Dare to Ask | Managing people with disability at work
"The key to managing people with a disability is not managing them at all, it's just to be that leader and people person who they can relate to."
Full episode transcripts here:
Brad Knight: What do you wanna ask me?
Interviewer: What's it like managing people with a disability?
Brad Knight: Okay. To manage people with a disability is the most motivating, uplifting thing you'll ever have the opportunity to do. They surprise you every day. It's not what they can't do. It's what they can do. And the biggest thing is being a leader. You don't manage people, you lead them. And sometimes you do share your stories. So they are motivated. And my story might give these guys the opportunity to grow, to manage their own emotions in their journey. So I think the key to managing people with the disability is not managing them at all. It's just to be that leader and that people person who they can relate to.
Interviewer: So, what is your story?
Brad Knight: So my story, in 2008, I was 29 years old, and I had a blood clot in my brain stem. So I had a massive stroke. Which rendered me losing the entire left side of my body. Which included face muscles, eye, arms, legs, everything. If you just drew a perfect line down the centre of my body, my whole left side of my body was pretty much well paralysed.
One thing that always sits with me those words is that "Look, you may never walk again. You may never get the movement in your arm." It was a very emotional dark day. But it was a start of a new me, if that makes sense.
So, my girlfriend at the time, is now my wife. I remember I got her in and I was, I had a really bad day. It was about three days in. And I said, "Look, you don't have to stick around for this. You're a successful, beautiful young woman. I'm laying in a hospital bed, I can't go to the toilet. I can't move, I can't do any, you can." I gave her an out. But she said, "I'm here for the long haul." And that was the foundation of who I am today. Because we went through some pretty tough times in rehab, from finger movements to toe movements, to me actually taking my first step. It was... It just showed me how someone's support. She didn't feel sorry for me. She just wanted me to be the best person, I could possibly be. And that was the building block and the foundation. That gave me the opportunity to heal what I had to heal, and to get through what I had to get through. Everyone needs that opportunity. And I'm here to bloody give it too.
Interviewer: How did you become a manger at Castle?
Brad Knight: I was steel industry my whole life. So this is where the change in me come. To move into disability was something I'd never ever ever thought of. I started as a case manager. I started as an account manager. I then made the next step to a team leader from the team leader, I went from team leader to site coordinator. I just had little goals and don't get me wrong. There was some backward steps. There was some backward points. But, I don't want anyone to feel sorry for me what happened. I don't want anyone to treat me any differently. I just wanted people to give me a go. And Castle gave me a go. And yeah, here I am.
Interviewer: How do you help people with employment?
Brad Knight: It's the little things that may the biggest differences. And that especially is around education. So in the background, I make decisions whether that employee is a good fit for our participant or that person who is wanting to work there. Because you don't wanna set someone up to fail. You want to build their capacity slowly.
And while like me, I can't be a triathlon trainer, or a weight coach or a jogging coach. I'd want someone on my behalf educating somewhere where I wanna work that even though Brad can't run he can walk really quickly. I just needed someone, just to motivate that employee to say, "Hey, but these are the things he can do." And Castle does that better than anyone.