Hunger drives the wolf out of the wood. —German proverb
In my soon to be published book From the Zoo to the Wild: Your guide to Entrepreneurial Success and Wealth. We define a lone wolf, which is a gig economy worker, or a tradesman who is used to being self-directed and on their own. They are left to tackle all aspects of business, finding work, bidding the work, completing the work and then finally collecting for the work they did. They are used to not having to rely on others to help them. Their ability to solve problems and work hard, is rewarded with getting paid to perform a service or provide a product. The better and harder they work, the more money they can make. This is a great trait to build on with our lone wolves. To grow your business with lone wolves, you have to prove to them that they will make more money, with less effort while still allowing them to have pride in their work and perform to the same level in providing the service or producing the product. You need to prove that your wolfpack is a great place for them to shine and demonstrate their artistry.
The lone wolf needs to see the benefits of the wolfpack you are offering. If you put a recruiting advertisement out on Ziprecruiter, Indeed, Monster, etc. it needs to be clear on how it will improve their life. You will need to attract them to your wolfpack. In the home service industry, the lone wolf doesn’t need nor want to come work for you. Gone are the days where you put a recruiting ad out and watch people vie for your attention and prove that they can be a good and dutiful employee. The lone wolf personality-types are independent problem solvers who want to see what you are offering. So the recruiting add needs let them know that don’t have to potential customers, or stay up at night working on their bookkeeping.. They want to shed themselves of the activities that keep them from being an artist which is where they derive all of their self-esteem. Demonstrating the benefits in the ad and in the interview process will draw the lone wolf to the wolf pack.
Onboarding the lone wolf starts with defining you culture. Showing them the benefits of following your process to allow them to focus on what they do best. Our culture training focuses on shedding the “us vs. them” mentality and focusing on how the team that they have joined will allow them to be the wolf and artist they are. We then let them in on “our secrets” and begin to show them how understanding customers and what they expect will help the lone wolf make more money and continue be an artist. We let them know that they are expected to be the same great artist they were, but there are processes that we follow, and if they follow them, it will allow them to shed the other activities that they didn’t want to do anyway. The onboarding process has allowed us to weed out lone wolves that will not perform in our wolfpack early in the proces.
The lone wolf needs to stay hungry and feel independent. If you begin to shackle them with too many restrictions or processes, they will start to lose their independence and problem solving or hunger for being a great artist. Too many restrictions and lone wolf becomes the domesticated dog and it will begin to come back to you or your organization to solve the problems of the customer, because the lone wolf has lost their hunger to solve a problem. The wolf that becomes a domesticated dog who just follows your process starts to create problems for your company and the lone wolf can not make enough many any longer. Resist the urge to try and control them too much, or it will become your problem to solve consistently and the turnover begins.
Remind the lone wolf that you are still the alphawolf in the wolf pack. Let them get away with too much and they will forget that the wolfpack is still led by another wolf (YOU). To be a strong leader within the wolfpack, you need to let them know that you are in control and allowing them to be a great artist is your intent, but failure to follow your culture or your processes is not tolerated. Managing the wolves requires firmness, and sometimes when a lone wolf doesn’t work out, you need to let the other wolves know why it didn’t work and what you did about it. Knowing how and when to use this technique is important. The lone wolves need to know that you respect them and what they do. They also need to know that others that don’t follow the rules will not be tolerated in your organization. Respect is earned and returned.
Growing your wolf pack made up of lone wolves can be difficult but it can also be rewarding. Recruit with reward of a great organization; Explain your culture early; Reinforce your processes without overloading them; and finally let them know you are still in charge. These areas will allow you to grow your team of artists and let everyone flourish together.