How to Work with a Team Member with ADHD

When you get a group of people with different personalities to work in a close-knitted space like in an office, a spark can cause communication breakdown, conflict and disagreement.

For most of us, having an eccentric colleague can be frustrating to work with. In one minute, they are brilliant and reliable. The next minute, they will be hard to understand. Some of us may think that they are lazy and horsing around.

But, you may not know that your coworker may be unable to focus because he or she has ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and those with this disorder are quickly judged by their peers and easily misunderstood.

Understanding the background of ADHD and how you can work with them, will only add benefits to your workplace and prevent discrimination among your team.

What is ADHD?

People with ADHD often show a variety of behavioral symptoms such as hyperactivity, inattentiveness and others. A majority of people with ADHD show a lot of these symptoms and they start appearing during childhood.

For some people, the symptoms they show are mild and only have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). People with ADD can’t concentrate well but they don’t have hyperactivity. Sometimes, it is not obvious they have ADD because the symptoms are not prominent.

How to Make it Easier to Work with a Team Member with ADHD?

If you have someone in the team who has ADHD, you need to support them as they try their best to control their symptoms despite their condition.

If they let you know they have ADHD:

  • Listen to them with an open mind
  • Ask for their advice on what you can do to help them to perform their best
  • Find out your company’s policies for people with disabilities

Here are some tips to help you out as you work with a team member with ADHD.

Change your approach

Since people with ADHD work differently, you should ask them what approach they find easy to work with. Ask them if they have a preferred way on getting instructions or doing tasks. You can also sort out special training or new activities that can help out with their problem.

Change Your Workplace

To help your colleague focus, you can change your workplace to make it more conducive. You can remove all the distractions in the room to help your colleague focus better and keep the office quiet. If that doesn’t work, noise-cancelling headphones can do the trick.

You can also sort out regular breaks once your colleague starts showing signs of hyperactivity. Providing a private quiet place like an empty meeting room will help a lot.

Get everyone to help out

Getting your colleague to focus while with ADHD is tricky since you have to change a lot of things in the office. Some of your other colleagues may become irritated with the changes.

However, you can avoid this by letting others become aware about the situation (with the approval of your colleague, of course). You can show them how they can help and ask who is ready to become a mentor for your teammate.

Remember, ignorance breeds contempt.

Set the limits

Even if your colleague needs your help, you have to make sure you don’t do their work for them or make it too easy for them. You need to make sure that you set the limits as to where you can help and ensure that you have enough space to also do your tasks.

Just remember to be clear with your instructions and the deadline for their tasks. They need empathy, not sympathy.

Final thoughts

Having a teammate with ADHD can bring in a new perspective to how you handle a project. While they do have problems concentrating, they can flourish in things they are passionate about. I do hope that this article will throw some light and awareness and you can help them succeed in work, they can lead your team to success in your projects.

For more articles to help to make your workplace a wonderful and safe environment to work in, check out these:
What Is A Toxic Workplace?
Tips For Maintaining a Healthy Workplace

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14 Comments Add yours

  1. Thanks Kally,

    God makes us ALL good; though different.
    Everyone can contribute something unique.

    At times getting everyone to participate is a challenge; buy hey! That’ is the story of life that each of us gets to “write.”

    God Bless, Patrick

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Kally says:

      Yes, indeed. I always tell folks to have adventures and see positively because everything you do and experience is a new chapter in your life. Thanks, Patrick!


    1. Kally says:

      Thank you, Kevin.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. seanarchy says:

    Thanks for posting this. I have the disorder, and my past workplaces were NOT sympathetic to my needs. The disorder is very real, but carries many strengths, too, if nurtured.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Kally says:

      As people are getting more aware in diagnosing their disorders, there will be more and more people will to come out to their workplace as long as there’s no discrimination. I believe it takes heart and effort and you can create a wonderful working environment for those who have disorders.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Good advice, Kally!

    One of my colleagues has ADHD, and I already incorporate several of your ideas, though the others warrant additional consideration too. Bookmarked for additional study later!

    As with most things, our own attitudes can make a world of difference. Condescension is a bad idea (“Sigh – I guess we have to make special allowances for you.” is totally wrong). However, engaging and encouraging those with ADHD often leads to unexpected triumphs.

    And you’ve just provided a map to even more treasure, Kally. Thanks!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Kally says:

      Thank you so much. I do hope that everyone has equal opportunities at their workplace. We all need to be understanding and patient. We all need help in one time or another. Let’s create a wonderful inclusive workplace for everyone!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Very helpful information! It’s really better for everyone long-term if the different neurological make-ups of team members are supported rather than being ignored or pushed down.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Kally says:

      Thank you for contributing your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. holistickei says:

    This was a great read!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Kally says:

      Thank you so much and welcome to MiddleMe!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. charlypriest says:

    Great advice.
    Unfortuanately my ADHD is so far gone there is no remedy, the other day I was removing some bricks from a wall (get paid a little for those little jobs), and took the pile of bricks to the van we came in to that house in, when they yelled at me what in the world I was doing, I just said “got you, so you where paying attention” as in a prank…. I was just thinking about words and what to write, rhymes, constantly in my head. I’m pretty sure I won’t get hired from those two again.


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