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6 key challenges facing today’s public sector


6 of the biggest challenges for the public sector


As the pace of change finally overtakes our ability to keep up with it, our public sector services are increasingly feeling the pressure to not only continually do more for less, but to radically rethink the rules of the game completely.


The following 6 key drivers are top of the priority list facing just some of our public sector clients; 

1. It’s a VUCA world out there! 

With a heady mix of Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity it’s no wonder we are all feeling a little ‘change fatigued’. It seems like a constant barrage of change initiatives one after another. And with recent research telling us that 70% of change fails, motivation has hit an all-time low. So how do we address this? We need a seismic mind shift away from Change Management to a much more agile Change Platform approach and we need to equip our people with the thinking systems they need to not only cope with this level of change but to embrace and ultimately drive it. 

  • Read our blog on "7 steps to successfully managing people through change"

Alice meets the Red Queen running on the spot, and getting nowhere. Alice runs alongside her and says, “In my world, we run to get somewhere” to which the Red Queen replies: “Oh no, here you have to run as fast as you can just to stay in one spot. If you want to go somewhere, you have to REALLY run!” 


2. The technology

Are public sector leaders ready for what technological changes mean in terms of engaging with society? Can leaders keep up with technological trends as a way of interacting with society and engaging employees? How will technological changes impact on how public services are organised, on how services are delivered to citizens, and on how citizens can contribute? 

Technological change in the public sector is a particularly topical issue; the rapid pace of technological change is having a wide ranging impact on how public services are organised and how services are delivered to the public.


3. Changing perceptions

Public services are becoming more transparent and how this affects public service leaders is a key issue. This is linked to the technological developments which mean that society is monitored by the media 24/7. For example; the public equipped with cameras in mobile phones are increasingly becoming ‘citizen journalists’. 

As a result of such coverage, leaders in this sector have seen their public profile increase in recent years. This can lead to resultant changes in the public perception of leaders. “Once taken as a hero, a leader is in fact seen as a villain.” 

What example can you think of where this has happened?


4. Increasing expectations

The public as a group are becoming an increasingly complex and diverse population, with growing, shifting and contradicting expectations. People may now view themselves as ‘private consumers’. There is a greater expectation from the public that Government Agencies will provide a level of service comparable to that of the private sector (in terms of service, personalisation and choice). 

What leaders need to really understand is that public services need to be able to be tailored to the needs of each individual member of society. There is a need for a move from e-government to i-government as the iPod generation expects personalised service delivery. 


5. People empowerment

Information technology is changing the relationship between people, politicians and public servants, creating a more networked society.  There is already a large amount of user generated content which is publicly available. For example: in blogs and forums, patients looking up health information online, people signing online petitions. This is having a wide-ranging impact on how public services are organised and services delivered.

  • Discover what was meant when a Chief Executive stated, ‘they were blown away by the people’s passion and commitment to the town’.


6. Changing workforce

As the older generation, ‘Baby Boomers’ retire; younger generations, ‘Generation X’ and ‘Generation Y’ workers will be needed to fill middle and upper management roles. The public sector has traditionally been seen as a safe, secure career; a job for life; where workers can move up the career ladder, until retiring on a good pension. 


However, evidence suggests that younger generations do not hold this traditional view towards employment. The challenge for leaders is being aware of, understanding and handling the different work ethics of younger generations. Leaders will have to get the best out of a workforce with natives of two different ages – the industrial age and the information age – who embrace very different philosophies and work ethics. 

The rejection of the ‘job for life’ concept by younger employees may well bring about changes that drive the future development of public services: introducing more competitive orientated and performance focused careers. 


Which of these is YOUR biggest challenge? 

Contact us for a chat about how we could help you beat your blockers and take your organisation into the future.


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