Relaxed about the budget, relaxed about the restructuring, relaxed about the prospects of the service being outsourced we may have got it wrong about all those stressed-out public sector managers coping with budget cuts, service reductions and pay freezes. It appears that some managers have adjusted to the new public sector where no one has job security, automatic pay rises or a sense of loyalty to the organisation. It seems that not everyone is taking work home at weekends and evenings or is too busy to take all their annual leave.
Admittedly in my informal survey of former colleagues and friends those who are reportedly relaxed about the budget or unconcerned about outsourcing are more likely to work in IT,HR, Legal or even Finance. Operational managers and those who have direct contact with the public may well be less relaxed about service reductions, de motivated staff and unhappy service users but even they appear to taken on board senior management’s message, “it’s going to happen get over it”.
Now we are into the third year of austerity people have come to see it as the norm to accept that every year there will be further cuts, more efficiency savings and more services outsourced.
People are learning to cope with uncertainty, mangers don’t feel so bad about giving bad news and it not so hard to say no when you can simply say “we can’t afford it”. It’s no longer exhausting justifying another restructuring or further changes to working practices when people accept the management short hand “we have no choice”. It’s not possible to do all the things we use to try and do but then it never was so now you just do what you can and come 5 o’clock on Friday you go home. After the management restructuring there is little chance of promotion and in any case it’s not worth the extra hassle, so Relax don’t do it.
Blair McPherson author of the trilogy UnLearning Management, Equipping managers for an uncertain future and People management in a harsh financial climate published by Russell House www.blairmcpherson.co.uk