Disappointing performances, poor results, critical audits, damming inspection reports is it always the managers fault? Budget cuts remove much of the room for manoeuvre. Management restructuring results in loss of experience in critical areas. Redeployment places some square pegs in round holes. Service reorganisation, redundancies and changes in working practises impact on moral. Increased work loads mean managers demand more. Team work loses out as individuals have no capacity or energy to help out colleagues. People don’t like the new and unfamiliar ways of working, they are unconvinced by the managers claims that it has delivered better results in other places and will do for them once they get use to it. When things go wrong team members feel their criticisms of the system have been proved right. They question whether senior management is still in touch with the reality of front line experience. They lose confidence in their managers ability to address their concerns or get senior management to listen.
The manager sees de motivated , demoralised and increasingly cynical individuals just going through the motions. Should they challenge individuals, demand that they act professionally and do their best whether or not they agree with the strategy. Or should they sympathise with the difficulties of putting a new system in place, one that they have no confidence in. Should the manager collude with the staff and agree expectations are unrealistic in view of budget cuts and the loss of posts. Should the manager retain the teams support at the expense of disassociating themselves from the decisions of senior managers /those at the top of the organisation?
Senior managers see their middle managers resisting, blocking and delaying change. They hear the cynicism coming up through the organisation. They can appeal directly to staff, explain face to face why changes are necessary and spell out the reality of the financial situation. They can appeal to their professionalism. They can recognise the difficulties and challenges faced by staff and acknowledge their efforts. Or they can say in such desperate times debate and discussion our pointless. The changes are necessary and urgent, they are also unwelcome and unpopular and no amount of, “management road shows “is going to change that.
If this doesn’t work it will be the managers (at the top )who are blamed but is it always their fault?
Blair Mcpherson former Local Authority Director , author and blogger www.blairmcpherson.co.uk