Its tempting to think it doesn't happen in the public sector because we are nice people but do people recent success? Do colleagues feel threatened by someone who has just arrived and starts raising the bar, hits targets with apparent ease, races up the league table and does it whilst delivering efficiency savings and budget cuts? Do colleagues in other departments fear they are being made to look bad for not delivering as much as fast? Do senior managers who have been in the department for ever, man and boy, resent the constant implication that what went before was rubbish. Do the councilors/ board members who so desperately wanted to see the authority/organisation climb the league table now feel they are aboard a runaway train, too many changes happening too fast, so they no longer feel in control?
For years senior managers across the organisation have said progress will always be slow because the areas high levels of poverty and deprivation hold us back, local people are traditional in their thinking and don't like to see to many changes in their services, we are an unfashionable Trust/ organisation and happy to be so, let others have "more pilots than Heathrow ", we will adopt new ways when they are proven. And anyone who knows the history of this place knows the party politics make it difficult to get a consensus. Even the councilors/ board members have bought this view, until now. Success has changed expectations and not everyone is comfortable. As a colleague joked slow down you're making us all look bad.
And so the whispering starts the speculation about how success is really being achieved. "Smoke and mirrors more a case of finding ways to improve the figures rather than improving performance." "All down to those to bright sparks he brought with him from his last place they're the ones with the ideas, they make it happen he's just talks a good game." "How did he get round Equal Opps, I never saw the posts advertised and I understand they are on a unique salary grade." "Well he's not one for bothering too much with procedures, apparently finance are pulling their hair out he just tells his managers to go ahead and he will find the money." "Members are not too happy either he's up setting too many people that the organisation has done business with for years."
At this point the successful one moves on or slows down. After all as the chief executive pointed out in their one to ones a convoy can only go as fast as the slowest ship.
Blair McPherson author of Equipping Managers for an uncertain future published by Russell House www.blairmcpherson.co.uk