Rainn Wilson plays a character of link
in The NBC’s famous “link
”. Shrute is a humorous oddball whose weirdness and awkward communications leave his colleagues confused and perplexed. It’s a general perception that if someone like Shrute starts working in an office, he would not be liked by his co-workers. Surprisingly, a new research results shows that if a group really wants to succeed it should include one or two characters like Shrute because then the group makes better decisions. These office oddballs or the “Socially Distinct Newcomers” help in taking out other members of the group from their comfort zones in traditional group problem-solving experiments.
“One of the evident benefits of variety is the blend of new ideas and viewpoints,” said Katie Liljenquist, assistant professor of organizational leadership at BYU’s Marriott School of Management. A mere presence of a newcomer who is dissimilar can really quiver up the group dynamics and turn dormant thinking into fresh thinking and bad ideas into fine ones.
This research is revolutionary as it highlights the benefits of different knowledge in a team can be set free when newcomers actually share their view of knowledge with old-timers. Thomas-Hunt said. “It is the tension between social dissimilarity and opinion similarity that prompts heightened effectiveness in diverse teams.”
a couple of conclusions drawn from this research could be of great importance which managers or hiring professionals or team leaders should take note of. First is the inbuilt power of am outsider. Just his presence would be enough to change the energy among old-timers who shared a general identity. If a group member discovers that he agrees with the outsider then from the fear of getting alienated from his team members would present the outsiders point of view on his own merits. That results in a new idea to be at least put forward. The second lesson has to do with the awareness of efficiency. The teams that feel they work least effectively together because of the inclusion of an outsider are ironically the top performers!”
Finding your oddball:
the hiring managers need not hunt for such an oddball. They are indeed available in the office itself. E.g. one employee from the accounting team can be put on the sales team. An employee of a company that has just been bought can be put on a team of acquiring company.
In such a situation, managers should help the employees to cope up with the situation by explaining that such a disagreement can actually produce superior results.