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Disability Narratives

Frances has worked at the University since 2006 and in her current department since 2008. Frances was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) when she was younger. More recently she has been assessed as having a Specific Learning Disability (SLD) with elements of dyslexia and dyspraxia.

Image representing FrancesBackground

at the time of the interview – 2016

Frances is an Academic Assistant. She is married with one young daughter.
Ethnic Background/Nationality: White British.

Extended biography

at the time of the interview - 2016

Frances has worked at the University since 2006 and in her current department since 2008. Frances was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) when she was younger. More recently she has been assessed as having a Specific Learning Disability (SLD) with elements of dyslexia and dyspraxia.

Frances acknowledged that she has always struggled with timekeeping and focusing on repetitive tasks. Frances said she has found that her strengths lie in problem solving and analytical tasks. However, because Frances has struggled with simpler and more repetitive tasks, she has not been entrusted with the responsibility of more difficult analytical work. This has left Frances feeling frustrated as she has not able to do work that she finds satisfying. Frances also believes that this is hindering her career progression.

After a few years in her current role Frances was given a merit award and moved up a grade. Frances felt her manager at that time worked in a way that complimented her own working style. However three years ago Frances had a change of manager, who focused on her mistakes and timekeeping. Frances accepted that she would make mistakes, but that she would also pick-up on things that other people had missed. Frances said that she was offered the choice of going on a capability procedure or taking on a new role but at a lower grade. Frances said she felt she had little choice but to accept the new role.

At the time of the interview Frances was having 'informal' meetings with her line manager and senior managers in her department, to discuss her work and performance. Frances said that while these might be useful for some people, she felt that her managers were only engaging in these meetings as the first stage of a disciplinary process. Frances noted that for someone with her conditions such meetings were counter-productive as they caused a lot of stress and anxiety, which then affected her performance at work.

 

I think it's just accepting that people think in different ways; that not everyone thinks and does exactly the same thing in exactly the same way.

Frances felt that the review process was overly focused on the negative aspects of her work, and did not consider the good work that she had done. Frances emphasised how important she feels that praise is to her, given that she is often subject to criticism.

Frances did say that while she was frustrated with the lack of flexibility in the processes and evaluations she had experienced at the University, she did recognise that her managers had tried to be supportive in some ways. She had seen Occupational Health who had helped her get a life coach who had suggested some strategies to improve concentration and accuracy. Frances had also got support from a Union, which she found to be a big moral support when she was attending many of the meetings with line managers.

Since this interview Frances's manager, who had no previous experience of managing people, has been told that her policy of picking up on small fairly inconsequential errors was unhelpful. Frances's manger is now very 'hands off' and supportive, which has made life a lot easier and more pleasant. Frances now considers her an excellent manager.

Biography at the time of the interview - 2016