The British Council has just put out the results of its latest staff survey which the management spins as showing “increased understanding of objectives” and “greater optimism about the British Council” and “your future”.
Almost everybody (among the 69% who took part) in the British Council (82% of participants) supports the headline contention that “change is necessary in bringing long term benefits to the British Council”. Replace the words “British Council” with anything else and it will be seen to be a rather unremarkable judgement. More tellingly perhaps 70% of staff reject the assertion that “Change is well managed in the British Council as a whole”. The other 30% are, one imagines, the managers themselves. And the results elsewhere, despite the efforts of the numerous managers, betray cynicism regarding BC management e.g. the contention that the organisation “is genuinely interested” in the wellbeing of its staff gets just 50% support (the use of the word “genuinely” is a bit of a giveaway perhaps). And only 36% - including all those managers given the job – support the contention that their UK department will deliver a successful long-term future for the British Council.
We have already seen “the kind of organisation we want to be” as articulated by the “Chief Executive” – i.e. one that siphons off the maximum from taxpayers as well as individuals – and it would appear that an astonishing 44% of British Council staff share that vision and believe their executive board can deliver it. But then two thirds of British Council staff evidently always believe the information they are given. Oh dear. Meanwhile we also learn that a majority of British Council staff do not support the contention that “It is safe to speak up on issues where you disagree with management without it damaging your career prospects”. To put that another way, most British Council staff, whatever else they say, cannot speak freely. Which is possibly why they say they believe what they are told.
An organisation – a “cultural relations” organisation that supposedly represents the UK ffs - where staff toe the line and keep their heads down and their mouths shut because they are frightened for their jobs cannot progress. An organisation that won’t look truth in the face cannot possibly manage change. And any management that believes staff in such a context are showing “greater optimism” about the British Council and their future is stuck in the position illustrated.