Wednesday, April 15, 2020

They never go quietly

I've often compared the Corbyn leadership with those moments in education when we had a problematic management. It felt the same. And the experience was always independent of the various political/educational views that management identified with. It strikes me that there are some generic lessons that can just as easily apply to the situation in Labour with the leaked submission to the EHRC. It's not that there aren't specific political issues, it's just that they are manifesting themselves in a far too familiar way.

1. When the management comission a report detailing how most of the staff think that the management are sodding useless and would do anything to get rid of them, this is not the masterstroke they think it is. It doesn't show that the management are good. Spying on the staff to get details about how rude they are about management in private doesn't help their case either.

2. Management accepting some failings and then saying that they only screwed up because the staff were being nasty to them, does not exonerate them.

3. If they leak a document containing actionable defamations and evidence of civil and criminal breaches of data protection legislation, naming complainants and putting staff at risk, they shouldn't think that it puts them in a good light.

4. There are always factions in any workplace (even more so in political parties). If factionalism becomes destructive, that means that it has been poorly managed. Factionalism doesn't mean that grievances against management are not real.

5. If the management says they would have had a magnificent success if it hadn't been for the disloyalty of the staff, laugh. It's always easier to plead betrayal than to be self-critical and take responsibility for your own actions.

And here are two tips:

1. When you want to bitch about management, don't do it on your work email or server. That is dumb.

2. When a new management comes in, riding on a wave of support and goodwill, they mustn't think that they can clean up the mess by being emollient with their predecessors and fudging the issues. If they don't act swiftly and decisively to resolve the conflicts and deal with the substance of the discontent, the problems will continue worse than ever and the new management will fail as badly as the old. The old regime are never the friends of the new.

I've seen lots of similar situations in my thirty years in education, including during a horrible time as union branch secretary. None of it is fun. The discontents were always real and needed dealing with. Usually, the cost was borne by the staff in the end. We should understand that the problem was not the staff. Instead the cause was inept and incapable leadership, using its power to protect itself, just as it would in any other organisation.

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