Say:Do Ratios

When you think about your natural inclination relative to taking action, what do you see? Once you have said, “Yes, I will do that.”, or see something that needs to be done, how much time typically passes between the saying and the doing?  We all have our own unique timing when it comes to this and there isn’t necessarily a good or bad approach.  However, my experience is that we get ourselves in trouble when we don’t communicate effectively about what we need and what we are planning.

People with ‘Say:Do’ ratios of close to 1:1 are typically viewed as productive and dependable. They are often seen as folks who can be “counted on to get things done”. And while this can result in great outcomes, there can be several downsides to moving so quickly, and one of them is that you don’t allow space for others who move more slowly to be a part of whatever it is that needs to get done. This prevents those who want to be part of the solution from experiencing the joy of helping and also sets up the fast mover for having an assessment such as, “Why doesn’t anyone else ever offer to take care of this?”  

For those who have a longer span between saying, “I will do this” and taking steps to ‘do it’, there can be the real benefit of minimizing mistakes that can come from acting in haste. The downside here is that unless they are making it obvious that they are intending to take action, others may assume they aren’t interested, have just dropped the ball, or changed their mind about taking on the commitment.  

The solution to this confusion? Have a conversation (outloud) with the other parties connected to whatever it is that needs to get done.  If you are a quick responder who would appreciate the help of others, make a clear request that includes the timeline you believe is required.  If you are someone who takes longer to initiate that first step and would like to be more involved in something in the future – say that to the fast starter.  Regardless of the speed with which you move, it is ALWAYS helpful to keep the other parties up to date regarding your plan, your progress and your timeframe – especially if the goal or deadline has changed. And if you are thinking that “they should know this”, assume they don’t – because they probably don’t!


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