Why do managers do it, I often wonder? You are sandwiched between a distant,insistent and impatient senior management team and a knowledgeable group ofworkers, who withhold their co-operation from you because they think you arenot up to it. Are you just coin-operated? Do you have a bit more on the bonus or a fewmore share options? Is your motivation based on money? These issues areparticularly interesting now with the focus shifting to public services andtheir management. For some people, all that is required is a good dose ofprivate-sector management, and our public services will be as well run as BP,the Halifax or, perish the thought, BT, Railtrack or Marks & Spencer. Do the disciplines of the market inevitably make managers more effective?Does the absence of the market lead to slack, dreary, second-rate people whoare managing similar sloths with the result that our services are second rate,our infrastructure inadequate and our public institutions incapable of reform? Years ago, managers in the public services felt they were a breed apart.Some were above commerce and profit as driving forces in society. Serviceitself was enough for their work. Stability and security were welcome featuresof public employment, and job security and a pension made up for uneven accessto great wealth. The Thatcher years altered all that. Graduates became more interested inreal-time salaries in the financial services than the selfless sacrifice oftheir parents in the public sector. Talent was drawn to the flame of financialsuccess as a basis for self-respect rather than community approbation. But the question still remains, how can we improve all performanceeverywhere? Most of us understand as base one that there will be no public servicesat all without the wealth creation sectors of the economy working flat out. Butthe naive view that any manager who works in the private sector will inevitablymake a difference in managing the public services is plainly wrong. Themotivation and commitment of public service workers needs acknowledgement. Thespecial skills in running a school or a hospital are different frominternational securities dealing or biscuit manufacture. But something here is consistent as a theme. How do you unlock the knowledgeand commitment of the staff? Do you manage by concealing information or sharingit? Do you feel diminished if you accept advice from subordinates or do younurture it? Do you have a blame culture for everyone else’s inadequacies exceptyour own? Some business behaviours work everywhere. Respecting the workforce is one,but today it is routinely abused in the mammoth bureaucracies of great stateinstitutions and private small firms alike. Do something about that and we willall succeed.By John Lloyd, National officer, Amalgamated Engineering and ElectricalUnion Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article A little respect for staff can answer questionsOn 3 Jul 2001 in Personnel Today Comments are closed.
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