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Potter gets devastating news from survey

These results are essentially a vote of no confidence against St. Cloud State President Earl Potter.
Great Place to Work Institute

If SCSU's Not A Great Place To Work, Is It A Vote Of No Confidence?
by Silence Dogood

Last fall, there were serious discussions about holding a vote of no confidence in the administration at SCSU. A host of issues about the university have come to light in the past three years that call into question the effectiveness and suitability of President Potter's leadership at the university. It was argued that since there was going to be this Great Place to Work "Trust Survey," a vote of no confidence by the Faculty Association was not necessary.

The decision not to proceed with a vote eliminated some of the contentiousness within the faculty over simply discussing a possible vote of no confidence. Believe it or not, there are some faculty who think President Potter and his leadership team are doing a good job. Some faculty questioned whether or not the results of the Great Place to Work Institute's survey would show a significant enough level of dissatisfaction to have the President removed. Others argued that, even if it did, Chancellor Rosenstone would be reluctant to remove a university president.

So, we are left with the so-called Great Place to Work Survey. Before the survey came out, many individuals expressed concerns about confidentiality while others expressed concerns about having access to the raw data. Several faculty even doubted that the data would ever be released—especially if it was not glowingly positive to the President.

President Potter deserves credit for not dumping the entire project after he saw the results. It would have been easy to say that there were "problems" with the survey—the GPTW survey wasn't really appropriate for a university, or there wasn't a large enough response. But he didn't.

However, in a very selfish way he probably should have dumped the project since the findings of the “Trust Survey” demonstrates quite conclusively that the university community (faculty, administration, and staff) has serious concerns about his leadership at the university. They certainly lack trust in his administrative team. The survey results were presented in a university forum on February 20th, 2014 and released on March 5th, 2014. With a response rate of 40% (634 out of 1,582 employees) that included every employee group at SCSU, it may not be a representative sample of SCSU employees but it is a sample diverse enough to support the conclusion that SCSU is not even close to being in the same league as the 100 Best Places to Work.

It's true there wasn't a single question on the survey that asked "Do you have confidence in President Potter's leadership?" It's equally true that a number of questions asked in the survey help answer the question.

Questions were answered in reference to the employee's "Workgroup" and "Organization." All of the questions presented focus on the response to the "Organization." According to the Great Place To Work Institute (GPTWI), "Organization” refers to the University as a whole. Management of the organization refers to the senior level members of the administration, "including the President, Provost, and Vice Presidents."

All fifteen questions in the survey from the PowerPoint slides released on March 5th, 2014, which begin "Management…" are presented in what follows. The cumulative effect of these fifteen survey items serves as a surrogate for a simple vote of confidence or no confidence. These fifteen questions are a direct evaluation of the President and his management team. The data presented have not been edited except in the format used in presentation.

For all of the data, the red bar represents the average value for the "100 Best Companies." All of the blue bars represent the derived values from those who completed the survey at SCSU. Where there are no red bars, the question was generated locally so the number must be interpreted without a comparison.

Editor's note: See the attached graphic for the survey results.

The average score of the survey respondents on these fifteen questions is 28.6 as compared to the average score of the so called Great Place to Work "100 Best Companies" at 84.0. This demonstrates a rate that is just barely over one-third of the value of a "Great Place to Work" (28.6/84.0 = 0.34.0).

These might not have been the same questions asked in a vote of no confidence survey. However, the scores to questions like Management shares information openly and transparently (20), Management involves people in decisions (23), Management delivers on its promises (26), Management makes sound financial decisions (28), and, last but not least, Management is competent (32) demonstrate a complete lace of trust in the administration on the part of those who took the survey.

Pretty soon, we'll probably hear that 60% didn't take the survey and this "Silent Majority" supports the administration. Also, we'll probably hear that 40% is not significant enough of a response rate to be meaningful. In the last non-presidential election year (2010), the voter turnout in the District of Columbia was only 26.2% of eligible voters. Texas was a close second at 26.9% of eligible voters voting. In 2010, 26 out of 50 states had a lower than 40% voter turnout. I don't remember hearing anyone calling those elections not valid. The winners are called mayor, representative, governor and senator. A response rate of 40% for this type of survey is actually quite good. The administration just doesn't like the results.

Analysis of the results show that the faculty had the lowest level of support for the administration. If this had been a faculty vote of no confidence, the results would likely have been much worse for the administration. However, the fact that the results include faculty, staff and administrators demonstrates the results consider the administration's performance from a wide perspective—and the data is consistently negative independent of employee group.

I've given a lot of tests over the years and I can't recall a single incidence of someone receiving one-third of the points of the "A" students in the class and receiving a passing grade. The results are in and the people have spoken. You can put whatever kind of spin on it you would like. SCSU is not a "Great Place to Work" and it's time for EP3 to move on.

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