Why I am ‘public service’! Why are you?

At the beginning of August, I responded to this question, by Andrew Krzmarzick, which he posted on GovLoop:

A couple years ago, GovLoop founder Steve Ressler and I embarked on a project to ask people why they were proud to be public servants. We got a variety of responses through the “I Am Public Service” project.

I’m assuming many of the same stories and perspectives apply:
– Job security
– Working for the common good
– Being responsible stewards of public resources
But maybe there are different reason for choosing public sector employment in the UK.
So how would you respond to this question: Why are you ‘public service’?
My response was as follows:
Hmm, great question! I wonder if it is too much to slightly slant the question to, Why have I become ‘public service’? The three perspectives above (bearing historically ‘job security’ as one of them) are pretty on the money. In vast majority of cases meant, in others I guess the correct thing to say. They are things I’ve said for a while now, myself.
However, I find it’s what is behind the words and sentiment and the “I’m here to do good” for the public, which is the important thing. I think for some, me included, it is a transitional thing from genuine sentiment to something more progressive.

Those “Working for the common good” and “Being responsible stewards of public resources”, are great, but are potentially in someways still ‘passive positives’. They come to work, work hard, earn their money and provide value to that public money that pays them that wage. The value of these people should never, and I will never, underestimate the importance of this attitude…it gets things done!

What is becoming apparent from a personal point of view though, is that I am beginning to mix, collaborate and work with people who are continuously seeking improvement, change, innovation, in order to squeeze more and more added value out of public resources…’progressive positives’! This is where I feel I am at the moment, it’s where I want to be, even in these times of uncertainty.

I find this is why, in true Spartacus style, ‘I am public service’…and I bet a whole host of others can stand up and say the same.

Mine is probably not the most inspiring of stories, more an accidental transition. However, my answer was inspired by somebody elses story, which in turn gave my own thoughts some context and shape. There must be other stories of interest, where it’s been somebody’s calling.
I’d be interested to hear about those journey’s if people were prepared to indulge me, and themelves!

2 thoughts on “Why I am ‘public service’! Why are you?

  1. Very commendable – I am glad you feel that you can be progressively positive! Having spent 20 yrs (give or take ) in public service I no longer have such a positive attitude. In 2009 I left my post as a child protection Social Worker, hopefully, forever.


    Initially the need to do good and serve the community was very strong, as was the need to protect our children within our community. My parents saw the job security and the career forever as a real positive.
    But I found that my colleagues came from two camps;
    1) Career for life, sick pay, holiday pay…why put in much effort?
    2) I will work all hours to do a very good job and encourage the community to care for the children.

    The infighting and back stabbing was awful. The turnover of staff so high I could have more than 3 managers within a year. There were so many hoops to jump through to progress and gain accolade for your work it took so much of your time the few who managed to do it were those in the No1 category.

    But worst of all the fact that your back is wide open… facing a potential Serious case review all the systems in place to ensure your work was safe (serious hoops) suddenly drop away and it’s you facing the buck!

    I feel the need to protect our children as a community – what would have happened to Jamie Bulger if any member of the public had stepped in and asked to see Jamie’s Mum? But the public service role ? I’d rather flay myself with nettles.

    • Thanks for your response Nicola.

      There is obviously serious pressure and uncertainty at this time in localgov. However, professions such as yours are something I could never see myself being able to cope with. My Mother is a social worker, and stress and ‘hoops’ and lack of other (services) not being prepared to take responsibility seems utterly amazing and deplorable.

      Despite uncertainty around jobs, I am probably lucky in the sense that I do not have to live with the stress of a job such as yours was, where I expect you were often running to stand still!

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