You can tell the quality of a leader by turnover

By George Smith

I hate opening a cabinet and seeing that it’s empty and almost empty. That means I didn’t do my job correctly.

Wonder what Donald Trump thinks when he looks at his cabinet.

Chaos. Turnover. Turmoil. All are objective terms defining the Trump Administration’s record of the comings and goings of administration officials in its first 27 months. The president first filled his cabinet and top White House slots with mostly wealthy people, those he liked, those that supported him, those that fawned over him, family members.

Unlike Abraham Lincoln, who famously filled his cabinets with rivals – some detested him and his homespun ways, those that wanted to be president and thought they should be rather than the country storyteller, those that truly wanted to serve the country in a time of division – Trump kept those who honor  him close. He bragged before and after his election that he would pick only the best people; if he did, the majority turned rotten to the core quickly.

Trump has set a presidential record for the turnover of key personnel in the first half of his first term; no other president is even close.

The Brookings Institute catalogued all of the personnel who were fired, quit, demoted or went AWOL for Trump’s first 24 months, comparing those figures with President Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. 

Turnover in WH staff

In the area of executive office personnel, Trump’s turnover rate approached 36 percent in his first year, 2017; his closest rival in this category was Reagan, who approached 18 percent turnover; all others were between five and 10 percent.

In Year 2, Reagan’s turnover was 40 percent, Trump’s was about 33 percent. The total turnover for any administration’s first two years was; Trump, about 70 percent; Reagan, 58 percent; Clinton and George W. Bush, about 30 percent; H. W. Bush, 25 percent; and, Obama, about 22 percent.

For example, under Trump, there have been four directors of communications,  three chiefs of staffs, deputy chiefs of staff, three VP chiefs of staff,  three…you get the picture, right? More than 30 percent of key White House appointments have turned over at least twice, with 12 of 13 turning over three or more times.

Turnover in Cabinet

Turnover in the Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama administration in cabinet positions in Year 1 of their administration was zero; three Trump cabinet members left the first year. In Year 2, 10 of Trump’s cabinet members left (two left this year); Clinton had seven leave in Year 2, Obama had four, and G.W. Bush had one depart. All total, 15 Trump’s cabinet members left office in 27 months; in eight years, Clinton had 12 leave his cabinet, Bush had four, and Obama had nine.

Fact of business life: With high turnover, there can be no continuity of focus or policies or programs.

As a former corporate manager, someone who teaches business classes at the college level and who used to serve as a business consultant for Business Incubator startup companies, I am adamant in the belief that high turnover in any business is an indication of one of three things or a combination of all three: Poor or erratic leadership, unfair or unequal treatment of employees, and stress.

The current White House management system, from insider reports, published articles in a variety of books, electronic media. and slick publications, is a combination of all three.

In the best of jobs, two of the three systemic negatives of any workplace is enough to create reasons to seek other employment. Couple that with President Trump’s hot/cold temperament, his penchant for making spur-of-the-moment decisions based on “gut” feelings, making major decisions via tweets (bypassing advice from key cabinet members and support staff ) creates a no-win situation for professionals at any level.

No employee, regardless of position and company, should ever be publicly ridiculed or called names or mocked by the leader of any institution, business or governmental agency. Yet this is Trump’s style of management: Please me, bend to my will, protect me, do it my way, or hit the road!

There are few people in this nation, even those among his supporters, who would withstand the verbal carnage he has heaped on those who displease him, don’t lie for him, and be inclined to be ridiculed in asinine tweets.

You treat others as you want to be treated. I learned that from the knees of my mother and grandmother; the lesson was repeated in church and at school.

Somewhere that incredibly positive and eternal lesson was lost on Donald J. Trump. And this nation and its people are paying a hefty price for that lost lesson Fact of business life: With high turnover, there can be no continuity of focus of programs.


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