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POLITICANS – ARE WE ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS?

Posted by Tim Bryce on August 17, 2010

I’ve been making the rounds through local political meetings lately and have met a lot of candidates for the November elections, everything from congressman, to senator, to county commissioner, to school board representative, to dog catcher. There’s a lot of new faces running for office, probably because they realize the citizens are fed up with the status quo. Interestingly, I noticed a lot of the new faces are not much better than the old faces.

I don’t care what party you’re in, there’s a certain level of “smarminess” associated with a politician running for office. Maybe it’s because the candidate is trying to appease everyone. You have to smile a lot, shake a lot of hands, and be a “Jolly Wally.” I don’t take these type of politicians seriously and I tend to wash my hands afterwards. They’re just plain “smarmy” if you ask me.

I’m generally disappointed in the types of questions we ask candidates. People tend to ask about their position of the catastrophe du jour. I tend to believe it’s rather easy to answer such a question in retrospect. It’s a lot harder to get them to give their opinion on what they would do in a future calamity; you tend to get vague generalities in this situation.

I don’t believe we are asking the candidates the right questions. As for me, I see this as an interview for a job (which it is). Consequently, we should ask questions about their skills, experience, and why they believe they are qualified for the job. For example, here are the typical questions I like to ask politicians:

* “What is the biggest job you’ve ever had?”

* “How many people have reported to you?”

* “What kind of performance reviews have you had?”

* “How do you accept criticism?”

* “What is the biggest decision you have had to make in your professional career? How did you come to your decision?”

* “What was the largest project you worked on in terms of money and people? What was your specific role in the project? What was the outcome (was it successful or a failure)?”

* “How do you prepare a Feasibility Study? What steps do you go through?”

* “What business skills do you possess? e.g., speaking, writing, negotiations, cost/benefit analysis, return on investment, etc.”

Again, if this sounds like a job interview, it is.

In a Republic, the masses elect people to serve office and in the process make their own decisions. Although they should listen to their constituents, they are not bound to follow popular opinion (which would be a pure Democracy). I therefore want to know if the candidate knows how to make a rational decision and has the proper character for the job.

I would much rather know the answer to these questions, then the latest public relations spin. We need more government officials with character than we need smarminess.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

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Copyright © 2010 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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