Hire Autistics

Now that’s a directive you rarely hear. Yet companies—software giant SAP for one–are recruiting people with autism in order to take advantage of their particular skills. What’s the learning for the rest of us?

Everyone has something to offer.

According to Robert D. Austin and Thorkil Sonne’s blogpost on today’s HBR Blog Network “The Case for Hiring ‘Outlier’ Employees,” SAP understands that “people with autism have an exceptional ability to focus on the repetitive, detailed work of software testing.” It’s not charity; it’s a sound business decision.

Look around your own office. Are you underutilizing or, worse yet, not giving staffers the chance to apply their best skills? Would one of your people contribute more if they were in another department? Is the “problem” with one of your staff that their skills don’t match the evolving needs of your department?

Environments change. Staffer’s “sweet spots” usually don’t. A mismatch between the two—environment + what your team members bring to the party—is often a recipe for corporate suffering. What are you going to do about it?

Amanda Mitchell is an executive coach and strategist specializing in helping senior executives deal with disruptive drama within their teams. An advertising agency veteran, she experienced first-hand the business implications of corporate drama both with her Fortune 500 clients and within the Manhattan ad agency she led. She founded Our Corporate Life (www.ourcorporatelife.com) to help executives solve the problems no one wants to deal with. She has been published in Bloomberg Businessweek, and quoted in Fast Company, CNBC.com, and Monster.com. She lives in New Jersey with her family.

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