Commentary: Let’s Give Donald Trump a Job Performance Evaluation Ahead of the 100th Day of His Presidency

Article originally published in the Philadelphia Business Journal on April 28, 2017

Saturday marks the 100th day since Donald Trump became president. This is a traditional day on which news media and political pundits reflect on what the new president has accomplished since taking office.

In the eyes of Americans, how has Trump done? It depends on who you ask. In a Washington Post/ABC News poll published April 23, only 42 percent of Americans approve of Trump’s performance, while 53 percent disapprove, the worst rating since modern polling started with Dwight Eisenhower.

Intense protests are often held whenever a Republican Congressman or Senator attempts to hold a town meeting with their constituents. A number of Republican lawmakers have chosen not to meet with their constituents due to the sharpness of their dissatisfaction.

Trump has a loyal bloc of supporters, however. The poll also indicates that among Trump voters, 94% approve while 2 percent disapprove. The country is certainly split along cultural and ideological lines. If any of those Trump supporters will come to believe they will be hurt if Trump’s agenda is passed into law, it hasn’t happened yet.

Performance assessment, advice and feedback for improvement

So, let’s assess President Trump’s 100-day performance and share some feedback for improvement. After all, he sold himself to voters as a businessman. He’d understand that regular evaluation and feedback for new hires is a key part of the onboarding process.

First, the advice and feedback. All effective leaders share a number of important traits: They have the right tone at the top and establish the right culture within their organizations. They understand the possible unintended consequences of their actions, they get things done through influence without acting like a bull in a china shop.

Effective leaders are consistent in their positions, so they are readable. This builds strong alliances. Most importantly, they are truthful. Their personal reputation and the effectiveness of their organization depends on these traits. These traits engender confidence, trust and credibility.

President Trump has yet to demonstrate many of these leadership traits. If he was a CEO reporting to a board of independent directors representing the organization’s stockholders, he wouldn’t last long as chief executive.

Trump’s “Contract with the American Voter”

During the campaign, Trump issued his “Donald J. Trump Contract with the American Voter,”(PDF) in which he promised to immediately pursue an ambitious “100-day action plan to Make America Great Again.” This document contains 18 action items and 10 broad legislative initiatives.

Let’s look at what Trump accomplished from this list.

  • Confidence in the economy is up, reflected by the run up in the stock market since Trump’s election. Trump has convinced a few CEOs to keep jobs or bring back jobs to the U.S., but over the long-term, those decisions will be driven by economics and other factors.
  • Trump has promised to restore jobs in the energy industry, naming shale, oil, natural gas and coal. Power companies will build new electric generation plants fired by cleaner natural gas. Most available analyses indicate those coal jobs are never coming back.
  • Neil Gorsuch was confirmed by Congress as the next Supreme Court justice.
  • The Keystone XL pipeline was approved by executive order. It is anticipated that Trump will sign 32 executive orders by his 100th day in office that will roll back many regulations put in place by the Obama administration. For what it’s worth, little, if any, time was spent vetting the impact of rolling back these regulations, many of which are environmental and Dodd-Frank financial system-related. Some of these rollbacks could have serious unintended consequences.
  • On April 26, Trump announced a major tax cut initiative on businesses and individuals– so, in a sense, he fulfilled that promise from the “Contract.” We’ve still yet to see significant debate on whether the economic activity generated will pay for the tax cuts ahead of us, and if it doesn’t, what are the long-term implications of continuing to increase the deficit?

So, what did Trump attempt but not accomplish from his “Contract” with the voters? We couldn’t have expected him to accomplish all of them, but there were still plenty of major initiatives that were either turned back, stalled, or otherwise remain in limbo.

  • Trump’s order to bar citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days until an “extreme vetting” system could be adopted was successfully challenged in federal court. It was ill-conceived by a White House staff that appeared to not be in complete control of what they were doing.
  • He did not label China a “currency manipulator” as he promised he would, and recently Trump told the Associated Press that he can’t do that and expect China to help address issues with North Korea.
  • Trump has repeatedly stated that Mexico will pay for the southern border wall he wants to build. That country’s government has consistently replied they won’t. Trump is now threatening to impose a 20 percent tax on Mexican imports to pay for the wall. In response, Mexico is considering legislation to shift the purchase of U.S. corn to Argentina and Brazil, which will hurt American farmers.
  • And then there’s the big one: Trump said he would shepherd through a repeal of and replacement for the Affordable Care Act. Trump had such a strong, ideological desire to get Obamacare repealed and replaced that at the last minute, he agreed to gut essential health care services from the Republicans’ American Health Care Act. That effort ended with no repeal, let alone replacement, and with Republicans in disarray.

Trump’s promise to be “president for all Americans,” and steps for improvement

In his victory speech after he won the election, Trump stated, “… It is time for us to come together as one united people. I pledge to every citizen of our land, that I will be president for all Americans…”

In virtually every instance, Trump has not acted to bind the wounds of division. Perhaps because of a desire to chalk up “wins,” Trump hasn’t acted as the “president for all Americans.” One of the essential traits of any leader is that he or she can be trusted. Trump has not demonstrated that this trait is important to him. He has failed on this pledge.

Here’s what the president can do right now to accomplish this. Reach across the aisle to get support to fix and improve Obamacare. And before rescinding regulations or adopt new ones, understand the unintended consequences of those actions. Don’t be as doctrinaire and ideological as you have appeared to be — take a more pragmatic approach in policy management.

President Trump, be the president for all Americans. Your legacy depends on it.

Stan Silverman is founder and CEO of Silverman Leadership. He is a speaker, advisor and nationally syndicated writer on leadership, entrepreneurship and corporate governance. Silverman earned a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering and an MBA degree from Drexel University. He is also an alumnus of the Advanced Management Program at the Harvard Business School. He can be reached at Stan@SilvermanLeadership.com.

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