Lessons from Donald Trump: Cutthroat Competition and Instability in the Workplace - HighGround

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Lessons from Donald Trump: Cutthroat Competition and Instability in the Workplace

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First it was Sean Spicer. Then it was Reince Priebus. And now it’s Anthony Scaramucci. In less than two weeks, three high-profile members of Donald Trump’s administration have left. Spicer announced his resignation after Anthony Scaramucci was named the White House Communications Director. It didn’t take long before tensions between the now former White House Chief of Staff Priebus and Scaramucci became very public. Within a few days, President Trump fired Priebus via Twitter. And then yesterday, Scaramucci was ousted from his role.

No matter your political leanings, it’s no secret the President encourages (and enjoys watching) the competition between subordinates. However, this cutthroat competition has led to instability – some might even call it chaos – in the White House. What can companies learn from this situation?

Competition is Good – But There’s a Catch

In some organizations, competition among competitors is viewed as a way to produce the best work. According to research from the Harvard Business Review, “Some competitions elicit fear and anxiety, because they focus employees on the threat of being laid off, losing income, or being publicly humiliated. Other competitions focus employees on winning a coveted bonus or public recognition, which create arousal but make people feel anticipation and excitement.” You can motivate healthy competition by making recognition social, visibly reinforcing your company values and mission.

Prioritize Transparency

In a time of transition or turnover, silence is not golden. When a leader or highly visible member of the company leaves, it’s imperative to communicate with employees as much information as necessary. And no, this doesn’t mean every leadership or business decision needs to be vetted with your workforce. But employees deserve proactive communication when businesses choices affect their work. When nothing is said, the worst is often assumed. Provide channels for employees to anonymously voice their concerns or ask questions during the transitional period. Most importantly, actually answer those questions as transparently as possible.

Have you learned any HR lessons from the Trump White House? Do you think that encouraging competition produces better work? How have you handled communicating leadership changes to your workforce? Share your thoughts below.

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