There is a reason why there are more management posts in the public sector and it's nothing to do with bureaucracy or inefficiency. The new leader of the council was fond of making comparisons from his background in industry " over managers and under occupied". He had no doubt that an easy and relatively uncontroversial way to save money was to cut one in five management posts. It also had the advantage of putting officers on the back foot in the desire to shift away from what his party saw as an officer led organisation. He failed to appreciate a key difference between the private sector he had experience of and the large complex local authority he sort to run namely the sheer diversity of services. Cutting so many management posts inevitably resulted in combining the management of a range of services under one manager. The result managers being responsible for services they had no previous experience in or knowledge of. What's more these services had nothing in common except they shared the same manager.
Staff might reasonably question what their new senior manager knew about their service, managers might lack confidence in the ability of their senior manager to appreciate the issues and provide appreciate advice and support. Most worryingly they may feel that their new manager does not share their enthusiasm and commitment to the service at a time when services are being cut and professional posts replaced by cheaper unqualified staff. Not that this worried the leader if it meant senior managers were less protective of "their"services.
But what if things go wrong or should I say what happens when things do go wrong. When the the senior manager is over reliant on the professional advice of those below. When the advice is considered partial and ignored without fully appreciating the consequences. When ignorance of the service leads to increased risks. Whose head will role ?
Blair McPherson Equipping managers for an uncertain future published by Russell House www.blairmcpherson.co.uk
Sent from my iPad