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Do Employees Want the Boss to Tell Them How to Vote?

Yesterday’s HBR (Harvard
Business Review) blog had a lead posting by Gregory S. Casey arguing that
employees want their bosses to talk politics—ostensibly so they can make “better
decisions.” My first response was total skepticism, leading to questions about
the writer’s person and actual agenda. This is how he was identified on HBR: President & CEO of the
Business Industry Political Action Committee (BIPAC), Gregory S. Casey has a
long record of public service, including as Chief of Staff to members of the US
House of Representatives and the Senate. Casey is also a senior partner in the
Idaho-based consulting company, Veritas Advisors, LLP. Not enough info to
reveal his party relationships or vested interests, but since he was writing
from the standpoint of a CEO I could guess.So, thanks to the internet, I dug still deeper. Yep,
I was correct: “Prominent Republican Greg Casey. . . .” Democrats have their
strategies for this kind of stuff too, but that was a classical Republican
strategy. You know, an appeal to authority (the boss) rather than community
(all of us peons). Casey is an admitted political operative.The blog presents survey “research” from privately
held companies. On numerous occasions, I’ve pointed out the inherent weaknesses
of survey research. At bottom, survey research is fundamentally polling—just like
election polling. Trustworthiness is very, very difficult to achieve by surveys.
So, looking closely at his survey research, I immediately noted numerous
opportunities for building in bias—thus I seriously doubt its validity. What
bugged me was that HBR let an obviously politico put up a post backed by
obviously specious research.In sum, Casey is a political operative using
questionable research to achieve a political agenda.The
HBR conflictWhat’s going on with HBR’s vaunted political
neutrality? Hmmmm. HBR can’t afford to tell you how to vote—even if they could
get agreement on a single candidate. But, scrolling down the blogs, I found
another post by Stanford’s Jeff Pfeffer, with the contradictory and amusing
title, Don’t waste your time telling
employees how to vote. So HBR was posting conflicting ideas—smart approach
to a conflicted issue. . . if, that is, the readers analyze both blogs.. They
put up Casey’s blog first, believing it would gain more immediate attention
than Pfeffer’s. You know, it’s always wise to put the most eye-catching post first.Jeff Pfeffer’s vested interests are very clear. He
intends to maintain his reputation as an impeccable scholar and researcher in
business and human realities. The few scholars like Pfeffer are exceedingly
cautious in drawing conclusions from their research. His livelihood both as
consultant and Stanford professor is built on his knowledge base.Pfeffer, rationalizes his
conclusion on more disparate and far better research. Basically, Pfeffer
concludes that “given the power dynamics involved in the boss/worker
relationship, this (telling employees how to vote) is a bad idea, and not only
because it’s, well, a bad idea. It makes no sense because . . . you probably
won’t sway them (especially because of today’s employee dissatisfaction,
distrust and disengagement [see data in his posting]), It diminishes your
influence in other realms. . . . It takes you off-message.”Pfeffer’s
realismUltimately, Pfeffer argues a viable perspective, not only
because given today’s world, it’s highly realistic. But also because he uses
clearly valid research as evidence in his arguing.Moral
of the blog: (1) Always check out the vested interests of the
writer, and (2) always check the research evidence before you before you bother
with the reasoning. To sum it up, Casey’s recommendation is political nonsense.Photo: Flickr
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Yesterday’s HBR (Harvard Business Review) blog had a lead posting by Gregory S. Casey arguing that employees want their bosses to talk politics—ostensibly so they can make “better decisions.” My first response was total skepticism, leading to questions about the writer’s person and actual agenda. This is how he was identified on HBR: President & CEO of the Business Industry Political Action Committee (BIPAC), Gregory S. Casey has a long record of public service, including as Chief of Staff to members of the US House of Representatives and the Senate. Casey is also a senior partner in the Idaho-based consulting company, Veritas Advisors, LLP. Not enough info to reveal his party relationships or vested interests, but since he was writing from the standpoint of a CEO I could guess.

Voting.

So, thanks to the internet, I dug still deeper. Yep, I was correct: “Prominent Republican Greg Casey. . . .” Democrats have their strategies for this kind of stuff to, but that was a classical Republican strategy. You know, an appeal to authority (the boss) rather than community (all of us peons). Casey is an admitted political operative.

The blog presents survey “research” from privately held companies. On numerous occasions, I’ve pointed out the inherent weaknesses of survey research. At bottom, survey research is fundamentally polling—just like election polling. Trustworthiness is very, very difficult to achieve by surveys. So, looking closely at his survey research, I immediately notednumerous opportunities for building in bias—thus I seriously doubt its validity. What bugged me was that HBR let an obviously politico put up a post backed by obviously specious research.

In sum, Casey is a political operative using questionable research to achieve a political agenda.

The HBR conflict
What’s going on with HBR’s vaunted political neutrality? Hmmmm. HBR can’t afford to tell you how to vote—even if they could get agreement on a single candidate. But, scrolling down the blogs, I found another post by Stanford’s Jeff Pfeffer, with the contradictory and amusing title, Don’t waste your time telling employees how to vote. So HBR was posting conflicting ideas—smart approach to a conflicted issue. . . if, that is, the readers analyze both blogs.. They put up Casey’s blog first, believing it would gain more immediate attention than Pfeffer’s. You know, it’s always wise to put the most eye-catching post first.

Jeff Pfeffer’s vested interests are very clear. He intends to maintain his reputation as an impeccable scholar and researcher in business and human realities. The few scholars like Pfeffer are exceedingly cautious in drawing conclusions from their research. His livelihood both as consultant and Stanford professor is built on his knowledge base.

Pfeffer, rationalizes his conclusion on more disparate and far better research. Basically, Pfeffer concludes that “given the power dynamics involved in the boss/worker relationship, this (telling employees how to vote) is a bad idea, and not only because it’s, well, a bad idea. It makes no sense because . . . you probably won’t sway them (especially because of today’s employee dissatisfaction, distrust and disengagement [see data in his posting]), It diminishes your influence in other realms. . . . It takes you off-message.”

Pfeffer’s realism
Ultimately, Pfeffer argues a viable perspective, not only because given today’s world, it’s highly realistic. But also because he uses clearly valid research as evidence in his arguing.

Moral of the blog: (1) Always check out the vested interests of the writer, and (2) always check the research evidence before you before you bother with the reasoning. To sum it up, Casey’s recommendation is political nonsense.

Photo: Flickr

0 Comments

Leave a reply

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