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Utilizing Neurodivergent Employees for Managerial Innovation




Neurodiversity is a term used to describe the wide spectrum of cognitive abilities and disabilities that exist in the world. Neurodivergent people demonstrate different types of intelligence, exhibit unique strengths and weaknesses, and often demonstrate unique leadership styles. These differences affect productivity, innovation, creativity at work, and how we as managers relate to our employees—all factors that influence managerial success. By embracing neurodiversity within our organizations, we can better connect with employees while also maximizing their strengths.

Neurodivergent people demonstrate different types of intelligence.

Neurodiversity is the diversity of human brains. While neurotypical people have a brain that processes information in a way that is considered “normal”, neurodivergent people are those whose brains process information differently. Neurodiverse employees may be on the autism spectrum, have ADHD or dyslexia, or some other neurological condition.

Neurodivergent individuals demonstrate different types of intelligence and learning styles than those who are neurotypical. For example, someone with dyslexia may see patterns differently than their peers because they perceive visual information in a different way than most people do. Because they learn in ways that differ from those who are not dyslexic, this employee will excel at tasks like pattern recognition (the ability to spot patterns), but may struggle with tasks involving rote memorization or reading comprehension due to their inability to recognize letters as language symbols easily (this can be addressed by utilizing technology such as text-to-speech software).

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Neurodiverse employees often display unique strengths.

  • Neurodiverse employees often display unique strengths.
  • For example, individuals with autism often have an incredible ability to focus on repetitive tasks and are extremely detail-oriented — a trait that makes them excellent at working with data.
  • In addition to these skills, neurodivergent employees may also demonstrate heightened memory, which can help increase productivity and efficiency in the workplace.
  • Managers should take advantage of these strengths by assigning tasks that match up with the employee’s skill set.

Neurodiverse employees often exhibit unique weaknesses.

While neurodiverse employees often exhibit unique strengths, they may also have difficulties with social cues and time management. For example, an employee with ADHD can be easily distracted by stimuli in their environment and have difficulty filtering out irrelevant information.

This can cause problems for the employee’s manager, who may communicate important instructions to them at a time when their focus is elsewhere. The manager must be able to clearly and concisely communicate instructions to his or her employees so that they are able to understand what needs to be done in order for the project or team goals to be met.

If you work with someone who has ADHD or another condition that affects attention span, it’s important that you follow these steps when giving instructions:

  • Give one instruction at a time; don’t try and discuss multiple tasks at once
  • Repeat yourself if necessary—and don’t feel bad about doing so! If your employee seems confused after hearing something once or twice, keep explaining until they understand completely

Neurodiverse employees often demonstrate unique leadership styles, including several strengths and weaknesses.

Leadership styles are not static, and they can be learned and improved upon. Leaders who have been found to perform well in certain situations may not necessarily be the best choice for others. The cultural context of a situation can also influence leadership style preferences as well as organizational values, which is why it’s important for managers to understand how their employees perceive them as leaders.

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A manager who understands his or her own strengths and weaknesses will be better equipped to complement these traits with those of other employees on a team or in an organization at large. This means recognizing when teams need someone who is more introverted than extroverted, or someone who has broad knowledge over one who specializes in one area (the latter being known as “T-shaped” expertise).

Managers can mitigate neurodivergent employee weaknesses by matching the employee to their respective strength.

When matching an employee to a task, it is important that managers take into account both the strengths and weaknesses of their employees. In addition to helping mitigate neurodivergent employees’ weaknesses, focusing on strengths will also help create an environment where they can thrive.

In some cases, it may be necessary for managers to give those with Asperger’s syndrome tasks that require them to work independently with minimal supervision. For example, if you have an individual on your team who excels at creating spreadsheets but struggles when interacting with people in social settings, he may be better suited for spreadsheet creation than customer service roles.

With this approach in mind, managers can more easily employ neurodivergent employees within their organization while mitigating any potential pitfalls associated with doing so.

Diverse work environments have the potential to inspire creativity.

A diverse work environment has the potential to inspire creativity and innovation, especially when it involves neurodivergent employees. In a study published by the Journal of Management, researchers from Spain and France found that organizations with more diverse work environments are more likely to develop new products and services and experience higher growth rates than their less-diverse counterparts. The study also noted that innovative ideas were more likely to come from people in multi-cultural companies who had less restrictive mindsets than those in homogenous groups.

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These findings suggest that managers should take advantage of neurodiversity in their organizations by creating an open environment where staff members feel comfortable sharing ideas freely across various departments or functions. Such an environment will encourage interdepartmental communication while also providing opportunities for collaboration among different types of mindsets—a combination which may ultimately lead us toward creating innovative solutions through cross-pollination between fields like technology and entrepreneurship (or psychology).

Managers should focus on the positive aspects of neurodiversity rather than following an outdated standard of normativity.

In order for managers to be able to manage neurodivergent employees, they must first understand that neurodiversity is not a homogeneous group of people. In fact, each person with a neurological difference brings their own unique set of skills and talents to the workplace. It is important for managers to recognize this diversity in order to create an inclusive work environment where all employees feel comfortable being themselves at work.

Managers should embrace neurodiversity in the workforce in order to inspire innovation and creativity across departments.

Think about your workplace. Are you working with a diverse group of employees? This doesn’t just mean racial diversity, but also gender, sexual orientation, religious affiliation and so on. Do you have any neurodiverse employees in your ranks?

If not, consider how managers can encourage them to come forward and engage their innate creativity by making the workplace more welcoming for those with cognitive differences.

By embracing neurodiversity in the workplace, managers will inspire innovation across departments—and in turn lead to greater success for the organization as a whole.


Managers should focus on the positive aspects of neurodiversity rather than following an outdated standard of normativity.

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