It’s a dangerous question. It is a provocative question. It’s a question politicians like to ask. It’s a question newly appointed chief executives ask to unsettle their new management team. It’s the question senior managers ask in defence of their own budgets. It’s a question I was repeatedly asked as a senior manager responsible for support services. It’s a dangerous question because like the nuclear bomb it’s guaranteed if you use it then it will be used on you the result being mutually guaranteed destruction.
When the question comes from a politician it can be dismissed as mischief making or ignorance, when it comes from the chief executive it’s a threat and when it comes from operational/clinical colleagues it’s based on a belief that what they do is more important. You can make a defence in response to this question but you will always be suspected of self interest.
In health and social care services I thought nursing care assistants, home care assistants and residential care staff in Homes for old people would not have to defend themselves against this question but they were the exception. In my organisation it started with HR, quickly moved on to policy and before we realised what was happening it was being asked of managers, all managers!
It was asked of HR, IT and Admin before they were outsourced. It was asked of policy officers before they were replaced by commissioners and contract monitors. It was asked of managers before the “head count reduction”.
The question. What do they do?
Blair McPherson author and blogger www.blairmcpherson.co.uk