We didn't need all those staff after all
Call it efficiency, call it outsourcing, call it a purge but it turns out you don't need all those managers. If you outsource HR, IT and Admin then you outsource their managers. Likewise if you close half your libraries and most of your sports centres you dispense with the need for their managers. If you combine service like social services and Housing and randomly chuck in libraries, museums and registrars (births, deaths and manages) you can delete some service heads and senior management posts.
Head count reduction achieved and those who dream different dreams, purged. Restructuring complete (almost) closure programs implemented (subject to legal challenges and revised time table) budget savings on course (fingers crossed) management head count reduced (not counting new contract monitoring posts) performance targets achieved (mostly).
So what is life like in the new, smaller organisation?.
Are children safer now the director of education is also responsible for social work and child protection? Are care services of a higher quality now they are provided by staff on zero contract hours? Is HR more helpful now it has it has been outsourced and does the IT system deliver the promised information revolution?
Or is the loss of experienced managers slowing down transformation, are increased spans of responsibility raising issues of accountability as well as anxiety, are managers starting to miss the old friendly IT help desk, are they finding the new outsourced HR service doesn't extent to the practical assistance they were accustomed to.
Does the new organisation still have a blame culture? Are performance targets any more realistic? Have we seen an end to senior managers fiddling the performance figures? Has staff moral improved now things have settled down?
What’s more are service users happier with the services now that they are "customers"? Is it easier to complain and are you more likely to get your complaint resolved now that the service is commissioned by the public sector but delivered by the private sector?
It could only be a matter of time before a tragedy or scandal identifies that management was spread too thin, with the lack of experience meaning the right questions were not asked and senior managers were too reliant on their managers telling them what they need to know.
How long then before we see the return of specialist managers to improve the quality of services and safeguard service users?
Blair McPherson author and blogger www.blair mcpherson.co.uk