How the Entrance to Your Office Should Look
Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.
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Do you think it matters to clients whether we have beautiful paintings in the entryway? I’ve been working with a very successful lawyer who has a small undecorated office. His business is booming. My team is all over me to redecorate our entryway and spend a fortune on artwork and furniture because they think that gives clients a better image of us. I realize you are not an interior decorator, but this seems to me to be a human issue. My staff thinks they can read the minds of clients. In the meantime, I work with this lawyer who is doing remarkably well in nothing more than a closet. I admit that I am not the most artistic person, but will redecorating really make a difference to our business?
Thank you for writing what is perhaps the most entertaining question I have ever received! I can’t help but picture staff members bringing you carpet samples, and you going out for coffee with your lawyer friend and enjoying his no-frills office.
Your question is a serious one in that it uncovers the issue of motivators. Motivators are about why we do what we do. I often write about behavioral style – communication and the “what” of how we act and how we come across. Motivators are the “why.” They are what’s underneath the covers and what we consider to be right and wrong.
Fundamentally, there are six core motivators everyone in the population shares. We hold them in a different order of importance – 1 to 6. We are mostly driven (or motivated) by our top two, and from time to time we dip into our third. Motivators tell us what we care about, what we like and don’t like. The six motivators are:
- Utilitarian – the ROI value. If I invest my time, my money and my energy, I want a return on that investment
- Individualistic – the political or “ego” value. My name, my reputation and being a leader is paramount to me.
- Theoretical – the love of learning. I seek knowledge and understanding. Education and being credentialed is important.
- Social – the do-gooder value. I care more about the well-being of others than I do about my own well-being. I will make sacrifices to ensure others are cared for
- Traditional – the religious value. I live my life in accordance with religious rules and guidelines. Often times, I may expect others to do likewise
- Aesthetic – love of beauty in the world. I appreciate art, architecture and music. I love to be outdoors, and I am acutely aware of my surroundings.
It sounds like your lawyer friend is probably high Utilitarian, and his clients may be also. They need a service, and he provides it – no frills. He might solve their problems quickly and easily, and they believe they are getting a “bargain” for him doing so.
Your staff could be high Aesthetic from the sounds of the discussion – or they have had high Aesthetic clients mention something about the entryway. For such people, awareness of surroundings are key.
If you have a diverse population in your client base, you likely have people with all of these values/motivators coming in and out each day. It is important to try and appeal to people with different viewpoints unless you have a specific niche and can identify some themes.
A research study in the financial services marketplace found that a large majority (over 85%) of us have high Utilitarian as the #1 or #2 value. High Individualistic comes in a close second at around 67%. Knowing this, it’s important to remember that we all tend to make decisions, talk about what’s “right” and convince others by using our motivators as the basis. So, if you have a very low Aesthetic value, you won’t see the need for this “make-over,” but you may be missing the mark with your approach.
To learn more about underlying motivators, listen to your clients talk about what’s right versus wrong for them, how they spend their time and what they care about. We reveal our motivators through conversation, but you need to be listening to understand!