I was asked if I would take part in some research into what people experience when moving from the private to the public sector and vice versa. I am always happy to help out where I can with the local universities and having moved from private to public and then back to private I felt that my story may be worth listening too. This is how I found myself being interviewed at Northumbria University by Sarah from the Department of Leadership and Human Resources.
I wrote about the differences between the private and public sectors way back in 2013. The main difference that I found was to do with the relationships with customers. It is very easy to identify the flow of products and services in the private sector. Here an organization can choose which markets it wishes to serve and can develop niche products and services to suit those ends: clothes for youths; food for the discerning; cars for the yummy-mummy and gadgets for the geeks.
In the public sector the relationships with customers, or service users, is much more complicated, much less linear. The public sector provides services if you are alive, or even dead, based upon eligibility which is often stipulated by law.
On reflection there is another difference and that is the amount of consensus that needs to be built in the public sector. Chains of command and influences are not always the same thing. The politics, with both a P or a p, is more nuanced and it requires a lot more effort to get people around to your way of thinking. Relationships are more subtle and very important.
Is it odd that in a sociable enterprise you need to be more social? Of course not. As the products and services you offer are more and more removed from a direct benefit to you then getting people on your side takes time. Perhaps this is why the public sector has the reputation for being ponderous?