We have all watched the unraveling of the white house over the past couple of weeks for a lot of reasons, the least of which is a major criminal investigation. But the more scrutiny the White House and administration comes under, the more it is obvious that Donald Trump is a really really terrible manager.
So lessons learned. Don’t manage like Donald Trump. Here’s how:
1. Don’t hire “yes men/women”.
How Donald did it wrong: When firing Comey, Trump thought there would be no outcry — he thought everyone would be happy because of Comey’s late announcement of the Clinton investigation which Democrats decried as tipping the election in Trump’s favor. He was dead wrong. Why? Because he is surrounded only by people who do not contradict what he says and does not offer contrary opinions. He had one dissenting opinion to the contrary from Sen. Schumer, whom he ignored.
The lesson: If you can only hire people who will say yes to your ideas, then how will you know and how will you move forward with an idea that maybe isn’t ready for prime time and/or simply isn’t good? If there are no filters, then you are setup to fail.
The strategy: Hire people smarter than you that have better domain knowledge in the spheres that you need them — and trust them to do their job and to guide you correctly. Talent matters more than abject loyalty. If you hire good people, they will make you look good, bottom line.
2. Set clear objectives and stick with them.
How Donald did it wrong: When information broke about the firing of Comey as FBI director, the White House press team came out and defended trump, saying that he absolutely did not do this because of the Russia investigation, then just a day later, he said in an interview that he did this because of the Russia investigation.
The lesson: If you set people up with unclear objectives, or are constantly changing objectives mid-stream, then you are setting everyone up to fail.
The strategy: Communicate your plans and objectives with your team, then follow through. Don’t say one thing one day, and another the next. Of course there should always be room for agility and pivots, but it should be thoughtful and discussed with the team, they shouldn’t get surprised, especially publicly by you undermining them.
3. Don’t blame your subordinates.
How Donald did it wrong: Trump had Rod Rosenstein write a memo to support his firing of Comey, putting Rosenstein front and center (Rosenstein said he did not put forth the idea to fire Comey), then later Trump said the firing had nothing to do with the firing. It is rumored he is constantly blaming his communications team for negative media reports and basically blames everyone else for anything that goes wrong, despite the fact he creates problem after problem.
The lesson: A good leader always accepts the blame because at the end of the day a leader leads and is accountable for everything (good and bad) that the team does.
The strategy: Make sure you hire good people, treat them well and clearly communicate objectives. When people make mistakes, talk to them one on one but take the hit publicly — this will gain you respect at all levels and people will rise.
4. Be proactive not reactive.
How Donald did it wrong: Instead of drafting their own plan to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, the administration let congress do it. It failed (though a subsequent bill — also created by the House or Representatives, not the White House — did squeak by and is in the Senate now).
The lesson: If you want to effect any kind of change, you need to be prepared and proactive, not just hope others will do things for you — or worse responding to crisis after crisis instead of fulfilling your agenda.
The strategy: Have a roadmap, a high level idea of where you are going, no matter what field you are in. If you don’t have a plan, one will be made for you — and it may not be what you want.
5. Don’t be a jerk.
How Donald did it wrong: Donald Trump has had a difficult time filling the roles of Press Secretary, NSA Advisor and now Comey’s replacement. Why? Well, would you want to be in those positions? Not many people want to work for Donald Trump, basically because he is a jerk.
The lesson: The number one reason people quit is because of their manager. Not the pay, not the benefits. If you don’t treat people well, they will leave.
The strategy: Treat people well. Empower them to do their jobs. Reward them when they do well and communicate with them early if they don’t. Be nice and respectful and don’t have outbursts, don’t blame, and don’t yell. It’s never OK to yell in a work environment.
The bottom line: Donald Trump’s management style leaves us a lot to learn…by doing the opposite.
(Originally posted on LinkedIn)