How not to be loved

How needy are YOU? Take this test to find out!

Question 1 How much do you want to feel loved?

A: I am a strong independent soul who doesn’t need but will gratefully accept loving.

B: I need a cuddle.

If you answered mainly B’s, you are Local Government!

Yesterday was a nationwide day of twitting by Local Government. They were

“sharing their stories and celebrating all the good work their councils get done throughout the year using #OurDay. “

Local Government was giving itself a great big e-cuddle. There were over 8,000 self-congratulatory tweets, from “hurray! Our report was passed at sub-committee” to “345 letters opened in the mail room“.  These are made-up, as it would be nasty to pick a couple of tweets to hold up and say “I don’t like this”.

What I don’t like is how a branch of government has become so needy it can say things like below.

“At its best local government can make a lasting difference to the lives of the residents it serves and even at its worst you can guarantee that the motives will be good and that there will be something interesting to talk about.”

I read that quote out to the room I was in, and straight away someone else in it repeated back the 3 syllables I was expecting. Baby P.

It could have been any of the other 100 or so children under 2 who have died since.  I’m not having a go at the commentator who typed those words originally, of course he couldn’t have in mind this sort of example of Local Government “at it’s worst”. But this is the worst it can get and I’m not thinking about how many interesting things there are to talk about it. It’s just horrible.

So why do Local Governmentites talk like this? This is normal. They need it. It, being validation and gratitude. I am unaware of any other branch of government doing this. Does the army conduct surveys of civilians asking questions like;

“Do you agree or disagree that the army is doing a good job?”

Local Government does. That is a typical question from an annual survey that the vast majority of Local Authorities run. Yes, asking residents if a Council is doing “a good job“.  Imagine the detailed improvement work that could be initiated by the answer to that question! It really gets to the root of things. Except of course it doesn’t. It is merely asking residents “How much do you like us? Like us please”

When you go to work in the morning to the tap factory/pork butchers/bookmakers do you want to be loved? Do you want to be loved for your shiny taps, succulent pork belly or competitive betting odds? Or because you are dreadfully needy and depend on your customers telling you how good you are all the time? And when they don’t, you tell yourself exactly how good you think you are?

I am acutely familiar with Local Government patting itself on its back in private. There are many examples I can think of of newly arrived senior leaders telling us that we are very good at selling ourselves short and need to be more pleased with and shout about all the good things we are doing. Thus giving us the excuse we needed to carry on doing the very thing that we never stopped doing.

But this is different, this is Local Government patting itself on its back in public. shouting from the rooftops to people…Capture

God knows what this looks like to customers, residents, real people.  I am firmly convinced that the best way to show off, is to show off a brilliant service. Don’t tell, show. If you have to tell, it’s probably because you’ve got nothing worth showing.

Below are real customer quotes, from people who unprompted gave these actual phrases to members of staff because they were delighted. They are worth a million self-congratulatory tweets because they come from the only people who can truly decide whether Local Government is doing a good job.

Pay attention Local Government, if you want to be loved, be lovable.

This entry was posted in all wrong, command and control, public sector, systems thinking and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to How not to be loved

  1. Pingback: Why I don’t care about the reputation of my organisation | thinkpurpose

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