By Patsy Webb, M.A.Ed.S., and FLC Career Coach
1) Raise your expectations
One attitude I meet when walking in the door of a new employment opportunity with a coaching client is hesitance. This often means the workplace manager has very low expectations for the new hire and provides only a short list of tasks.
Most of the time, the manager has little experience working with someone who has learning differences or disabilities. Even if the manager has met the new employee during the interview process, there is usually just a vague idea of how this new employee is going to be able to help the business and be part of the team.
Honestly, I am always excited when this happens … because I know the new employee will far exceed these expectations!
2) Approach the situation with optimism
Sometimes, on the other hand, I meet an attitude of defeatism because of either a previous negative experience or a general fear about how to communicate with the new team member. This attitude is a much harder barrier to overcome.
At times, I have been hired to step into a situation that is going badly already and the employee may be about to lose their job after frequent miscommunication and negative feedback from all sides. This type of situation takes much more time, requiring a period of observation to problem solve what might be going wrong. But if the manager has a willingness to help solve the issues, then even this kind of situation can turn into a positive experience.
3) Refresh your perspective – success isn’t magic!
No matter the attitudes and expectations, I have found that having a career coach step in to support an employee who has a disability can make all the difference in the world!
What is the magic touch? Why is this support so important to success? It’s actually no magic at all! Career coach support often involves reminders to have:
- high expectations
- regular accountability and feedback
- clear communication, and
- kind words of affirmation provided as often as possible
A career coach can bring a fresh perspective and improved experience when working with employees who have different learning styles and communication skills. Learning soft skills, having time and space to practice, and hands-on experience are all keys to success for every employee on the team and they make long-term job retention a reality.
Making every job accessible and problem-solving with simple modifications are part of my everyday experience as a career coach. Working within a variety of employment fields helps me bring fresh ideas and perspectives to each new situation.
4) Focus on bridge-building
Hiring a career coach is like building a two-way bridge connecting people with their careers. When we open up positive communication and create a sense of belonging, new employees are more likely to learn job tasks more quickly and stay in their roles longer.
As a career coach who specializes in working with teens/adults with disabilities, I have the opportunity to watch the joy that comes when employers are pleasantly surprised by their new employees and all that they contribute to the team!
By Patsy Webb, M.A.Ed.S., C.E.S.P., Service Learning & Employment Specialist
Patsy Webb joined FLC in 2017, and holds a master’s degree in Special Education from the University of Iowa. As a Certified Employment Support Professional, she brings more than 25 years’ experience teaching students, from preschool to high school, with special needs.
For more information on career coaching services contact: