Ray Dalio, founder of the hedge fund Bridgewater Associates, argues that once your company is more mature and you’re in the position of hiring multiple people, values become critically important.
In his book Principles
, Dalio writes that Bridgewater uses the following 3 factors, in order of priority, to decide whether someone is a good fit with the company:
1. Values are deeply-held beliefs that motivate a person’s behavior and determine their compatibility with other people.
2. Abilities are the different ways that a person thinks and behaves. For example, some people naturally focus on the details while others are drawn to the big picture; some think logically with exceptional organization, while others think more creatively.
3. Skills are simply “learned tools,” like being able to speak a foreign language, close sales, or write computer code.
When making hiring decisions, most people choose skills and abilities first, and then values – or they may overlook values altogether.
For Dalio, that approach is backwards.
Most skills can be learned in a relatively limited amount of time (e.g., becoming more proficient at writing software), and often change in worth – today’s most in-demand computer programming language may be obsolete in a few years.
But a person’s values and abilities aren’t likely to change very much over time.
When you’re choosing people for long-term relationships, Dalio recommends that you focus on values first, abilities next, and then skills.
To maintain Bridgewater’s culture, Dalio and his colleagues look for people who are both highly capable, and who also care deeply about the following shared values:
- Being open-minded and willing to explore “harsh realities including one’s own weaknesses”
- Being willing to do the good but difficult things
- Embodying a drive for excellence
- Feeling a sense of ownership
- Having meaningful relationships and meaningful work
- Practicing radical truth and radical transparency
Nobody will share your exact point of view on everything, but there are people who will share your most important values and the ways in which you express them.
And given the importance of values in both personal and professional contexts, if you find that you can’t align with someone on shared values, “you should consider whether that person is worth keeping in your life.”