Identifying line management support and neurodiversity training needs for Network Rail

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This report has been commissioned by the TSSA in collaboration with Network Rail. The purpose of this report is to gather, analyse and conclude on key information on the line management of neurodiverse employees (i.e. employees diagnosed with dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia, ADD/ADHD or Asperger syndrome), so that the TSSA can develop a bespoke training/toolkit for line managers at Network Rail who are responsible for managing neurodiverse employees.


Information was gathered on the line management of neurodiverse employees from three sources: extant literature; secondary analysis of primary data from interviews (n=18) with transport industry line managers; and, primary data gathered from interviews (n=10) with Network Rail line managers. Findings were analysed based on identifying facilitators required to effectively line manager neurodiverse employees and the challenges line managers face when managing neurodiverse employees. The findings were analysed by applying the social model of disability.


Support practices for line managers appeared sophisticated, extensive and wide-ranging. However, there appears to be a gap between the rhetoric of organisational support for such activities and the experiences of line managers. There is a need for line managers to be trained on a wide-range of issues related to managing neurodiverse employees. Line managers need to have the authority to make informal/minor reasonable adjustments. Facilitative factors included TSSA partnership, neurodiversity champions and dyslexia training. Challenges included: lack of understanding of neurodiversity, managing changing working arrangements, lack of disclosure by staff, and, increased pressures on managers.


Line manager training should include attention to thirteen aspects of line managing a neurodiverse employee (see Table 5.1). However, such training needs to be complemented with modifications to wider organisational facilitation practices.
Original languageEnglish
Media of outputText
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - May 2017


  • Neurodiversity
  • Line managers
  • Network Rail
  • TSSA


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