Suggesting someone at work gets assessed for autism?

Discussion in 'education & employment' started by Cloo, Dec 4, 2019 at 11:56 AM.

  1. Cloo

    Cloo Surfeit of lampreys

    So I have a guy reporting into me at work (for nearly a year now), he started round the same time as me doing a parallel job. I’ve long thought he is on the autistic spectrum and now people around him are starting to complain about some of his behaviours – frequently needing approval from someone else before making decisions that are his responsibility; not being very aware when other people have other priorities and are stressed out; generally being a bit blunt with people. And also the fact that he hasn’t really ‘gone anywhere’ in the time that he’s been here (I always think that latter attitude in the workplace is kind of unfair – some people just want to keep their head down and do their job, especially in our field). In terms of his day-to-day job he’s very good at it, super organised and reliable.

    If things go on like this he risks failing his annual review, as the organisation is increasingly going down the route of judging performance by behaviours, but obviously it’s a bit unfair if he may not really be able to meet those behaviours for neurodiversity reasons. I feel I should suggest he consider being evaluated for being on the autism spectrum as it may help create understanding (and stop him getting into a situation where his job’s at risk), but I don’t really know how to do this. Has anyone heard of an employer suggesting this to an employee?
  2. wiskey

    wiskey Albatross Admirer

    How do you know he's not had an assessment at any point?
    muscovyduck and pinkmonkey like this.
  3. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge Raddled old poet

    I’d probably get in touch with an autism organisation and ask their advice. It’s going to be better than mine whatever it is.
    Mation, muscovyduck, marty21 and 4 others like this.
  4. maomao

    maomao 四月她爹

  5. andysays

    andysays Defiantly non-premium member

    Your first sentence is unclear, at least to me.

    What does "reporting into me" mean? Are you in some way responsible for managing or overseeing this employee?
  6. Pickman's model

    Pickman's model every man and every woman is a star

    Must be line manager
    Spymaster likes this.
  7. Cloo

    Cloo Surfeit of lampreys

    I don't... it's crossed my mind that he may have a dx but keep schtum about it!

    Re management, yes, I am his line manager, sorry that wasn't clear. I'm still pretty new to management and have had almost naff-all training in anything connected to it
  8. killer b

    killer b Minimum Waste / Maximum Joy

    Why does he need a formal assessment? If you're aware he need a bit of leeway/support but is otherwise good at his job, and are his actual line manager, can't you just take it into account?
    Mation, BigTom, muscovyduck and 5 others like this.
  9. maomao

    maomao 四月她爹

    I have a diagnosis but would never mention it at work or really want it mentioned at work. I try not to mention it anywhere unless it comes up. If it was causing problems that I was unaware of a quiet word from my line manager would be preferred.
    scifisam, BigTom, muscovyduck and 9 others like this.
  10. 8ball

    8ball Hetero Sapiens

    Agree with killer b and maomao. Another way round this may be best.
    Cloo likes this.
  11. killer b

    killer b Minimum Waste / Maximum Joy

    I'd also caution against the idea that having a formal diagnosis of something or the other will somehow protect someone against inflexible management. This is not the experience of most people I know with disabilities tbh. Better if you think he's at risk of failing his annual review that you fight his corner with them yourself rather than pushing him towards getting diagnosed IMO
  12. Cloo

    Cloo Surfeit of lampreys

    Fair enough. It's occurred to me that a lot of places might not want to know about a dx because they don't want to be opened up to rights challenges and so on. Just thinking aloud about the best way to deal, your perspectives much appreciated.
    Mation likes this.
  13. kabbes

    kabbes "A top 400 poster"

    I agree, and would combine this with a caution that “diagnosis” is shrouded in subjectivity and controversy in any case — this isn’t some kind of clear medical pathology we’re talking about, but an interpretation of somebody’s social skills. People think there’s some kind of bifurcation (even whilst using the word “spectrum”) — there isn’t. So why go there? It’s much better as a manager to view yourself as an advocate on behalf of a good employee than just some kind of conduit to smooth HR’s interaction with them (by providing them with medicalised excuses). So be that advocate using the actual evidence of their work, not some label that a third party does or does not want to attach to them.
    BigTom, Cloo, equationgirl and 2 others like this.
  14. oryx

    oryx Sitting on the bock of the day

    Do you hold regular supervision sessions/one-to-ones in which you've discussed the problematic behaviours and what might be behind them, e.g. lack of confidence in making decisions and why?

    What's he said when you've approached these issues with him?

    I must admit, a lot of these are fairly common traits and I've certainly seen all of them in people I have worked with/managed over the years...but to come to the conclusion that he may be on the autism spectrum seems to be jumping to conclusions a bit too soon.
    tommers and emanymton like this.
  15. equationgirl

    equationgirl Respect my existence or expect my resistance

    I absolutely would not recommend that you ask him to get assessed. It's not your business unless he tells you, and he may well have been tested already as others have pointed out.

    I would broach the issue like this:

    'I wanted to talk to you about something I've noticed. I expect you to be able to make decisions about X on your own, as they are your responsibility, but I notice that often you don't make that decision without approval from Jim or Ted first. Could you explain to me why that is?'

    Depending on what he says you can follow it up with:

    'Seeking unnecessary approvals slows down our processes. So going forwards, I would like you to make these decisions by yourself, without seeking approval from Jim or Ted. What do you need from me to make that happen?'

    The first few times, he may seek your approval instead. Ask him to lay out the options and which one he would choose. Then send him away.

    I don't think his behaviour is necessarily on the spectrum. He may not have been supported properly or encouraged to make decisions on his own. Or he may have and it went horribly wrong in some way.

    It might be helpful if you started by setting out what see his role as and what you expect from him.
    Mation, scifisam, BigTom and 20 others like this.
  16. oryx

    oryx Sitting on the bock of the day

    ^ very much all of this.
    Cloo likes this.
  17. SpookyFrank

    SpookyFrank Self-cleaning oven, the whole bit.

    Yes, this.

    If you don't know how to manage people, don't get a job managing people.
    purenarcotic and emanymton like this.
  18. equationgirl

    equationgirl Respect my existence or expect my resistance

    To be fair, a lot of people get put into management positions without any training.

    I did four years of graduate coaching a developing before getting a people management position. Plus lots of self study. The ask a manager blog is very good
    BigTom and Cloo like this.
  19. kabbes

    kabbes "A top 400 poster"

    Yeah, you do have to learn to be a manager — you can’t expect to be good at it before even starting the job! At least Cloo is seeking advice, not just ploughing in without challenge
  20. equationgirl

    equationgirl Respect my existence or expect my resistance

    Well a significant part of my training to be a manager was looking at how I was treated and actively decide not to treat people like that. I've had some awful managers in my time that I absolutely wanted to be better than.
  21. Winot

    Winot I wholeheartedley agree with your viewpoint

    hash tag and Plumdaff like this.
  22. kropotkin

    kropotkin libcom

    Although I agree that supporting this guy to continue doing his job is the optimum- there is an argument that if he were to get a diagnostic label it would protect him from dismissal on any grounds that he could associate with that label.
  23. FridgeMagnet

    FridgeMagnet Administrator

    Almost everyone IME, and then any training they do get can be pretty bad and just reinforces bad hierarchical attitudes, which they pick up desperately because they have been thrown in at the deep end. You have to be tough, exert power, tell people what to do, not take any talking back - with the figleaf to proper human behaviour being "do it diplomatically" (which can mean assorted NLP garbage).
    muscovyduck and Cloo like this.
  24. mx wcfc

    mx wcfc Well-Known Member

    I have a colleague like this. He is very good at his specialism, and actually quite senior. He is hopeless at work relationships and loses staff like nobody’s business if others don’t keep him in check.
    There is an acceptance that he is somewhere on the autism spectrum but actually in his role obsessive attention to detail isn’t a bad thing.
    He has been parked in a “senior technical specialist” role and people try to keep him away from situations where his lack of personal skills is problematic. it works some of the time.
  25. equationgirl

    equationgirl Respect my existence or expect my resistance

    But only if they are told about a condition that might require reasonable adjustments. An employer should not assume an employee has a condition that requires them.
  26. kabbes

    kabbes "A top 400 poster"

    Since starting studying psychology seriously, I would have to question 90% of what passes for management practice. And I don’t even just mean from a human point of view — it’s bad for the company too.
    equationgirl and 8ball like this.
  27. Lupa

    Lupa Well-Known Member

    If he is doing his everyday job well then I'm not sure what the issue is. Apart from the bluntness and asking for approval in decision making. Maybe the guy is just very stressed out?

    I'd just have a chat with him, if I were in your shoes. Support and a bit of kindness go a long way.
  28. SpookyFrank

    SpookyFrank Self-cleaning oven, the whole bit.

    It's not like there are walk-in autism diagnosis booths available either. When I was looking in to getting myself diagnosed I was told by various people (including some folks on here) that unless I'd got a spare couple of years to spend on an infuriating, humiliating and probably doomed quest I was better off not even trying.
    muscovyduck likes this.
  29. Winot

    Winot I wholeheartedley agree with your viewpoint

    Can an employer ask though?
  30. FridgeMagnet

    FridgeMagnet Administrator

    I would easily prefer to get a bad performance review than volunteer personal information that would then lead to discrimination in the workplace. Even better though would be if I could just be made aware of the bits that were a problem in the system so I could jump through the necessary hoops.
    muscovyduck, oryx, Lupa and 3 others like this.

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