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David Allen of Getting Things Done fame, wrote:

“Many organisations are exhorting their people to be ‘customer driven’ and to ‘go the extra mile’ to add a competitive advantage of extraordinary service that will win more business. But they may not be addressing the ability to handle that business. …… When your front line feels overwhelmed, watch out for resistance to new customers and opportunities.”

That, leaders in the public sector, is how your staff feel every day. Every time you say yes to a government diktat, or to a local authority project, or to a promotion-seeking evidence gatherer, you add to your staff’s stress. Every time you ‘listen’ to your staff and take no notes and do nothing, you’re adding more. And when you take on more and more new work in the knowledge that it’s not you but your front line that has to do it, and you do that without ridding them of the other work, you add stress.

No matter how productive your staff, you cannot just keep loading them with more without then having to wonder why they’ve gone sick for 6 months. And why they sue you for constructive dismissal.

Wake up!

Now would be a great time to look at all that stuff that is building up because of what’s happening, and respectfully, considerately, courageously but resolutely decide what to leave behind when it’s all over.

And where necessary, tell those who want that cr4p that they can’t have it unless they cough up money and resources for the catch up process.

Otherwise the cost of what you think you’ll be doing is going to be a lot more than you can afford.

Loss of morale (minimum), loss of staff (probably) and in extreme circumstances, loss of life. Some people can’t cope.

You’ve all heralded the new world of Mental Health in the Workplace.

Actively choosing what is TRULY important (as opposed to every different department demanding ‘their’ figures and forms be submitted by the end of any working day).

Train your staff in time management methodology,  and divest them – and you – of the Quadrant 3 and Quadrant 4 ‘nice’ stuff that is burning up their potential productivity. THAT is the way to keep staff and create the results that matter.

So put your money where your mouth is. Decide what isn’t going to be done when this is all over. And stand by your decisions.