How an HR Leader Would Help Trump Get Better

By now, if you didn’t see the debates live, you’ve heard that Trump, for the most part, was unprepared and got beat pretty good by Hillary. (BTW – the media, and Clinton’s marketing machine have conditioned me to do this – I call Donald Trump – “Trump” and I call Hillary Clinton – “Hillary” – why is that? Because we have a negative reaction to “Clinton” based on Bill!).

All the time I’m watching this butt whipping I thinking to myself if I had an employee who just performed that badly how would I coach them, pick them up from an HR perspective. Here’s what I think most HR leaders would do with Trump:

1. Pull them into a closed door meeting and say something like, “So, tell me, how did ‘you’ feel like it went last night?” Inevitably, Trump, being Trump, would say something stupid like “I was Yuuuge!” or some sexist remark, which would help the HR Leader frame the rest of how this discussion would go.

2. The next statement from HR would most likely be, “Well, the feedback I’m getting is that it didn’t go so well”. It’s a safe statement, non-confrontational, allows us to keep the energy and passion down so the ’employee’ doesn’t get worked up and this gets out of control.

3. “Let’s talk about your preparation. What did you do to prepare for this event?” Now we are getting into helping the employee understand where their performance started going south. You didn’t prepare, it showed up on game day, we need to correct this. Unfortunately, you’re dealing with a high performer, or at least that’s what Trump would consider himself, so ‘preparation’ isn’t something he needs, he’s a natural, he’s always on, he’s a closer.

4. Ugh, so you’re dealing with unreasonable expectations of their own performance (sound familiar!?). At this point who have two choices, either you’re willing to except this performance again, or you need it to change. Let’s assume you want it to change.  You have to define to Trump what would success look like, but first draw a line in the sand that what the past performance was, was not success. “Look, you got your butt handed to you by a ‘girl’ (I like to twist the knife a little, what can I say!) we can’t have this happen again and it’s going to start with preparation!”

5. Now, HR being HR, they will want to give you some tool. Maybe online time management training, a life coach, or something else that will have little impact in actual performance, but make them feel like they really are moving the needle on performance.  Trump being Trump will take the easiest way out, I would guess life coach, as long as she is young, skinny and pretty.

6. Debate #2 happens and Trump does the exact same thing!!! No preparation and once again gets beat up by a girl and once again believes he did great!

7. Go to Step #1

Some will find this funny, some will find this as a painful reminder of their own performance management within their own organizations. Way too many organizations continue to just do the same thing over and over, expecting it to magically change, but it doesn’t.  Accountability happens when step #6 happens and instead of going back to step #1 to jump to step #8 and go back to the definition of success, what was missed and now what is the accountability factor that was agreed to.

Great performance management is comfortable until it has to be uncomfortable.

2 thoughts on “How an HR Leader Would Help Trump Get Better

  1. While you state your theory that Trump got trounced, many polls and pundits state differently. The rest of your advice/scenario is good, you ruin the effect by an invalid proposition based on your bias

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