After savage budget cuts public sector organisations will look very different.They will require a very different type of manager.
New smaller organisations will have fewer staff and a lot fewer managers. Fewer managers means greater spans of responsibility. Managers will find themselves responsible for a very broad range of services in which they have no professional background and no technical expertise. They will have to rely on their management skills and be enthusiastic delegators.
The job you are doing now will not be the job you are doing in two or three years’ time. The pace of change is getting faster and managers need to be equipped to keep up.
To equip managers for an uncertain future we will need to change the emphasis from professional expertise to management competence. The new public sector will require all managers to have a set of core management competencies that include managing finance, managing information, managing equipment and buildings and, most significantly, managing people.
When it comes to managing people all managers will be expected to show leadership skills, to take responsibility and be able to inspire their staff.
Managers’ people skills are even more relevant in a harsh financial climate when they are required to do more with less, to increase their spans of responsibility, to negotiate new ways of working and to keep partners on board when their instincts are to retreat to their core business.
This type of manager requires a management development programme that aims to develop generic managers, people with transferable management skills, people who have the confidence and ability to move from one service to another, people who are equipped for a fast changing and uncertain future. Yet there will be no big training budget for expensive management development and a new public sector cannot afford to invest in training for only the few - it needs all its managers equipped for the future.
This means managers and aspiring managers will have to take a lot more responsibility for their own development. We can expect to see a growth in the use of management learning sets and mentoring to explore a range of typical management issues, to think about how their behaviour affects others and to identify the type of management behaviour their organisation is seeking to encourage.
Management development will be less about acquiring qualifications and more about the benefits to the organisation, less academic and more focused on life as a manager at a time of budget cuts, services reductions and redundancies. The aim will be to get mangers thinking and talking about how you keep staff motivated, how you keep customers satisfied and how you will develop as a manager in the new climate of austerity and uncertainty.