It’s a weird world out there!!

I never mean to stay away for as long as I do, but life often takes over and at the moment it seems to be all work and no time for me!
I’m at that place where I am busy with existing contracts and work (my new addiction – sort of), trying to branch out and network potential clients, and catching up with old friends and as a result I seem to be either running about or staying up late to write a report, meet a deadline or plan my diary.

No sympathy please, its all self inflicted.
However, some interesting things happen along the way and it’s worth taking a moment to write some of it down and share it with you
For instance, I’ve come into contact with former colleagues; particularly civil servants and they are in all kinds of turmoil because of the looming cuts to funding (as I am sure others are too). For some the turmoil is making them stressed, making them work harder, be tougher, be indispensable as they want to assure their place in the ‘new world’ (more of which later)
Others are opting to take some of the many ‘golden goodbye’ deals on offer e.g. leave now and get a generous payoff.
I know several former colleagues that have agreed to leave the civil service and are getting 2-years money (over £100k), the pension will kick in a few years down the road (with another six figure lump sum then above average wage e.g. over £25k for the rest of their lives) and in the meantime they are going to walk into other publicly funded posts all at a minimum of £40-50K per year.
This is happening with alarming regularity and the newspapers only pick up on the high profile, ‘heads of service’ moves, but for each top exec there are many more middle and senior managers taking the payoffs, getting pension top ups or early retirement and a significant proportion of those walk straight into new, often publicly funded posts – some of the stunts being pulled in the public sector are shocking and staff are getting well over the statutory minimum for redundancy and the taxpayer foots the bill. More scrutiny of publicly funded redundancy deals is definitely required (oh, and as they walk into the new post the first thing they do is sign up for the pension as nearly all are less than 55-years of age thus preparing for the next pension and financial turbo boost in old age)
The same publicly funded organisations are also squeezing front line services to do more with less. It’s a weird time out there.
I’ve also come across quite a big strategic deficit. Organisations trying to muddle through because of a lack of strategic direction. Take prison drug services for instance, something I am heavily involved in at the moment. There are so many different approaches to the same task i.e. transferring responsibility of prison based substance misuse services from MoJ/NOMs to DoH/PCTs/DAATs – its a bit of a minefield just learning the language, acronyms and abbreviations.
The transfer was announced in March 2011 to take effect as of 1.4.11. The initial central advice on completing handover of services and having new services in place has moved from, ‘needs to be done by April 2012, to summer 2012, to Oct 2012 at the latest to April 2013 – what!!!!!
The rush to impress ministers, to make a splash (as mentioned above, so as not be replaced, to look tough, dynamic etc) has led to more speed and less haste. While localities are moving forward as steadily as possible the central govt. depts. seem to be at odds with each and singing from different hymn sheets – all very confusing for those attempting to identify need, write new service specifications and deliver something approaching recovery based services that meet prisoner’s needs
In the end, my experience is that there are too many staff that were recruited against specific project funding streams, and are now surplus to requirements but cannot be downsized without great expense
There are particularly huge numbers of central and regional staff (some good value but many working as ‘clip board holders’) and there is a shortage of good, experienced and skilled frontline and delivery staff. If well managed, central (national/regional) staff could be re-deployed into the front line, at minimal cost if there was the will, and a plan to do it – something which is sadly lacking in my view – no one is taking a whole system view (maybe the cabinet office needs to put its foot down)
Doing this simple task could reduce the stress workers and managers feel, increase productivity at the frontline, and reduce the cost burden of these ridiculous (un-scrutinised) taxpayer funded pay off deals
I’ll try not to stay away so long next time
All the best
ps – this post is also available on my ‘wired in’ blog, click link as there are other posts there that dont appear here