Dealing with ADHD boss?

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Question: My boss, I believe, has a problem with ADHD. Sometimes, he bounces off the walls and is very difficult to keep up with. I try to keep up with him, but lately, I am exhausted by mid-afternoon. I am at the point that I am so frustrated because I am running in circles most of the time.

My boss will tell me he needs to schedule a meeting or various meetings throughout the day. Then, two minutes after we have met regarding his files/meeting requests, etc., he asks me if I have set up the meeting regarding a topic that he never asked me to schedule. So, I continually have to check and re-check my notes for who the invitees are for meeting A or B; then, I have to ask him if his question relates to scheduling meeting A or B. His normal reply: "Oh, no. This is another meeting I am talking about."

Many times, he forgets to give me all of the details.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Diana February 16, 2012 at 6:49 am

I agree with the poster above, I do not see why we are constantly given advice on how to help our bosses do their jobs. They are supposed to help us do our jobs! If they can not do their job, they should not have it.
I also ask myself what good having a HR department is if HR does not support employees. I guess HR departments are there to protect the company, and to pretend to the employees that the company cares about them.
If somebody has ADD, he or she should not be a boss. It’s a simple as that. Bosses are there to organize work and make sure things get done. If they have employees, they should support their employees- that’s what managing is! If they can’t do any of those things. they are not doing their jobs and should be fired. Nobody should be asked to cover for another person’s inability to do their job.


Norman Silva February 16, 2013 at 2:10 pm


The unfortunate thing is that there are so many bosses with ADHD. How does this happen? I suppose because they are always in a flat spin of disorganization and are seen to be energetic.

I had a fat Italian boss with ADHD so that was a double whammy! Being Italian was bad enough – temperamental continental – (I can say that, I’m Spanish) but he couldn’t organize a party in a brewery.

Everything was always last minute and urgent.

I think when one interviews they should ask HR or the interviewer if the supervisor/boss for the position has ADHD – most probably won’t get the job but you’ll have peace of mind.

These people are a pain in the butt. As Diana says – nobody with ADHD should be a boss – it should be an instant disqualification.

It’ll never happen and if you have a boss with ADHD, find another job.


Bruce June 11, 2014 at 3:44 pm

I’m not going to straight out say you have no idea what you’re talking about, but it’s close.

It all depends on the position and it’s requirements. A manager or director responsible primarily for innovation or strategy could do quite well with ADHD, even be better at their job because of it. In this case a personal assistant’s job IS to organize their bosses work, and if you don’t want to do that you should find another job.

As for a manager whose primary task is organizing and keeping track of the details of work, a PA for that person will end up doing their entire job and that’s not a good fit. If you find yourself in this situation, get out!

summary: ADHD = bad/disastrous for mid-level managers and a superpower for strategic or creative executives as long as they surround themselves with people whose strengths complement their own.


Norman Silva June 13, 2014 at 12:02 am


I don’t know if you are replying to my post but if you are, it doesn’t make sense.

How can you say I don’t know what I’m talking about when I am relaying my time with an ADHD boss. I was there.

ADHD people have very often grown up without any discipline and structure in their lives. It’s like “hyperactive” children – the parents are normally wimps – look around.

I’m the other side of sixty and when I grew up there were no hyperactive kids or kids with ADHD or ADD.

As a business owner, I will never employ a person with ADHD. He can look elsewhere for a job.


Norman Silva June 27, 2014 at 3:51 pm

To follow on with my last post about bosses with ADHD – they are often liars. All of them embellished a story and would lie without even thinking about it – it was second nature. This is the sad part about it because they go from lying part of the time to be downright dishonest – all because of the same underlying problem.

Just Google “ADHD liars” and see all the hits.

If they were asked a question they didn’t know the answer to, you could see the “cogs” turning, thinking of something to say.

These people should NEVER be bosses and need to go and work in an environment where they don’t make other people’s lives hell.


ADDMouse October 20, 2010 at 4:37 pm

I have ADD and I suspect that my boss does too (although, I’ve worked for him for a little over 1.5 years and would not dare to suggest that he has it). Surprisingly, I am assistant number eight (or nine?) since he started at this company. From day one, I knew that he was a tough customer and told myself that if he pissed me off or pushed my buttons, I would give it to him straight up. We’ve had and will continue to have our moments, but we’re more like two elks locking horns. Five minutes later he’s forgotten about it and I’ve learned to just let go, as I can bear a grudge in other circumstances. He’s actually quite focused and organized in certain areas, so my services are more like the icing on top of the cake. I would say that if your boss has ADD, and is NOT ORGANIZED than you really will need to provide the structure. In my role, if I were the sole source of structure – the partnership would fail. But like many jobs as an executive assistant, despite having the skills required, you just may not be a good fit and may need to get serious about finding another position. I second all the posters who mention keeping thorough documentation and doing everything by email. I call this “data-driven ” CYA. Since I have ADD, I will have moments where I personally rely heavily on the electronic traffic to determine what I should do next.


anonymous July 23, 2010 at 1:02 pm

I had a boss who TOLD me he had ADHD and working with him was extremely difficult. He even showed me his daily medication. He was abusive and moody to the entire staff. He could never keep his directives straight and acted as though he was never responsible for any miscommunication. My heart goes out to all the parents out there but please be aware that to work with such an individual can be a nightmare. (That is documented as well) This person was an adult, who has never kept a long time job and has primarily consulted throughout his career.
HR is not a good choice for employees to go to. HR is there for the company, not the employees. To be a good corporate employee requires people to not come to HR’s attention.
I would wait it out and see if you can transfer to another position. There is not win win in this kind of situation.


JJpanella November 6, 2009 at 3:15 am

I was hired by a small company owner who has ADHD. He never had an Executive Assistant and his wife convinced him that he needed one. He seemed a bit scattered when we met and admitted that he needed help getting organized and focused. I thought I could handle the challenge. On day one he gave me a list of what he hoped to accomplish and we discussed how to best address his disorganization. He seemed pleased with my suggestions but spent almost no time with me to accomplish any of them. He had all his phone calls transferred to me and sat me at a desk in the middle of the office entry area. He stressed the importance of confidentiality but anyone walking by could read my computer screen or hear my phone calls and voice messages. I did not have a place to lock up private information or documents. He stressed his need to keep his personal files confidential so I asked for a headset. I explained that I was worried about keeping his information confidential in such a highly visible location. He thought I was complaining. On day two he asked me to drive his wife to the airport. She spent an hour telling me about her husband’s difficulties and how to best help him. While I was gone he didn’t address the critical office issues that prompted my driving to the airport instead of him. Instead, he gave me an 8 page typed spreadsheet of random thoughts and ideas and asked me to put them into categories on another spreadsheet. I worked on this the rest of the day while he closed himself in his office and claimed to be handeling company problems. I left at the end of the day without any contact from him. On day 3 I came in a little earlt to finish his spreadsheet so we could review the contents when he arrived. He came in and fired me! He said we were incompatible. My skills and work style didn’t match his clearly defined needs in the Exec Asst role. He had nothing clearly defined. He was scattered, fractured, egocentric, paranoid and non productive. I left a job to take this one and I am now unemployed. My advise – don’t take a job where you think you can make someone “better”. Run for the hills and don’t look back!


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