He had noticed the atmosphere in the office and knew that staff were unhappy.

The way he looked at it was to let them moan as long as they got on with their work. Paul had worked out that his boss, like most senior managers, did not want to hear the moans and groans of staff and had a tendency to shoot the messenger. Senior managers knew staff were unhappy - they expected them to be unhappy - after all, people don’t like change, budget cuts or restructuring. They didn’t need their managers reminding them of this; they needed managers to get on with implementing changes and delivering cuts.

Paul thought that even before the budget cuts, staff were always complaining about workloads. The last thing he wanted was to do was to listen to a group of staff telling him in detail about how staffing cuts had increased their workload.

What was he supposed to do? If he acknowledged the implications, he would either have to fund more staff (which he could not do) or he would have to say what could be left undone (which he wouldn’t). So, best to let it be known what he expected people to do - just get on with it.

When Paul made this clear to his managers they said “well, OK.

If that is the attitude of senior management there is not much we can do about it, Paul thought, but we are likely to get more complaints about the service.

Paul said senior managers would expect people to be unhappy about budget cuts and staff shortages and would recognise that waiting lists may get longer. Senior managers were confident that politicians knew this too.

Paul pondered: what if staff shortages lead to mistakes; what if we have to ask people to take on work above their grade and experience or we haven’t got enough staff to provide correct levels of supervision; or what if staff simply take shortcuts with disastrous consequences? Who will get the blame?

Who do you think?