the ADHD affects me is my doing my admin on like the on the system, so if I have CVS to send out obviously that requires formatting and then obviously writing all the emails and everything and then putting them on the system and stuff like that.
That feels like a huge thing to do for me and I really, really have to psych myself up to do it. Theres a lot of steps that go into it and I really struggle with because again, it just it feels like a really arduous task for me to do and that does affect me because I have all these great candidates in there that I need to send out. I’ve gone to the all the trouble of pulling the job, you know, speaking to the candidates, getting great people, getting them, you know, interested and everything. And then I can’t quite do the last bit of the process, which is which is yeah, it can be very frustrating.
It’s exactly the same for me. I hate bullhorn with a passion as much as I love it at the same time. In terms of admin, I’m always aware of needing to do it, but I struggle to sit still, like my legs ache if I’m not moving so it makes it even more of a task.
What’s good about recruitment is its so fast paced, some people say ‘Oh I’m too busy’ but I’m like give me more to do, more issues and work to do.
I think in some ways recruitment is built for people with ADHD in terms of the sales part (but the admin not so much) I work in contract recruitment which is very fast paced which my brain responds well too.
I did contract recruitment up until a couple of years and loved it, I love the fast pace, the different jobs all the time. The variability of it all, and the working under pressure, you know we need to get 10 CVs in the next hour and we’re up against 10 other recruitment agencies.
I’m a very result driven person but I do like to do things my own way, I don’t really know how to describe it, I would say I don’t really follow a process or a structure as such. I do have one but I can’t tell you what it is, I find it very frustrating when people ask me or tell me to do things in a way that is not how I work, because it’s how they work and they’re successful- but it doesn’t work for me.
And Oli you’re right, it’s about having that understanding and awareness that not everyone works in the same way, as long as you’re getting results then why does it matter?
I often struggle with switching between tasks, I have to spend one day doing one role, or dedicated to a client or something, and then the next day I can move onto something else. I can’t switch it up and do three different roles at once like other people can.
Then that creates questions such as ‘why are you not switching it up?’ or ‘why are you not more organized?’ it can be really frustrating and feels like someone’s checking up on me when they ask me why I’m not doing something a specific way, which makes me want to do it even less!
I started management this year and have found it quite hard to delegate and then I go to do it myself because I’m so used to juggling so much and I thrive off it.
What can employees do to better support those with ADHD at work?
General awareness, in the office sometimes and it’s not these people’s faults but before they didn’t realise I have ADHD and are like ‘sit down’ or ‘stop moving about, stuff like that’ and I’m quite thick skinned as it is, but it can be a bit ignorant. Although I probably can’t even call it ignorant because they aren’t aware or understand, ADHD is just four letters to them. So, I think business can spread more awareness but then also people need to be more honest as well, I know some people find it quite hard to admit they have ADHD.
In terms of tangible factors, there’s not really any tools or anything like that, aside from just let that person do their job, but do it in a way they see fit. It may not be the most conventional way, but it’s a bit of a non-negotiable unless you want to give them new brain or something!
So, I think mainly just awareness and allowing the person that freedom to work in their way along as they achieve results.
There is one thing our Office Manager does for me that’s really helpful, so say if I have a deadline for something, I will often forget about the deadline, so she’d set me a reminder an hour so before it needs doing; for example, on a Friday we have to get all of our weekly activity on the system by a certain time. An hour out she emails and reminds me to get it done so that last hour I will do it, and it may seem more frantic than the way other people work but I get it done. But it really helps, because the time is allocated, rather than a warning 10 minutes before as there’s no chance of getting it done.
You would like to think I’d have done it all the way throughout the week, but its not how I do things so a timeframe on the day of deadline works for me.
The last thing comes back to understanding you know, if I am a bit loud when I’m on the phone, its not because I lack self-awareness or when I interrupt you, you know I’m not doing it on purpose. Often I’m just excited, I want to tell you what I need to tell you and maybe I’m a bit impulsive, so just really having that understanding from the rest of the team and also not calling people who have ADHD ‘weird’ because I’ve been called all sorts of names – not at Parallel- but previously but it’s not nice.