:x My boss is not only a high D, he's ADHD with no memory capacity.
I have asked for one on one's (he never responded), sent meeting notices (no response), used Outlook's voting buttons for simple answers, and no matter what approach our team takes-he will not be budged until he's ready. Of course then, it's the end of the world, he has panic attacks, runs around the office and becomes a micromanager. Then, we can't get his attention until the next crisis.

I'm exahusted with trying to modify my behavior, every time something happens, I purposely try something new just to see if I have any luck. So far, crying is all that got his attention. (Which I hate to do-and only when I am angry)

I want to do well and be sucessful, but I don't know what to do to help him and help myself. Suggestions?

lazerus's picture

This is very interesting to me. I have a direct report who has adult ADHD and is [b]very difficult[/b] to manage. Being a C, I have thouroughly researched this :). He is also the high D type. Some of his more difficult behaviors related to this include (from The Greater Rochester Attention Deficit Disorder Association, [url][/url], "ADDult ADD CRITERIA" by Edward M. Hallowell, M.D. and John J. Ratey, M.D.):

[list]A sense of underachievement, of not meeting one's goals (regardless of how much one has actually accomplished).
Difficulty getting organized.
Chronic procrastination or trouble getting started.
Many projects going simultaneously; trouble with follow-through.
Tendency to say what comes to mind without necessarily considering the timing or appropriateness of the remark.
An ongoing search for high stimulation.
A tendency to be easily bored.
(Dr. Ned noted that a common reaction to boredom is to create something, even if it's only inside your mind, to break the boredom . . even if that something isn't actually present.)
Easy distractibility, trouble focusing attention, tendency to tune out or drift away in the middle of a page or a conversation, often coupled with an ability to hyperfocus at times.
Often creative, intuitive, highly intelligent.
Trouble in going through established channels, following proper procedure.
Impatient; low tolerance for frustration.
Impulsive, either verbally or in action, as in impulsive spending of money, changing plans, enacting new schemes or career plans, and the like.
Tendency to worry needlessly, endlessly; tendency to scan the horizon looking for something to worry about alternative with inattention to or disregard for actual dangers.
Sense of impending doom, insecurity, alternating with high risk-taking.
Mood swings, depression, especially when disengaged from a person or a project.
Tendency toward addictive behavior.
Chronic problems with self-esteem.
Inaccurate self-observation.
I have examples of all of this everyday. Since this person is going to take on a supervisory role for us in the next month, I am worried that he will not only implode at the job, but cause egregious business disruption by damaging the delicate relationships on our team.

A couple of other background notes: Mr. ADHD has been at this company longer even than the current owner (my boss), refuses to participate in one-on-ones and therefore makes it difficult for others to fully engage in them, is in charge of buying for our dept., and has struggled tremendously in the two years I have been at the company with power and its responsible use.

Thanks for your time!

asteriskrntt1's picture

Hi Lazarus

Not meaning to take the spotlight from Sarahbk's post and certainly not having full access to your situation, so please help me out here.

Given your employee's history, why is he/she being promoted?


kklogic's picture

From the conference (and hopefully I state this all correctly):

1) Stop trying to get your boss to do O3s. The best you can do is do it with your reports. Once he sees how effective it is, hopefully, he asks you about them.

2) It is up to [b]you[/b] to update your boss on what you are working on. Find whatever communication style he prefers and send it in that format. Ideally, it would be weekly in an O3, monthly in a report and quarterly in the form of a self-evaluation.

lazerus's picture

Hi all,
asterisk: We are making some organizational changes as part of a quality improvement process. One of the changes creates a scheduling manager position. Because of this person's general knowledge of the business, it was decided to give him the job. Other team members will be cross trained to fill his old position. We have yet to implement this. This was not my idea. AND, that is an excellent question: given his history, why IS he being promoted? :?

To sarahbk- in addition, if you refer to the "Peer Feedback" podcast, Mark and Mike do say that the modified feedback model can be used in select situations, without the "what can you do differently?" part. Maybe you could get him when he's in a decent mood, then say " Boss, may I give you some feedback? (He may elect to say no, at which point you accept that). If yes, you say, "When you freak out on us at the last minute after forgetting everything we've told you for the last 8 weeks, it makes you look like you don't know what you're doing as a boss"; or some VERY TACTFUL phrasing that communicates to his high D nature- what's in it for him? Delivered directly, without emotion, may have some effect. Good luck, please tell us if or how this develops.

Thanks all! Any other input is greatly appreciated.

sarahbk's picture

ADHD without meds is tough-ask me how I know, I live with it every day as an adult. The biggest difference to me is having medication, making modifications, and simply knowing my shortcomings. Sounds like your direct report and my boss have little self awareness.

As a High I (I think), I am constantly offended by the behavior, though I understand it well. The only time I am successful getting his attention is when I very directly (and I mean very directly) tell him he's wrong. When I match his intensity, it causes him to slow down. If only for a little while.

At least you don't have to worry about being fired...:)

sarahbk's picture

My last response was without seeing everyone's comments-
Thus far I have tracked my information, submitted for review, written my own position description and have been either: Deleted as unread or never discussed.

When I have used the Feedback Model he reminds us he is too busy and he just can't committ to anything. "If you want to talk to me-call my cell phone." I did-no answer, no response to voicemail request, or the voice mail is full and you can't leave a message.

My only success is having a face to face discussion with someone else in the room to remind him we did have a conversation. That, and reminding him I have documentation of every conversation seems to help on occassion.

RichRuh's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge


One of the points that Mark brought up at the conference over and over again was to not try to manage your boss. In his words, "If you tell the boss the truth, the truth will set you free." (hopefully, I remembered that properly).

Do your job- get results. Send him a weekly update. Mark usually suggests verbal. In your case it might be better to follow up with an e-mail summary. Once a quarter, send him a self-evaluation of yourself (there's a podcast on this). Your achievements and the results of your team will be documented.

And try to hang in there. If he is as bad as you say he is, he's not going to last long.

The only other viable alternative would be to find another job, perhaps in your organization, perhaps not.


trandell's picture

Rich is right on this. The probability of getting good results is low, so you are best served by doing your job the best you can. If your boss is impacting you that heavily, you need to consider moving on. It's a tough answer to swallow, but it's the most realistic scenario.

Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge


Unless you can do your job and achieve high results without anything from your boss*, move on.


* - Don't dismiss this out of hand. The ADD will also help you fly under the radar, in my experience.

sarahbk's picture

Thanks all for your suggestions.
As my boss is the owner of the company, I have to figure this out-he won't be going anywhere!

The ADD does help fly under the radar!! I've decided to try to avoid any projects that require his input and defer to others on my team. Also, I'm pleased to say now that I'm pregnant, my boss has given me a break!

Working in Emergency Response (internationally and state-side) doesn't give you a break often. I'm going to take it where I can get it, keep my resume updated, and listen to my manager tools... :)

Thanks again for the kind words!

Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

"Tell your boss the truth, and the truth shall set you free."

There's no if, and there IS an AND.

Maybe not Manager Tools managers (though I think more than most would admit)...but still WIDELY true.

A closed mouth gathers no foot.