We're taking a bit of a breather while the world rearranges its underpants. Meanwhile, the other blog is here.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Without justice, what are kingdoms but great robberies?

"Maximising the potential of the workforce" is evidently the latest local government vogue, as the latest "Bobbing Up: An Excellence Toolkit" bumpf is jam-packed with it. Sadly, the sincerity of its impact may have been compromised slightly by Human Resources' sending all staff the results of the Pay & Grading Review, which (due to financial constraints) has led the assessors to declare that it doesn't matter if you and your boss both agree that you're doing a piece of work you can't possibly be doing it on your scale and you may be dropped a scale or two for unfounded boasted. (I paraphrase slightly). To add insult to injury, people were sent each other's results.

This is particularly hard on our Library Assistants, who get a lot of responsibility dumped on them for some of the worst pay in the council. There are times when some of them drive me crackers but I can unequivocably say that they're worth the money, and most of them are worth considerably more than that if only they'd realise it. And because they don't realise it and don't play up their positives they get treated like crap.

They don't all do themselves a favour. Dagmar at Doggedly will run through all the worst-case scenarios possible to the point where you're just ready to give up completely but when you get there and start preparing an activity or event you'll find that she's done as much preparation as you could hope for and is keen to make sure that it goes as well as possible. We were doing some publicity materials for branches as asked around for information about what's going on when Maureen at Roadkill told us "I can't think of anything really." Besides the fact the library's moving house soon, it turns out (after ten minutes' conversation) that she's got a reading group going; a monthly writing group; twice-weekly art and craft activities; home safety sessions with the local gendarmes, etc. etc. etc. And Hedi at Pottersbury Road can paint a long picture of despair about her library which is entirely at odds with the picture you see when you're spending an hour sorting out some of the hardware problems: there she is, cutting out pictures of butterflies, helping small children make bookmarks and making a miserably wet summer holiday afternoon quite a nice experience for them.

Why on earth do they persist in underselling themselves and everything they do? I suppose part of it is that so much local service development has to be done under the management radar. (The week T.Aldous was trooping himself round the libraries saying that visitor counts were dangerously low and we should do things like have reading groups and the such he was also telling somebody on no account should she start a reading group as it wasn't her place to do so.) (And somebody else did get a bollocking for letting somebody start a reading group who "didn't have a good degree.") And so much of what passes for management in this service is devoted to making sure that people know their place. I suppose we're all just cowed into submission. Which might be our maximised potential. (sigh)

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