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How Organizations Can Thrive By Promoting Neurodiversity & Psychological Safety with Tara May (Ep. #58)

The BetterManager Team
Building Better Managers Podcast Episode 58 - Tara May

Building Better Managers Podcast Episode #58: How Organizations Can Thrive By Promoting Neurodiversity & Psychological Safety with Tara May

As the world of work evolves, leaders and managers are being asked to do more. In addition to day-to-day responsibilities, successful companies are engaging leaders in conversations about broader issues like return on investment. What’s one of the best ways to ensure a company’s financial success? By putting people first and embracing a culture of growth and innovation.

Teams who can innovate, evolve and grow are more highly valued than ever before. But innovation is close to impossible without a psychologically safe environment where mental health is valued and prioritized. When blame and shame are rampant, only a select few benefit.

Tara May, CEO of Aspiritech and digital transformation expert, joins us to discuss how to create a workplace culture where innovation can thrive. She’ll cover the importance of neurodiversity, the mental health resources that can best support your teams, and how creating a culture of safely “failing fast” can lead to amazing results.

In this episode:

Meet Tara May

  • Tara Mar started as CEO of Aspiritech in April 2022. Prior to joining Aspiritech, Tara was EVP of Media & Chief Digital Officer at Winsight as well as VP of Content and Product Strategy for Patch Media. She helped launch 900 hyperlocal sites for the AOL network as well as a digital reverse-published local news product for the Chicago Tribune.
  • Tara's career is focused on using technology and product innovation to drive growth. She's also a sought-after speaker on user experience and digital transformation. She's overseen large and small teams with a focus on career development and leading with kindness.
  • She resides in Lake County with her husband and teen and tween children, and is personally committed to embracing neurodiversity in all aspects of work and life.

Aspiritech

  • Aspiritech is a fantastic, incredibly unique organization, grown from a kitchen table into a $6 million business with their son at the heart of it. They were really looking for employment for him, and felt he  was capable of so much more than he was doing at his current job.
  • It's a nonprofit whose mission is to have more than 90% of team members on the autism spectrum, and teach them Quality Assurance. They receive training on projects such as data services or accessibility, and then they're employed for us doing client work just like any other business.
  • They're also unique in that the entire team is devoted to mental health in the workplace as part of the organization.

Neurodiversity

  • Neurodiversity refers the idea that everyone has different kinds of brains, everyone's brain works differently. Some people's brains work so "untypically" that we may refer to them as neurodivergent. Neurodivergent means things like having ADHD, being on the autism spectrum, etc.
  • It's so important to understand neurodiversity because there is a wide breadth of human experience, and we should work hard to make our workplaces work for everyone.
  • The more a professional environment can understand and be understanding of the complexity of everything that we take to work with us every day, the happier and more productive we can help our team members be. As leaders, that's part of our responsibility.
  • Neurodiversity is increasingly diagnosed, and 1:45 people are thought to be on the spectrum. So you probably have people on the spectrum, or people with ADHD, or any kind of neurodivergence in your workplace right now.
  • When you can understand how to help all sorts of brains, and help all sorts of people be successful, that is going to help your organization overall.

The Benefits of Mental Health Support to the Organization

  • Business leaders are taught to think about return on investment. How does this or that move the needle in terms of both revenue and profit and growth.
  • Now, we're all being asked to move at the pace of digital - if you are standing still, you are probably falling behind!
  • Companies are working hard and investing in creating cultures of growth and innovation. You have to constantly be innovating and evolving.
  • Team members only innovate, innovate and evolve and grow when they feel safe, when they have the psychological safety to take smart risks and try new things.
  • But people don't try things if they're in a culture where fingers get pointed, where blame is placed, where mental health is not valued and appreciated, because they don't feel valued and appreciated.
  • So if you want your company to have higher profits, higher revenue, new products, growth and innovation, then care about mental health in the workplace, and care about your team members.
  • And create an environment where they not only fail fast, but when they fail, you cheer them on, pick them up and send them on their next adventure. That is the kind of workplaces where people thrive, ideas thrive, and success is found.

Downloads & Resources

Follow Tara on LinkedIn, Facebook and at Aspiritech.org.

Subscribe to our podcast on your favorite podcast platform!

Check out our blog articles on Leadership here.

Tara May

Tara started as CEO of Aspiritech in April 2022. Prior to joining Aspiritech, Tara was EVP of Media & Chief Digital Officer at Winsight as well as VP of Content and Product Strategy for Patch Media. She helped launch 900 hyperlocal sites for the AOL network as well as a digital reverse-published local news product for the Chicago Tribune. Tara's career is focused on using technology and product innovation to drive growth.

Tara is a sought-after speaker on user experience and digital transformation. She's overseen large and small teams with a focus on career development and leading with kindness. She resides in Lake County with her husband and teen and tween children, and is personally committed to embracing neurodiversity in all aspects of work and life.

Episode Transcript
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