Personal contact at the time of personal difficulty is a must.Good emotions are important.Emotions are bad only if they cloud judgment and take us away from what we want.However, the boss should avoid being drawn into doing the job of the person who is failing without exploring why the job has not been done successfully without help.It’s very important to get an accurate assessment of what each person can and can’t do and why.If the boss just does the job for the person, even if it produces good results, we will lack the right attribution of success and failure.Remember that an important goal is to learn about what a person is like from testing, and that we want to get that information without crashing the car.We learn from mistakes by seeing our failures, feeling the pain of them, and reflecting and gaining insight.This communication is essential to getting in synch on both a project level and on a personal level.An escalation button.Because there is confusion at times about whether responsible parties are conveying to their managers their problems or whether they are escalating, use an escalation button.This is a tool that makes clear to the manager that the managee is escalating.When issues involve parties that are not in the same part of the pyramid, it is generally desirable to involve the person who is at the point of the pyramid.Not involving the person at the point of the pyramid will likely cause problems.This requires constantly challenging them and probing them.That’s true even if your people are doing their jobs well, even though those people can be given more leeway.Managers are much less able to discover the right things to do than most people assume.I know that’s true for me.The people who work for you should constantly challenge you, in order for you to become as good as you can be.Also, inviting criticism brings to the surface any subterranean discontent and makes the people working for you responsible for helping to find solutions.It’s much easier for people to remain spectators offering unchallenged comments from the stands than to become players on the field.Forcing people onto the field strengthens the whole team.They ought to understand that probing is good for them and everyone else.The main reason Bridgewater has improved at a much faster rate than most other companies over the past 30 years is that we seek out problems and find systematic ways of eliminating them.This approach has given us an unlimited supply of practical ways to improve.You can’t understand how the person who reports to you manages others unless you know their direct reports and can observe how they behave with them.Also encourage the people who work two levels below you to bring their disagreements with their bosses to you.If problems take you by surprise, it is probably because you are either too far removed from your people and processes or you haven’t adequately thought through how the people and processes might lead to various outcomes.If you see something wrong, even something small, deal with it.The more battles you fight, the more opportunities you will have to get to know each other and the faster the evolutionary process will occur.Ask the important, difficult questions, and independently audit.They could be erroneous theories or spin, so you need to occasionally double check them, especially when they sound questionable.Some managers are reluctant to do this, feeling as though it is the equivalent of saying they don’t trust them.These managers need to understand and convey that trust in the accuracy of people’s statements is gained or lost through this process.Since truth is the foundation of excellence and people are your most important resource, make the most precise personnel evaluations possible.Your assessment of how responsible parties are performing should be based not on whether they’re doing it your way but on whether they’re doing it in a good way.Speak frankly, listen with an open mind, consider the views of other believable and honest people, and try to get in synch about what’s going on with the person and why.Remember not to be overconfident in your assessments as it’s possible you are wrong.These will help clarify assessments and communication surrounding them.You could see what they did well and poorly and call on the right people to play the right positions in a very transparent way.These would also simplify discussions about compensation, incentives, moving players up to first string, or cutting them from the team.You can and should keep such records of your people.Create your baseball cards to achieve your goals of conveying what the person is like.I use ratings, forced rankings, metrics, results, and credentials.Baseball cards can be passed to potential new managers as they consider candidates for assignments.Would I hire this person knowing what I now know about them? I find it odd and silly that interviewers often freely and confidently criticize job candidates despite not knowing them well, yet they won’t criticize employees for similar weaknesses even though they have more evidence.That is because some people view criticism as harmful and feel less protective of an outsider than they do of a fellow employee.If you believe accuracy is best for everyone, then you should see why this is a mistake and why frank evaluations must be ongoing.Develop a full profile of each person’s values, abilities, and skills.These qualities are the real drivers of behavior, and knowing them in detail will tell you which jobs a person can and cannot do well, which ones they should avoid, and how the person should be trained.I have often seen people struggling in a job and their manager trying for months to find the right response because the manager overlooked the person’s package. These profiles should change as the people change.While it is important to be clear about what people are doing well, there should not be a reluctance to profile people in a way that describes their weaknesses.It is vital that you be accurate.Do this on an ongoing basis.Training and assessing will be better if you frequently explain your observations.I find that many people tend to blow evaluations out of proportion, so it helps to clarify that the weakness or mistake under discussion is not indicative of your total evaluation.One day I told one of the new research people what a good job I thought he was doing and how strong his thinking was.It was a very positive initial evaluation.A few days later I heard him chatting away for hours about stuff that wasn’t related to work, so I spoke to him about the cost to his and our development if he regularly wasted time.Afterward I learned he took away from that encounter the idea that I thought he was doing a horrible job and that he was on the brink of being fired.But my comment about his need for focus had nothing to do with my overall evaluation of him.If I had explained myself when we sat down that second time, he could have better put my comments in perspective.People don’t like to face their weaknesses.At Bridgewater, because we always seek excellence, more time is spent discussing weaknesses.Similarly, problems require more time than things that are going well.Problems must be figured out and worked on, while things that are running smoothly require less attention.So we spend a lot of time focusing on people’s weaknesses and problems.This is great because we focus on improving, not celebrating how great we are, which is in fact how we get to be great.For people who don’t understand this fact, the environment can be difficult.Aim for complete accuracy in your assessments.Don’t feel you have to find an equal number of good and bad qualities in a person.Just describe the person or the circumstances as accurately as possible, celebrating what is good and noting what is bad.While feedback should be constant, reviews are periodic.The purpose of a review is to review the employee’s performance and to state what the person is like as it pertains to their doing their job.In other cases it takes a significant number of samples and time to reflect on them.A good review, and getting in synch throughout the year, should get at these things.The goal of a review is to be clear about what the person can and can’t be trusted to do based on what the person is like.This process, while generally difficult for both managers and their subordinates, has made people happier and Bridgewater more successful.Remember that most people are happiest when they are improving and doing things that help them advance most rapidly, so learning your people’s weaknesses is just as valuable for them and for you as learning their strengths.Your career path isn’t planned because the evolutionary process is about discovering your likes and dislikes as well as your strengths and weaknesses.