Yep, this one hurt the first time I was asked. The query was about my encouragement to correction ratio toward my family, and the numbers were not encouraging. The first step is even being aware this ratio exists, whether you know your numbers or not. However, your co-workers know, your friends know and your family knows your ratio. The gold standard ratio I was working to was 10/1. Achieving that number took serious work and I was tracking this ratio on a weekly basis. This required awareness of the little things since my 10 year old was only going to rescue so many kittens from the neighborhood tree or help so many old ladies across the street before I needed to bring correction. Unable to count on those random acts of kindness, I had to pay attention to chores being done, kind words spoken or catch him doing something worth specific encouragement. I couldn't count the generic, empty "your such a good boy" phrase; specificity was required. A 2013 Harvard Business Review article pegged the ratio for high performing teams at 5.6 to 1 and low performing teams at 0.36 to 1. I ain't a math wizard, but I know enough to recognize that the low performing team has a low ratio and I have a pretty good idea that this is not where I want to work. The high performing team number sounds like an environment that has a good balance, recognizing the importance of acknowledging work done well and the value of investing in the hard work of constructive feedback. Keeping this ratio at a healthy number is an investment in the long game. The study found that married couples that succeeded had a 5 to 1 ratio; once again, a team playing for the long game. So, what do you think, what is your ratio? This may very well challenge your management or relationship style. If you choose to be the dictator, rarely passing along an encouragement or the doormat that rarely provides corrective feedback because you fear confrontation. We operate under a set of assumptions that drive our interactions with others and adjusting our ratio may require a closer look at our operating assumptions. Whether you believe the study or shoot for the gold standard, it is good to determine your target ratio and take action to achieve required changes. The most encouraging aspect of this inquiry, is that you can start changing your ratio with your next interaction.
Is your current ratio an encouragement or discouragement? What is a healthy ratio for your relational circles? How do you think hitting your target ratio will impact those around you? Is there a different ratio for your various relational circles and do any of them need to be realigned? What relational assumptions do you need to re-evaluate? Are you encouraged that change is as easy as a decision?