Lucas had worked for a Product Development Company for several years. He had always been a creative and dynamic Product Developer with a real knack for understanding what his customers required and for coming up with new and exciting ideas. He was a well-respected member of staff within his company. He regularly worked extra hours to complete projects in his own time and had always met the deadlines. Lucas had been a reliable, effective and valuable asset to his company, who had consistently gained repeat business.
In September 2015, Lucas’s performance suddenly slipped dramatically. He often refused to take part in vital team meetings and generally became very uncommunicative. He refused to submit paperwork and became uncharacteristically stressed and anxious. He also showed a great reluctance to engage with the new management and their changed practices.
The new management of the company had decided to introduce tighter deadlines and project budgets. They now insisted on formal management processes, paper trails for expenditure, and fully documented PDRs. This was introduced to gain tighter control over the company’s employees, cut unnecessary expenditure and make the company more profitable. The management style within the company had previously been quite informal and had put emphasis much more on the creative side of product development.
Lucas was given a formal warning that he would be the subject of a disciplinary process if he didn’t improve his conduct. Lucas’s line manager, however, who valued his creativity and work ethic very highly, decided to investigate Lucas’s symptoms and started to suspect that he could have autistic traits. He convinced Lucas and the company’s management that in order to restore him to the valuable employee that he once had been and to avoid the costly consequences of a dismissal, an autism consultancy firm should undertake a workplace assessment.
Aspiedent CIC was called in to assess Lucas’s workplace environment and working practices, with particular emphasis on his understanding of the new processes.
We recommended a number of simple strategies concerning change management procedures for Lucas and that reasonable adjustments should be made with reference to the management style. These measures were implemented for Lucas and the situation improved very quickly.
Following the positive outcome of this case, the company decided to introduce autism awareness training for all managers to enable them to pick out other members of staff who might be struggling, whether diagnosed or not. Those directly involved with known and suspected autistic members of staff received autism understanding training.
Lucas never became the subject of a disciplinary process and continues to gain a large amount of repeat business for his company.
I am now finally able to understand things people have tried to get me to understand for ages. It has enabled me to understand networking, and to understand what different relationships are meant to be. Now I can learn to play the same game, by the same rules, as [non-autistic] people.
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