A business needs a mix of people to really thrive. If we’re going to be flippant for a moment, you can think of it like a boy or girl band. There will be the all-rounders, around whom everything else rotates. Then there will be the outside-the-box thinker who brings soul. The sensitive one who gives the whole process a human side, and so on and so forth.
Every boy/girl band also tends to have the “edgy” one. Of course, in a pop group, all you need to have to be “edgy” is more than the average number of tattoos. In a workplace, the rules may be different, but the function of the edgy one is the same. They are the one who brings an element of unpredictability – which can be invaluable, but can also be a risk.
Having that maverick edge can really work for a business. As the song goes, every rose has its thorn after all. But how do you decide – and what do you do – when the unpredictable, edgy one in your workforce becomes all edge… without the benefits?
Maverick or millstone?
Unpredictability can be beneficial to a business. If you’re sales-focused, for example, the more maverick approach a person brings can be like gold dust. It usually comes with a lot of charm, and the instinct for the right buttons to press with a customer.
It’s an ability that is often referred to as being “lightning in a bottle”, and when you harness it, you’re a business Nikola Tesla and feel like you can conquer the world. The only problem is when your exciting, edgy, maverick employee turns their power to destructive means. Lightning is beautiful, but it can do real harm.
How do you solve a problem like [Insert Name Here]?
The ability to look at things with a unique perspective is not something that can be bought or taught. It comes with a certain kind of mind, one which works more like a free-flowing stream than a train on tracks. The drawback is that it can also mean a disregard for rules.
There may not be a rule in your workforce management system that says you can’t get a sale by complimenting a customer. However, being too personal may also offend a customer. One occurrence can happen to anyone, but if it keeps happening with the same member of staff, then you’ve got a problem.
The first step to handling this is a light chat about controlling these impulses. Explain to your employee that they are valued and their uniqueness is appreciated, but there are red lines they cannot cross. For most, this will be the heads up they need to be more controlled and aware they are in a working environment.
What if that doesn’t work?
If you find yourself with an employee who continues their transgressions even after warnings, then it might be time to investigate disciplinary procedures. These can involve warnings with the ultimate threat being they will lose their job.
A month is a reasonable length of time to see if someone has truly turned over a new leaf or is just acting to make it appear so. If they have been spoken with (or you have written to them three times), then it’s time to cut the rope. They’ve had their chances and are now more detrimental to your business goals than useful.