Is your working environment lowering the productivity of your people?  Is your personal preference getting in the way of others?   Our working traits and preferences can have a profound effect on our productivity and if the environment doesn’t match our needs we can get stressed and de-motivated.  Yet there are often some simple solutions.

One of the things I love about snorkelling and scuba diving is getting up close and observing all the tropical fish and their behaviour.  There is such a vast variety, so many different shapes, sizes, colours and social patterns.  We often tend to think of fish as social creatures that congregate in large ‘schools’ and while this is the case for some species like Yellow Snappers and Neon Fusiliers in particular, there are also many solitary ones who prefer to swim alone like Napoleon Wrasse or Titan Trigger Fish. 

The three styles
It is also interesting to notice these social tendencies and preferences in people.  In a study of people at work using the Language and Behavioural Profile (LAB Profile), Rodger Bailey found 20% of people prefer to be Independent; they are most productive when they are working alone and fully responsible for achieving the results.  Another 20% prefer to be Cooperative by sharing responsibility and are most productive when they have others to work with.  The remaining 60% have a preference for being in Proximity with others; they want to be in charge of achieving results but like having others around as long as everyone is clear about who is responsible for what.

A personal example
My wife Pam and I each run our own business and sometimes we both work from home at the same time.  I like to have the door open with music playing and I’m frequently on the phone making or receiving calls from clients, I enjoy and thrive on all the interaction.  Pam prefers to have her office door closed and dislikes being interrupted – it jars her concentration and makes her less productive.  Earlier in our relationship, before I became a qualified LAB Profile consultant, I took it very personally when Pam would respond to my enthusiastic interruptions with a deep sigh or a very brief and clipped tone.  It made me feel that she didn’t care about what I was saying or that she was angry with me.  I now realise that she is just trying to maintain her focus on whatever complex stuff she is working on (she is a Chartered Statistician).  It also interrupted her procedure.  On the other hand it also took a long time for Pam to realise that I liked it when she popped into my office to say ‘hi’.  She used to avoid checking in with me because for her it would be rude to break my concentration.

My natural preference for ‘Cooperation’ clashed with her preference for ‘Independence’ and now we just laugh about it.  It is not personal!  I know to wait for an appropriate break in her day to check in with her and she comes in to my office for a chat whenever she has a tea break!

Some food for thought . . .
Most people will adapt to the prevalent working environment if they have the flexibility to do so, and in many cases their preferences will show up in their language and in their behaviour.  For some people it can become very stressful if their working environment clashes with their preference.  It can lead to increased anxiety, low motivation, low productivity and increased absence.

Some food for thought . . .
• What is your working preference and what are the working preferences of the people you work with? 
• Do you need to work independently?
• If so, are you able to get enough time to yourself at work and is this affecting your productivity? 

You may also want to think about some of your team and their preferences. 

• Is it possible to allow some people to work from home if they have a strong Independence pattern?  They will be more productive! 
• Is it possible to enable your people with a high Cooperative pattern to work in teams or to have team targets?  Are there opportunities for them to collaborate and socialise?
• On the other hand are you forcing Cooperative types to work alone?  This will lower their productivity.
• For many people there are some tasks that they want to cooperate on and others that they need to work independently on.  Having awareness about this and making appropriate adjustments can massively improve productivity.

Is your leadership style disruptive?
These ‘Working Style’ patterns can also have a big impact on your leadership style.  If you are too ‘Independent’ you may well alienate some of your people.  This can have a de-motivational effect on the business, especially if you employ or work with people who have a Cooperative or Proximity pattern.  On the other hand if you are too Cooperative you may create too many interruptions for people without realising it. 

As with everything in life we need to be aware of our preferences and how to adapt to others in a way that works for them.  This is especially true if you want to influence people.

By becoming more aware of your patterns and the patterns of your colleagues it becomes possible to understand them, predict their behaviour in a given context and to influence them by matching your language with their patterns.

Understanding Motivation
Many of my clients are using these principles to understand the Work Attitude and Motivation of their Managers to aid communication and improve productivity.  By using the iWAM (a LAB Profile based online questionnaire) you can get a very cost effective and insightful report which identifies the above patterns and many more.  The report provides pragmatic information that you can put to use right away.  

Some of the other benefits of using the iWAM Profile are:
• To hire the right people; who are motivated and suited to performing in their specific roles, lowering attrition rates and thus reducing the cost of recruitment
• To minimise the pain of implementing organisational change
• To understand the personality clashes that occur in regular meetings (both internally and with customers) and then use this understanding to reach successful outcomes quickly and effectively
• To identify why some people seem so difficult to deal with and how to overcome that
• To simplify career counselling and professional coaching
• To create high performance teams by managing people’s strengths, rather than suffering from their weaknesses

If you would like to discuss a particular issue further please give me a call on 07970 134964 or write to me by Clicking Here.

If you are interested in a short cut to discovering your convincer patterns or the patterns of your people you may be curious about our iWAM Profiling tool.  It is a simple online questionnaire and produces a 16-page report about 48 motivation patterns and working preferences.  For more information Click Here or contact Amanda at [email protected]

Remember  . . . stay curious!

With best regards
David Klaasen
David Klaasen is director and owner of the niche HR consultancy, Inspired Working Ltd.  (
If you have a communication or performance problem and would like some objective advice drop him a line at
[email protected].