As much as 15-20% of the population is neurodivergent. They often do things in a different way than neurotypical people. A team with neurodivergent and neurotypical people results in 30% more productivity. No wonder, then, that neurodiversity is becoming increasingly important in the workplace.
Neurodiversity is a term you hear more and more often. In short, it is about the natural variation in our brains. According to the neurodiversity model, neurodiversity is not a disorder but a form of diversity, just like gender and ancestry.
Neurodiversity expresses itself in different ways, and there are different labels for brains that process information differently, such as: giftedness, ADHD or autism, but also dyslexia or dyscalculia, for example.
This does not mean that a neurodivergent brain is less capable, but that it possesses different qualities than a neurotypical brain. Creativity, greater sensitivity, pattern recognition or tremendous focus are all among them. But how do you recognise neurodiversity, also known as cognitive diversity, in the first place? And how do you deploy this knowledge effectively in the workplace and in education?
Knowledge about neurodiversity comes in handy while hiring staff or creating teams. This is because it has been proven that diversity (including ethnic and cognitive diversity), leads to the optimal development of organisations.
The reason? Because team members challenge and complement each other, they are encouraged to execute strategy more creatively and efficiently. As employee satisfaction increases, this creates a higher level of psychological safety, which in turn boosts the working atmosphere.
Neurodivergent brains process information differently. This can manifest itself in difficulty with arithmetic (dyscalculia), reading and writing (dyslexia) or difficulty with attention (ADHD or ADD). At school, this can manifest itself in more difficulty learning, sitting still and keeping an overview. Moreover, this can be accompanied by stress or fear of failure, because they feel different from the rest. Adults can also encounter the same problems in work life, until they receive a diagnosis, by which time it is often ‘too late’ and they are mentally or physically ill.
But it is precisely processing information differently, at the same time, that creates very valuable talents:
Understanding and responding to the unique needs and strengths of neurodiverse employees is important to effectively support and develop them.
By David Lewis and Alison Reynolds
If cognitive diversity/neurodiversity is what we need to succeed in dealing with new, uncertain, and complex situations, we need to encourage people to reveal and deploy their different modes of thinking. We need to make it safe to try things multiple ways. This means leaders will have to get much better at building their team’s sense of psychological safety.
Since much of our lives take place at work, it is essential that organisations pay close attention to cognitive diversity. Besides creating teams with enough (neuro)diversity, one idea would be to make small adjustments to accommodate neurodivergent people.
It is important to start creating awareness around neurodiversity early. Therefore, it is a good idea to pay attention to this already in education and create space for this. There are often very large classes, where there is less time to guide pupils individually.
Also, no or few resources are offered for pupils with poorer concentration skills. And digital education, now that lockdowns are over again, is not an option for pupils who might experience more peace of mind this way.
With more awareness of neurodiversity or cognitive diversity, neurodivergent people can be prevented from dropping out more often. Then psychological symptoms can be prevented, caused by people struggling to keep up in a society largely made for neurotypical brains.
At Human Insight, we test cognitive and neurodiversity using the AEM-Cube®. This assessment maps what people are naturally predisposed to, and how they cope with change and complexity. The preference of each team member is represented in a cube to map the strategic dynamics within teams and organisations. This neurodiversity test facilitated by the AEM-Cube can be used by individuals, teams and organisations and contributes to growth and performance.
Test the level of neurodiversity within your team with the AEM-Cube or get to work on developing a working environment where everyone feels valued.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call +31 (0)85 8229827.
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