Recently I had an interesting issue where a client (lets’ call him Harry) was having trouble recruiting for a key position that is often mis-understood; the role of ‘Office Manager’.   It’s amazing how many different job descriptions I have seen for this role!  Ranging from mainly acting as an accountant, to being responsible for Marketing the business.   As you know, these are vastly different roles and require quite different characteristics, skills and traits. 

Harry is a classic Entrepreneur and full of great ideas.  He loves starting new projects and the business is growing on the back of his success at getting into new markets.  He is very effective at spotting a gap in the market and creating solutions that are cost effective to the end user and yet produce a good margin.

If what you are doing is not working . . .
As the business was growing quite rapidly Harry felt he needed an Office Manager to bring some order and discipline to the business.  But he was getting very frustrated that the people he hired would leave after 3 – 6 months and he felt it was holding back the business.

After chatting to him it became clear that he was attracting and recruiting people who were very similar to him, in that they wanted variety and the excitement of starting new projects – which he actually promised them at interview!  However, the requirements of the role were really quite different.  It needed someone who could set up and manage a number of quite strict processes and procedures that would become the backbone of his customer service. 

Do something different . . .
We designed a Job Advert that was highly attractive to people with a high preference for procedures, completing the job, and making sure it was done right.  But the real challenge was getting Harry to realise that the person who would be able to do the job he wanted would not necessarily be someone he warmed to, and that there might well be some clashes and misunderstandings because they were at the opposite end of the motivational scale to him.

Harry’s love of innovation, ideas and variety demonstrates that he has a preference for, and is motivated by ‘Options and Alternatives’.  This is a great trait for creativity and problem solving, but it is not unusual for people with a high preference in this pattern to leave tasks unfinished (because they get excited and motivated by the next new ‘idea’).   They often need someone to provide structure, to ensure things are closed off and completed.  This means getting someone who is motivated by ‘Procedures’. 

Behavioural flexibility
However, it is worth noting that it may well make Harry feel uncomfortable to be around someone who he deems to be boring, inflexible and pedantic.  Yet it’s exactly what he needed to build a sustainable business!

After some coaching, and gaining some insights from his own language and behaviour, Harry was not only able to recruit the right person for the job, but he was able to make sure he communicated with them in a way that was motivating and that made sense to them.

For example, the Office Manager was primarily motivated by knowing ‘how’ a job needed to be done.  They wanted to clarify “the order of things” and “the steps to take”.  They wanted to know “the right way to do things” and “what the completed job looks like”.  His usual way of communicating all the possibilities, alternative approaches and Options can be very confusing, upsetting and stressful for a high Procedures person.

Harry was not used to speaking in procedural terms and it actually made him feel very awkward at first.  But when he saw how the new Office Manager was able to nail down the best way to implement office procedures and implement a methodical way to ensure customers got the best service, he was delighted.   He recognised the benefits of being flexible in his language in order to influence and motivate his Office Manager.

In the next blog it will be interesting to look at how the Office Manager needed to adapt her behaviour in order to influence and motivate Harry!

Discovering your own preferences
As mentioned in previous blogs, the patterns mentioned above are part of the five motivation traits in the LAB Profile.  ‘Options Vs Procedures’ is often at the core of misunderstandings and the LAB Profile gives people wonderful objectivity about the reason for any misunderstandings.  It defuses any ‘personality’ issues and enables people to respect one another’s point of view. 

It’s not personal – it’s just our language and behaviour!  

By simply listening to the way a person is speaking, the LAB Profile allows you to identify how a person is motivated and what kind of information they can handle and helps you to Understand, Predict and Influence the behaviour of others.

I invite you to explore the motivational preferences of the people you like and get on well with and how they contrast with the people you find are now so easy to be around or who you find ‘difficult’. 

– Are they more procedural than you and seem inflexible?
– Are they always looking for alternatives and never seem to follow the right procedures?
– What are your motivational preferences?
– How are they affecting your behaviour and communication?
– How would greater awareness of your preferences help you achieve even more of what you want and avoid misunderstandings?

If you are interested in discovering your own motivational preferences, there is a very precise profiling tool called the iWAM.  All you need to do is complete an online questionnaire and you will get a 16 page report that gives insightful information on 48 motivational patterns and working preferences, including the ones mentioned above.

If you have any immediate questions or would like to try an iWAM for yourself please contact us on [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]

Thank you! Your subscription has been confirmed. You'll hear from us soon.