Ask ratios

Published on
September 26, 2013
Chris Taylor
"Ideas are only valuable when applied."
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There’s a well known ratio in the world of Social Media of 9:1. That is to say, to run a “healthy” and well respected social media channel, you should be, according to “them”, sending out 9 informational, sharing-of-other-people’s-content messages for each 1 “self-promotional” message, or ask.

If you ask me, the whole thing is a bit contrived, and still doesn’t support the true potential of social media. That said, the intention is good, and the message is clear – for people to consider you a valuable use of their time – to build trust, in other words – you should only really be asking for things 10% of the time.

…and that’s when you’re interacting with virtual strangers.

Let’s look at this from a leader perspective. The “command and control” style of management suggested that you should be able to say “jump” as often as you wanted. You are paying these people after all, their job is to your bidding, no?

The immortal Stephen Covey once introduced the concept of the Emotional Bank Account. The idea here was that each time you asked someone to “trust you and just do it”, you drained that account a little. Which is (and was) fine, so long as you have a healthy balance in that account to begin with. My suggestion though is that it’s not a 1:1 ratio – each time you offer support, show interest or follow through on a commitment, you are most definitely adding value to that emotional account, but not at the same rate as each asks depletes that account. The ratio, come to think of it, might be closer to 9:1.

The constant danger of being in a leadership role is that we can justify away over-asking. Each time, it – whatever “it” is – feels important, urgent, and something we have the right to request… for the best interest of all. I actually don’t see a problem with that. The important part – the part that is far too often overlooked, is that making deposits to the account – taking/making time to provide value, check in, or just generally be there – hardly ever feels urgent. It is, however, fundamentally crucial to your long term success as a leader.

Time to check in- what’s your current ratio with each of your direct reports? For the team as a whole? What are you going to do about it?