The way learning and living is complicated when we have trouble with organization

Archive for December, 2008

Supervising an employee with EDF

Hi Kristin,

Thank you for your excellent website.  I wasn’t able to find a link on how to paste a question on the EDF blog, so I’m writing to you instead 🙂

I work with (supervise) a woman that I suspect may have some executive dysfunction.  As a side note, her son has diagnosed ADHD and Tourette’s.  I am searching for some ideas on how to work with her more effectively.  She is certainly intelligent and often surprises me with her insight.

The issues of concern involve her not always “connecting the dots”, low productivity and the time it takes for her to complete tasks, and lack of follow-through.  A simple example, her cube was a disaster and I know from experience that she doesn’t work well in those conditions – she starts to spin her wheels and becomes totally unproductive.  I asked her a couple of times to clean her workspace and saw no progress.  In speaking to my mentor (because I was frustrated at what appeared to be a lack of respect and follow-through, and needing to talk it through with someone wiser than me!), she suggested to me that perhaps my employee has some executive dysfunction.  I did some Internet research and wow was that helpful!  As luck would have it, the emloyeed asked for help and we then together sorted through all the piles of paper, placed like items in folders, and grouped the folders into a few major subject groups.  It wasn’t that she was unwilling to do the task, she really couldn’t seem to get started, and had difficulty with the organization process.

Anyway, I’m struggling with how I might more effectively supervise this woman in a way that she doesn’t find demeaning or micro-managing.  Do you have any links you could direct me to?  I’ve worked very hard to develop a good working relationship with her, and we work well as a team.  However, sometimes it seems that very small occurrences (what she considers lapses on my part, such as forgetting to cc her on an email) easily threaten the relationship.  Perhaps that is the sensitivity piece of the ED.  It is very important to her that she not be left out of anything, and that she receives credit for any good work she does.  I’m aware of this and do it to the best of my ability, but not perfectly – which she is quick to point out to me, with quite a bit of emotion.

Before I ramble any further, I should send this email off and see if you have any time to help.  Thank you so much.