What Your HR Department Can Learn From Trump’s First Months

Don’t worry. This isn’t going to be an overtly political post where I launch into a diatribe on the positives or negatives of our current president, Donald Trump. We’re going to take an objective look at the actions taken by the Trump administration during his first months on the job and find lessons that will benefit your HR team or function. President Trump is a unique case as he’s someone who has never held elected office or had to deal with the politics that run through the bloodstream of the Washington, D.C. crowd. Trying to set a furious pace of executive orders and legislation during the first couple of months, Trump’s team has seen an array of highs and lows that can provide a roadmap for your HR department or TA team to learn from as you also try to move your agendas forward. Let’s dive right in.

  1. Build Support. Let‚Äôs face it. A lot of HR or TA departments are considered the red-headed step-children of their companies. Often cast aside with small budgets and minimal staffing, it can be tough to push policies up through the ladder without viable internal sponsorship and support. Heading into the election, President Trump faced the same long odds many HR departments do. Written off by the national media as a longshot, Trump was forced to build a unique coalition of traditional conservatives and the traditionally Democratic rust-belt middle class to find his way into the presidency. Riding that wave of support, President Trump entered the office with a strong mandate to act on his campaign promises. If you‚Äôre struggling to push through a policy or change that will benefit the lives of your employees, work to find an internal sponsor or build a coalition of doers who can help you achieve your goals.
  2. Communication Is Key.  Too often, we make decisions affecting those around us without properly soliciting their input or notifying them clearly of the changes that are coming. President Trump and his administration faced this firsthand when they enacted their Immigration Freeze targeting people from 7 countries around the world. Quickly signed and poorly communicated, the government agencies that were tasked with carrying out this directive on the ground were left clueless as to who the policy explicitly targeted. The administration also suffered a big loss when the order was struck down in multiple federal courts around the country. Take a lesson from the Trump team here and don‚Äôt try to enact sweeping change without having all the relevant stakeholders in the loop and on board.
  3. Don‚Äôt Rush To Change. Making good on another campaign promise, President Trump and Congressional Republicans released their long-awaited bill to replace the Affordable Care Act with their solution. Public sentiment has changed over the past few years, and more and more people have come to embrace the ACA as the law of the land. Conservative states have even accepted federal Medicaid expansion as more Americans have access to health insurance that wasn‚Äôt previously available. As a result, many Republicans are seeing unexpected pushback from their constituents on their choice to repeal and replace. If you‚Äôre seeking to enact sweeping change in your organization, take a step back and survey the landscape first before making a decision. Sometimes, a complicated change doesn‚Äôt need to be made right away. Analyze and study the situation before making a final decision.

Hopefully, I’ve addressed a few helpful examples from the Trump administration that you as an HR leader can take to heart and store away for use. Remember, leading is difficult and making sweeping changes or enacting new policies requires thoughtful preparation and communication. Take a lesson from President Trump and build support, communicate clearly, and ask if the change is needed. If you do those things, you’ll be set to lead your organization down a great path.

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