Doing more with less has become the constant theme for management working in the public sector today. In spite of continuous efforts to create efficiencies and produce results, expectations continue to grow.
The dialogue around delivering results generates discussion in every team environment. How do you manage when you’re expected to constantly do more? What are the best leadership choices you can make? How can you be resilient?
Generally, there are four major challenges that public sector clients tend to focus on. These include:
The Focus On Outcomes
Since the 1990s, governments have placed a greater emphasis on outcomes-based results for leaders. At the time, the emphasis and thinking were that government should behave like a business. Outcome-based initiatives make sense and have taken hold over time. They encourage people to think things through and connect their actions to specific results. Government workplaces have changed focus from outputs to outcomes. This isn’t a left wing/right wing ideology. It’s simply what everybody looks for today.
The Paradox of Innovation and Creativity
There’s a lot of talk in the public sector about innovation and creativity. But this requires an ability to take risks and make mistakes. Consider the stock market and how people make their investments. If you want to make a bigger bang for your buck, you need to take risks. The public sector, however, is generally an extremely risk-averse environment. So how do you balance pushing the envelope in an environment that really doesn’t look favorably upon making mistakes?
The Public Perception of Value
Public services are, by nature, subject to increased media scrutiny and government regulation. Public perception is a big deal – people expect results. Missteps can lead to very public consequences. You don’t want to be the person to try something that didn’t go well and find yourself on the front page of a major newspaper. On the other hand, you don’t want to be considered as lacking initiative. It’s very complicated – knowing how to achieve the right balance in the public eye takes time.