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Want the best from your employees? Use baseball cards

The founder of the world’s largest and most successful hedge fund recently released a book called Principles. If you want to get the best from your employees, this is one you’ll want to pick up.

Ray Dalio details how Bridgewater grew to manage $150 billion dollars of assets and has 1,700 employees. The culture of extreme candour and radical transparency is a big part of this success. Bridgewater has processes and policies to foster openness and honesty among their employees.

Baseball cards point out the best in your employees

One of my favourite takeaways from Principles is when Dalio describes the baseball card system. Each employee has his or her own card which outlines strengths and weaknesses.

Baseball cards for employees

Bridgewater Associates via TED

To use a baseball analogy: “You wouldn’t have a great fielder with a .160 batting average bat third, you wouldn’t assign a big-picture person a task requiring attention to detail.” Everyone has different skills and talents. It’s counterproductive to expect all employees to be strong in the same areas. Dalio admits that in its early years, they weren’t doing enough to learn about its employees’ strengths and weaknesses. They were hiring people that they liked or had a good feeling about. Now they think like a general manager would assemble a winning team in sports.

Each person’s baseball card lives in an iOS app called Dots. Employees rate each other across 100+ attributes on a 1-10 scale. Only employees can access the app and stats. At first, some were uncomfortable having their strengths and weaknesses visible to all. But after getting used to it, the results have been remarkable. Dalio’s organization has produced more net gains in absolute U.S. dollars than any other hedge fund.

Stryve is considering implementing a similar system. It’s important to create a mechanism for reinforcing candour and transparency. By putting our strengths and weaknesses out there for everyone to see, we can work together better. Bridgewater proves that we can achieve more if we know who should be the leadoff hitter and who should be batting clean-up.

Sourov De

Co-founder & President

Sourov is fascinated by anything related to sales, marketing & social media, and is the founder of the Social Media Marketing Canada group on LinkedIn.

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