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How to Get The Most from a Maverick Employee

Posted on September 2020

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Call them mavericks, call them eccentrics, call them a headache. Most offices will have those employees who are bursting with creativity and brilliance but are also not a fan of following the rules. 

A maverick can cause disruption, create conflicts, waste time and slow down projects. They may be hard to predict, experience mood swings and offend others. They can also produce some of the most valuable work your company has seen. 

With the right management techniques and a nuanced, gentle approach, these maverick employees can become some of the most valuable members of a team. There is often a reason why they don’t follow a rule beyond a need for rebellion. 

Use these techniques to harness the creativity of your more extroverted employees companies to contribute to the goals of your business and get the best out of them.

Don’t Force Them To Fit Your Mould

The more you remind a maverick employee of the rules they may follow, the more determined they will be to flout those rules. They are often not a fan of systems and processes, wanting to work in a more organic manner which fits into their personal style. This requires an element of trust, but will ultimately lead to a happier and more productive employee and team. 

Accept that you will be unable to make a square peg into a round hole, and focus instead on building a role which will suit the maverick best. Forced conformity will lead to further conflict, whereas a role which focuses on the maverick’s strengths and makes them excited and engaged to get the best work out of them.

Listen To Their Ideas and Feedback

Different perspectives provide value, and mavericks appreciate being listened to. If you see maverick employees are fighting against certain processes, ask them why they feel that way. They will often feel like they don’t see the ‘point’ to a rule, and may suggest alternatives. Listening to a maverick employee can save you time and cut down on disruption, or rising irritation within a team. 

An ‘outside the box’ employee is more likely to spot a bad idea, and extroverts are not likely to keep their thoughts to themselves. Listen to objections and ideas. Even if you don’t make any changes, a maverick employee is more likely to co-operate and produce their best work if they feel like they are being listened to. 

A maverick employee is more likely to get frustrated faster if a project isn’t running the way they believe would be best. The best approach to take is to let the employee ask questions, and focus on providing answers which don’t point out rules themselves, but the reason why certain rules exist. This more co-operative approach helps maverick employees feel valued and listened to, and their ideas may be genuinely helpful for your projects. 

Most maverick employees are suspicious and unaccepting of authority unless it is earned - answering questions and explaining processes with patience will help you build a beneficial relationship. 

Let Them Work In Their Own Way

Mavericks are often so because of their egos - they may produce brilliant work, but they also know it. Maverick employees are also often creative people - and the creative brain will work differently to others on your team. Not only do they feel immense satisfaction at devising and delivering their own work in their own way, but they will often provide creative solutions to problems which others on your team wouldn’t have considered. 

Make sure your maverick employee keeps up communication, and make it clear that you are always available to provide guidance and feedback and see what can happen when a maverick is able to work to their own devices.

Give Them Regular Feedback

An extroverted employee will appreciate regular and honest communication from their employer. Even if it hasn’t been requested, providing feedback - both good and bad - will be appreciated by a creative mind. 

If their behaviour has become too disruptive, or you have received complaints from other team members, it is better to sit with a maverick employee face-to-face and provide calm and measured feedback rather than confronting them, which can aggravate a rebellious streak. Again, ask questions during your feedback and provide guidance which can help maverick employees improve their temper and behaviour during tense moments.  

Positive feedback also helps maverick employees take pride in their work, and will help improve your relationship and authority with them. 

Support Them Within The Team

There will be moments where you will have to be in the corner of a maverick employee. Because a maverick employee may be argumentative or challenging, they may end up being ostracised by other team members. You may need to defend the ideas of your maverick, and talk to other team members about their issues, essentially acting as a ‘go-between’.

A maverick employee may some days feel like more effort than they are worth, but they can ultimately bring amazing ideas and work into your business. It is essential to develop a good rapport with a maverick employee, quickly identify their strengths, and ensure their role is formed around their abilities. You shall reap the benefits.