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How Not to Downsize – The Public Sector Leads the Way


Things are grinding to a halt, or at the very least a go slow, in many parts of the Public Sector. Of course, the essentials continue – trams are running and bins are being emptied.
But person after person I contact is on accrued leave, or at meetings, or attending a training session, or simply on voice mail………and emails themselves are going unanswered by the dozen. Many I speak to privately are  saying that many things are grinding to a virtual halt. Uncertainty, fear and rumour are the main order of the day.
These aren’t just people who are directly in the firing line, such as in the enterprise support sector: it’s happening all over the place.
There is a knock-on effect, a ripple of something between panic and deep inertia, which has spread out far beyond those quangos and sections which are definitely being wound down, such as the Regional Development Agencies.
This government-driven exercise in value and efficiency is already emerging as the largest scale example ever in this country of how not to manage challenging change.
One might applaud the economic intent but one can also hardly not be appalled at the lack of corporate culture finesse.
The only effective approach in times of retrenchment are fast, decisive acts of communication, cutting and regrouping. The need for drastic action needs to be put clearly, the cuts must be implemented as quickly as possible to a solid plan - and the survivors must be led forwards with fresh purpose.
However, the current landscape is nothing like as clear defined and decisive as this. In many cases, ballpark cuts are being announced long in advance of their detail and their replacement structures (or lack of replacement).
The government is proving itself tremendously (one could say naively) bold on deconstruction, yet perilously unskilled on reconstruction.
For the country the danger is that the undoubted waste within public spending may be replaced by a wasteland of Public Sector morale for a long time to come.
It’s easy to grandstand and to be unidimensionally tough within an organisational context. Great change leadership in dramatic times is an altogether more challenging proposition.

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