At the Westport, Connecticut-based hedge fund Bridgewater Associates — the world’s largest, with $169 billion in assets — meetings are filmed and made available to the 1,500 employees. Employees rate each other’s performance using proprietary apps to publicly display averages for each person and criticizing colleagues behind their backs will get you fired.
The foundation for this culture is senior leader, Ray Dalio. He admits that the culture is not for everyone. The attrition rate during an employee’s first 18 months is 25 percent – one in four employees doesn’t last over a year and a half.
In a recent interview, Dalio explained why it can be difficult adapting to his company’s culture, “Most people have a hard time confronting their weaknesses and speaking frankly to others. Some people love knowing about their weaknesses and mistakes, and those of others, because it helps them be better, while others can’t stand it. So we end up with a lot of people who leave quickly and a lot of people who wouldn’t want to work anywhere else.”
In my new book – If Not You, Who? Cracking the Code of Employee Disengagement – I talk about the importance of creating an open and honest culture, where everyone is candid and transparent. Bridgewater Associates may take this to the extreme, but I give their senior leaders credit for giving us an option to the millions of company cultures where you are punished if you speak up and where performance issues are swept under the rug.
My guess is that the employees who choose to stay at Bridgewater Associates are not miserable and disengaged, but trust senior leaders and are emotionally committed to the organization. Does this describe your culture? If not, let’s talk. There’s a simple four-step process that you can implement, senior leaders and Human Resources professionals, to create a culture where people soar, so you company soars.