How do you go about evaluating the talent in your organization? There are obviously many different performance metrics you can look at. But sometimes an employee's verbal skill and presence can cause you to overlook their real impact.
That's why when it comes to evaluating the talent in their organizations, great leaders focus in on what we can call the "talk:do" ratio. Put simply, they compare how much their employees talk and communicate with how much work they actually get done.
When you go through the process of categorizing your team in this way, you'll find that most of your people will fall into one of three buckets. Not unlike how Goldilocks evaluated her porridge options, you'll see that you'll have some that are "Too Hot," others who will be "Too Cold," while the best will be "Just Right." The real value of using this metric is to then use it as a coaching opportunity to get as many of your team into the "Just Right" bucket as possible. Let me explain what I mean.
"Too Hot" or Talk:Do Ratio Too High
We all know the people who talk all day long--and yet get very little done. Their verbal skills are usually impressive and it is hard to penetrate what is really happening without real effort. These are your "Too Hot" people; the ones who blow too much smoke. There is an old English phrase that applies here that goes: "At the end of the day, when all is said and done, more is said than done." It applies to this group.
They are also the folks who can have a negative ripple impact on the rest of the organization because they eat up other people's time in meetings and impromptu chitchat. As a result, everyone gets less done. These are people I also define as amplifiers. The coaching opportunity here, obviously, is to let these folks know that they quite simply need to spend less time talking--and more time getting things done. Try not to lose focus on their accomplishments due to their verbal skills.
"Too Cold" or Talk:Do Ratio Too Low
What leader doesn't love the employee who keeps their mouth closed and their head down so that they get enormous amounts of work done? Sounds like a dream, right? While it's great to have such productive people, it can actually be a detriment to the rest of the organization if they aren't talking enough about what they're doing--and when they're going to do it by--to get everyone on the same page. We see this a lot with highly technical and introspective talent, like programmers, who would prefer to be left to themselves to work. The coaching opportunity here is to help these folks understand how engaging with others in the organization can make their work even more effective and engage the team.
"Just Right" or Talk:Do Ratio Correct
Finally, you have the people who have learned to strike the perfect balance between talking and doing--your "Just Right" bucket--their talk:do ratio is right on point. These are the folks who communicate without sucking people into too many conversations or meetings while also producing the right amount of output. The more people like this you have on your team, you'll be amazed at how the level of cohesion and productivity begins to skyrocket. The only coaching lesson they need is to be encouraged to keep up the good work.
Realize that each organization has their own ratio and the right ratio for a high performer within that organization needs to match the business. Some require high communication to be successful and others expect people to put their heads down and work. When you are thinking about the talk:do ratio, you need to include the context of the culture.
So when it comes to evaluating the talent in your organization, consider using the talk:do ratio to ask whether someone is Too Hot, Too Cold, or Just Right. Your organization will profit as a result.
If you want to learn more about other characteristics other great leaders share, check out my forthcoming book, Great CEOs Are Lazy, which is available for sale on Amazon.