When the Pictures Don’t Line Up

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Do you have team members that seemed great in the interview, are beloved by clients, and seemed to really be going somewhere but they just can’t get organized, keep making careless errors, or have trouble focusing?

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If this sounds like one of your team members, you’ve probably wondered if he or she is just lazy or disorganized. But if his or her performance and perceived intelligence don’t line up, he or she could have an undisclosed learning difference.

Learning differences are neurologically based processing differences that, at a fundamental level, interfere with the development of skills such as reading, writing, and math. Adults with learning differences can experience challenges with higher-level skills such as organization, time planning, abstract reasoning, long or short-term memory, and attention. Although considerably studied in early childhood education, learning differences have not been adequately examined in adulthood, especially in the workplace.

As a manager, it is essential to understand how to work with employees with learning differences to maximize their value on your team and avoid assumptions of laziness or a lack of motivation.

Strengths of Team Members with Learning Differences

A study of 300 business leaders found that 40% of them self-identified as dyslexic.

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