Principles are ways of successfully dealing with reality to get what you want out of life.
Ray Dalio, one of the world’s most successful investors and entrepreneurs, cites principles as his key to success.
To have a good relationship, you must be clear with each other about what the quid pro quo is--what is generous, what is fair, and what is just plain taking advantage--and how you will be with each other.
One important thing that typically divides people is how they approach their work. Are they working just for their paycheck or are they looking for something more? Each of us has our own views about what is most important. I've made a lot of money through my work, but I see my job as much more than as a way to make money--it's how I choose to live out my values around excellence, meaningful work, and meaningful relationships. If the people I worked with were primarily interested in making money, we would have conflicts whenever we had to choose between upholding our values and making an easy buck. Don't get me wrong--of course I understand that people don't work for personal satisfaction alone, and that a job must be economically viable. But we all have definite ideas about what we value and what we want our relationships to be like, and employers and employees have to be in sync on such things.
Naturally there will be disagreement and negotiation, but some things cannot be compromised and you and your employees must know what those things are. This is especially true if you're seeking to create an environment that has shared values, a deep commitment to the mission, and high standards of behavior.
At Bridgewater, we expect people to behave in a manner that is consistent with how people in high-quality, long-term relationships behave--that is, with a high level of mutual consideration for each other's interests and a clear understanding of who is responsible for what. On the surface, that sounds nice and straightforward, but what exactly does that mean? It is important to be clear.
Take for example a case in which an employee's family member is diagnosed with a severe illness, or an employee dies tragically, leaving his or her family in a precarious situation. These things happen far more often than any of us would like them to, and there are of course customs and laws that define the basic accommodations and benefits (such as personal vacation days, short- and long-term disability insurance, and life insurance) that are required. But how do you determine what kinds of assistance should be provided beyond that? What are the principles for deciding how to handle each specific situation fairly--which may not always mean doing the same thing in every case?
None of this is easy, but the following principles provide some guidance.