Mavericks in Manufacturing
“It is the beginning of wisdom when you recognize that the best you can do is choose which rules you want to live by, and it is persistent and aggravated imbecility to pretend you can live without any.” ~ Wallace Stegner, historian, novelist Each of knows of a maverick: an unorthodox or independent-minded person. When we like what the person does, we label him or her as a free spirit, a genius of sorts. When we are unhappy with what the person does, we label him or her as a noncompliant, a definite troublemaker. Now, if we’re talking about maverick employees, what comes to mind? Is your thought positive or apprehensive? Different types of employees The workforce abounds with different types of employees, and while some stay inside the boundaries and do things “by the book,” others don’t. They constantly push against the rules and challenge authority. A maverick is most often intelligent, innovative, impulsive, and dynamic. He/she is stubborn almost to a fault. A maverick employee can be found at many manufacturing companies, often displaying his/her outlandish and stubborn disregard for team harmony. If you are thinking of hiring a maverick, consider your pros and cons carefully. Is a maverick employee a good fit for your company? As noted above, there are both desirable and undesirable characteristics of a maverick. If yours is an organization needing fresh ideas and new directions, the ability of a maverick to think differently could be helpful. Consider the empires built by Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, and Richard Branson. Conversely, if you need to continue to build upon an already succeeding business strategy, a maverick may be the worst fit. While he/she may provide a spark to keep a team ignited and passionate, their lack of conformity, especially over the long haul, could be an issue. What to do with your maverick employee The reputation that a maverick is always difficult is unfair. With checks and balances in hand and a strong supervisor who understands the personality type, a maverick can rise to rock-star status. Here are four tips:
- Make sure to set firm boundaries in writing.
- Outline company policies in line with the company’s and direct manager’s expectations of performance.
- Ensure the employee respects your authority, but try hard not to micromanage him/her.
- Keep the dialogue going and provide critical as well as encouraging feedback, consistently.