Are You Using This Approach to Coach Your Maverick Employee?

by | 2 minute read

Do you have an employee on the team who’s constantly coming up with suggestions and ideas that don’t mirror your own? Some managers might feel these employees are deliberately challenging their authority. And they go on to squelch these maverick employees. That approach might not be the best strategy for your team.

The Value of Mavericks

When you’re working with your team, it’s easy to fall into the habit of group think. Team members, over time, learn how their co-workers and their supervisor think. And many employees don’t want to rock the boat by suggesting new approaches to old problems.

On occasion, a maverick will come along. Scott Cowen, president emeritus of Tulane University, points out that the maverick doesn't accept group think. They are the ones in the room asking, “Let’s think about why this may not be a good idea.” Their out-of-the-box thinking can lead you and your team to consider different solutions to a problem. And some of their unconventional thinking could result in the development of game-changing and disruptive solutions.

The Challenges of Managing Mavericks

If you’ve got a maverick on your team, they might not always understand why their co-workers reject their thinking. For some mavericks, communication style is the issue. When they express their ideas, they may put people off by insisting they are right. Other mavericks may get easily frustrated and pull back when co-workers don’t quickly support a radical idea. At that point, they can slip into lone-ranger mode and possibly exhibit toxic behavior as identified by the SalesFuel HIRE assessment system.

To keep that from happening, help your maverick by supporting their ideas in meetings and encouraging discussion group discussion about them. Make sure they respectfully listen to co-workers’ questions and possible objections. Your maverick may need coaching to see that you are open to new ways of thinking. Help them understand that you have the organization’s best interests at heart. To truly succeed, mavericks should put forth those kinds of ideas and make a bigger effort to develop stronger bonds with their co-workers.

Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.