The budget setting process starts earlier since austerity became the norm. As the summer comes to an end budget holders have already submitted their proposals based on best case scenario, most likely scenario or worst case scenario. And most are resigned to it being worst case again.
The austerity climate in the public sector has made serial cutters of us all. Where once we were the dreamers and builders now we are the serial cutters. We don't trim budgets or even cut them we slash and hack. It's bloody. What type of person would get any pleasure or satisfaction from this? We might claim it is surgical, skilful and precise. We might claim that in the circumstances there is little choice but when does such major surgery simply become abuse? What is the motivation ,why do we keep doing it? Is it about professional ego, pushing the boundaries to enhance your own reputation?
As you progress up the organisation you develop the ability to switch off or turn down the empathy dials. How could you cut services , make people redundant and generally exploit staff if you could feel their distress and humiliation. The distress of a vulnerable elderly person left for hours in a urine soaked bed due to cutbacks in the home care budget or the humiliation of having to use a food bank to feed your kids dispute working full time.
As a senior manager you can't afford to think about the impact on the individual you focus on the bigger picture target limited resource on the most in need ,even if this does mean taking a service away from vulnerable elderly people. You focus on the numbers not the individuals.
Those on the front line can blame senior management, they can and do say they don't like the decisions and don't agree with them. A senior manager , in public anyway, is required to justify the unjustifiable. Or may be they just say we have no choice and convince themselves it's true.
Blair McPherson former Director, author and blogger, www.blairmcpherson.co.uk