By : japi, HR Manager, ACME Consultants
Activity: 3 comments 272 views last activity : 07 06 2010 20:18:04 +0000
Understanding The Maverick
He seems to march to his own drum, always slightly out of step with the rest of the group. He tends to be independent, and never quite fits in with any one group. The maverick is usually challenging the way things are done, always looking for different ways to get things done, though sometimes these different ways aren't an improvement. Hard to manage, the maverick seems relatively oblivious to the normal constraints of organizational control, authority of his boss, or even rewards.
The maverick has much to contribute to an organization, since he often serves as the "gadfly" that encourages, or even pushes others to think differently. Unfortunately, mavericks can also be seen as pushy, aggressive or even obnoxious, and in the worst cases, they can provide regular nightmares for those that must manage them.
Managing The Maverick
Managers can do a great deal to harness the power and energy of the maverick, while working with him to minimize the negative effects of the mavericks social style. In large part, the manager's approach is going to determine whether there is a lot of good, a lot of bad or a lot of ugly. Below are some suggestions.
1. Get Your Signals Straight
You may not be able to cage a maverick, but you can guide him. The trick is to be clear about how you see the maverick contributing to the organization, recognizing that his contribution may be different from other employees. The maverick needs to know what you expect, and what you need.
2. Work For Respect, Not Authority
Your formal authority may not have much impact on the maverick. Don't expect him to respond to your requests simply on the basis of your being the boss. What will have an effect is developing rapport and mutual respect. This means dialogue, and a willingness to listen to what the maverick has to say. It means asking many questions. It also means showing that you value his contributions.
Mavericks don't usually intend to be obstructive. They appear so because they simply don't think about how they may be affecting those around them. For this reason, it is important that they receive feedback that will focus them on how they are doing. If a maverick is obnoxious in a meeting, he needs to be told. The best way to communicate feedback to a maverick is to talk about basic principles, and values and then move to specifics.
Feedback isn't just about negative behavior, and the manager needs to let the maverick know that his "weird" contributions are appreciated and valued. If you want to keep the maverick contributing positively, you need to let him know.
4. Dealing With Ugly
If your maverick is "ugly" -- unskilled, not very competent and obnoxious, you have a performance problem that must be addressed. It this person is allowed to run roughshod over everyone without contributing anything positive, the entire organization can be poisoned. There will be situations where the best course of action is to encourage the person to move on, particularly if they are constantly disruptive.
5. Champion And Protect
Remember that the maverick tends not to belong to any particular group, and so doesn't receive a lot of group support. He relies on the strength of his ideas rather than social support. If you value the positive contributions of your maverick, you will need to point out these contributions to more conventional employees, particularly in group situations and meetings. Show that you value the ideas and creativity, even if you don't like the way the comments or ideas are presented.
6. Set Limits (Or Try)
The maverick is going to need reminding that there ARE organizational goals that are important. Help the maverick focus on these goals as important, relevant and valuable. Don't appear arbitrary, but appeal to principles and values he may have,
The maverick can contribute positive and negative things to an organization, and can be a blessing or a curse to any manager. Much of what determines what you will get is how the organization and the manager tolerate the quirks of the maverick. If you can harness the maverick's energy and commitment, he can play an important role in helping the organization shake off the inertia and move towards self-examination and change.