“What people call “weird” comes part and parcel with people who are brilliant in some way. So embrace your weird. Embrace your eccentricity.” – Elleen Anglin , Life Coach
No matter what industry, position, or place you work in, I’m sure we all have that one co-worker who is singled out as the office “odd ball”. Perhaps this unique person is even yourself, and you are constantly finding it hard to sustain a positive working relationship with your fellow co-workers. Eccentric is defined as “a person or their behaviour being unconventional and slightly strange”, however where one might see these creative minds as “odd”, I see true brilliance in their “kooky” ways. Sure, eccentrics don’t come without their challenges and these original people are often arrogant, blunt, erratic, and moody, but they can be oh so wonderful and offer an extraordinary value to the employer who can manage their unique personality properly.
Research has found that eccentrics stem from having an overly gifted and high intelligence. Some of the most brilliant and inspiring individuals have been eccentrics like Nikola Tesla, Edgar Allan Poe, Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, Charles Dickens, and William the Conqueror. I’ve found that the best way to manage an eccentric, is to let them do what they do best, and help keep them on-track and stimulated throughout their journey within your organization.
Here are some examples on how do you engage, utilize and retain these creative, questing souls!
Give creative meaningful work. Creatives often think about the bigger issues in life, the forest as well as the trees. Only give them interesting, challenging projects and clients. Give them hard stuff.
Trust them. Assuming they are ethical and diligent, let them create procure their own way to success. Give creatives the freedom and flexibility to flourish. Don’t force them into excessive structure or quotas. It obviates the very reason you hired them.
Be flexible. If new hires excel, let them do it their way. If they create superb results working five hours a week in their underwear at home, when you are paying them for 40 hours in the office, who cares? As long as they are meeting the tasks and deadlines successfully.
Give them a sense of ownership. Ask their opinion and take their advice seriously. Make them feel valued, an essential part of the organism that is your company.
Don’t expect to motivate them through money. Of course pay them fairly, but research indicates these out-of-the norm individuals may actually be discouraged and perform poorly when they are rewarded just for completing a task. Mihaly Czikzentmihalyi, says in his classic book, Flow: “The most important quality, the one that is most consistently present in all creative individuals, is the ability to enjoy the process of creation for its own sake.”
With so many different personality types working under one roof, its important to know how to embrace uniqueness and play to their strengths to ensure the organization as a whole flourishes.
Vanessa Salopek is a Marketing and Business Development professional with over 10 years of experience working in Calgary. In addition to the work Vanessa does with Salopek & Associates, she is also the owner of MARKET Restaurant, an award-winning restaurant in Calgary.