Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Work/Life Balance
Control & Stress

Hi Sarah and thanks for your email.

I sympathise with your situation and I can see how frustrating it is to watch your job change in character from the one you wanted to one you don't. And furthermore, many of the changes seem wrong and idiotic.

Changes towards more customer focus, and towards delivering better key services for the same or less money, have been happening in the private sector for the last few decades where surviving in a competitive business world was essential. Now they are happening in the public sector, driven by the squeeze on budgets. I
n a world where money is scarce, managers are looking for better, smarter ways to work; to give a better deal for the tax payer.

In principle, I think this is a good thing, however, it sounds like they have thrown the baby out with the bathwater in your case. Sometimes the quality of management is inadequate to the task of managing change; the messages get bent and the wrong answers get implemented on the ground. This might be where you live today.

Your stress is probably driven by your strong sense of injustice, that this is all WRONG and that you ought to - but can't - stop it or fix it.
This one is too complex to give you easy answers in an email, but I have some suggestions:

  1. Internally clarify your role in all of this. Recognise that you are not in control of this national shift.
  2. Do what you can to influence things in the direction you think they can go, but accept that things to happen which you disapprove of, and don't let it eat you up.
  3. If you struggle to do that, ask yourself how you might play a more powerful role. Perhaps you can interact with managers more effectively. Maybe there are committee seats available. Maybe you can start an action group or a BLOG, for example.
  4. Embrace your larger life and place your work in that context. DO lots of things you like doing which don't involve work.
  5. See if you can carve a niche at work which better fits your personal preferences. Can they put you on to things you like doing more and take you off the other stuff?
  6. The Team is the engine which drives the service, which keeps people happy and motivated to do well, and nothing in the Good Stuff above implies breaking up or de-emphasising the team. If that's happening, then it's a mistake. Perhaps you can be an advocate for your team at work. Can you mobilise them (without getting fired!) into a force to represent common sense at work?
I hope that is at least of some help, Sarah. Sorry I can't do better in a one-off email like this.

I am glad you like my articles! Thanks for the lovely feedback.

Good luck at work and in your life.

Take Care,