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An Eccentric Employee Shakes Up the Shop

How would you handle him? We want your thoughts!




AT SOME POINT in your career as a working professional, you’ve no doubt encountered a quirky co-worker who was a little … different than the average Joe.

Such is the character at the center of this month’s Real Deal scenario. Anton Balanito has recently joined Briderlite Signs and is wasting no time impressing others with his design work, but management is concerned about how clients will receive his alternative fashion and unusual manner. You can read the full scenario here.

So we asked our Brain Squad members, “What, if anything, should the Briderlite management team do about their eccentric new designer?”

They offered a variety of possible solutions that we’ve included below. Now, we’re asking for your thoughts. Please feel free to comment below!

  • Embrace the eccentricity! Introduce him as “Our Sign Guru.” —   Theresa C., TX
  • How ’bout not discriminating against a person’s visual appearance and beliefs? Obviously Anton is able to get the job done, so let him do his job. A person happy with themselves will be an effective employee. There comes a time when we need to start looking past how people look and what they believe in and start looking at their skill set. He’s got the skills; stop judging a person based on the way they look. —   Meri L., Bethlehem, PA
  • My thoughts would be to see if you can set him up remotely in a design space and utilize his design expertise while isolating his personal habits from the rest of the team. The skills can be valuable, but you don’t want to disrupt the workflow of the office. —   Todd W., Reisterstown, MD
  • This is not an issue limited to our industry. Historically it is not uncommon for people to judge the book by the cover. However, when we do that we miss out on opportunities to meet the brightest, most intelligent and creative people. And it doesn’t stop with tattoos. Hairstyle, hair color, height, weight, speech impediments or accents and ethnicity have unfortunately factored into hiring decisions for years. As a society we are improving but we still have a long way to go. When you judge people solely on appearance, you do yourself and your company a huge disservice and the opportunity to employ the next Michelangelo or Salvador Dali! That is the one thing I love about our company: All are welcome! —   Elaine S., Clearwater, FL
  • Well, first and foremost, I would have from the start requested a “meeting” to catch up on things. Then and there, I would have gotten some insight as to his current design style, personality, appearance and mannerisms, all to see if there really is or would be a fit. I always think in terms of “best case, worse case” when considering major decisions. As such, best case he would create really great designs; that is the major key to closing a sale and producing the work. Worse case, he would “freak out” some customers whom might get offended by his eccentricities. To that, I say welcome aboard. Let’s get this company back on track, get the creativity flowing, set the new design standard in town and make some real money. Business is business and get over it. —   Edward S., Mt. Morris, MI
  • The sign business has always had more than its share of interesting characters, especially in the design departments. Far too many consider themselves Da Vinci-class artists when they are at best good designers. If the company can deal with him (yes, he’ll have to adjust to the local ways and keep the microwaving of fish to a minimum) then go ahead and keep him. Tattoos are considered normal now, along with nose rings, rainbow hair, etc. If he’s that talented and everyone can get along (especially with the customers because they are the ultimate boss) and he’s an asset to the company, I say live and let live. However, he’s surely not the only talented designer around. Give him an honest chance but let him know, right away and in no uncertain terms, how he is expected to behave and that he has to conform to expected company norms. If he cannot fit in, and is a disruption, he needs to be let go. —   Rocco G., Pennsauken, NJ
  • Too late to cut him out of the equation at least in CT. You’d end up with a very big unemployment/labor claim. If I had hired him site unseen at this point I would give him some time and see how clients react to him. If he turns out to be a great designer and has no client skills, let him draw and have someone else present his work to clients. Worst case, you let him go after a month or two while you look for a better fit. —   Robert B., Oakdale, CT
  • In my opinion, I would put the guy to work. Keep him busy and entertained. Talented folks are sometimes eccentric and that is what makes them so talented. Once the customers see his work, life should be good. You can’t judge a book by its cover. I would hire him in a minute just to break up the boredom I experience from some of the Millennials I have to work with. Nothing is worse than having some young know-it-alls with no life experiences. I would keep the new guy just to make life interesting. Sounds like the other employees might just learn something from him. Talent is hard to find these days. Maybe put him in charge someday and take more days off myself! Money isn’t everything you know! Who cares what his diet is? None of my business. If the work is good, customers are happy, the other employees are happy. . . we are making love! And love makes the world go around. —   Spencer S., Colorado Springs, CO

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. sign business, you’re invited to join the Signs of the Times Brain Squad. Take one five-minute quiz a month, and you’ll be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting the sign business. Sign up here.

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