Government Sector Private Culture

Before we begin to assume and pass judgement on Private and Government Sector it is important to understand the variations between them.

The simplest way to tell the difference is to see who is in charge!

The private sector usually consists of companies that are privately owned and operated; this may include non-profit organisations and charities.

The government sector consists of various divisions, departments and sectors owned by the government. And depending on the country it includes provincial, state, federal, municipal or local governments.

Government departments tend to focus on providing social services to the public as mandated by law and legislation. Whereas the private sector is not so transparent and their focus lies in maximising profits and results.

There are varying degrees of accountability but managing government and private organisations varies significantly.

Although government sectors may appear to be more accountable, the administration process wreaks havoc with their decision making. They tend to lean toward an “avoidance” culture. This may be due to them being under constant public scrutiny. This also supports the assumption that their commitment tends to be weak and as a result accountability is influenced.

Private business on the other hand will take whatever action is necessary to appease their customers whilst remaining focussed on achieving results and profits.

It is not surprising that the corporate culture in government and private sectors are worlds apart.

Creating a great organisational culture leads to results and efficiency. It’s all about best practice and positive outcomes. In a government setting this would lead to greater productivity, fewer resources in less time and positive customer feedback.

Workers who are happy, motivated and feel empowered will achieve greater results, improve the image and reputation of the company. It will also improve customer satisfaction and feedback as opposed to workers who are unhappy, frustrated and disempowered.

I recently had great pleasure in speaking with an innovative government body. They have been focussing on numerous strategies including restructures and applying service delivery models similar to the private sector. They are at the stage where they are exploring more ways to improve their culture, ethics and values. So committed to this change that they prefer to employ people from the private sector. So far the results have been positive.

This has made me wonder about how many private companies would be eager to employ people from the government sector? Would these workers fit in with the established culture that is unique to the private sector?

Another key factor to consider is “Skills”; afterall all employers focus in appointing the right person for the job. Of course another thing to consider is “Best Fit“. The private sector is more focused on commercial behaviour; motivated by profit and results – whereas the government sector is not so forthright, they are more familiar with due process, beauracracy and compliance. Both areas have different views on work ethic, motivation and decision-making ability.

Lets face it – every work place comes with drama and politics; a dear friend once told me that you take the good with the bad and simply get on with it. But it is the culture of the organisation that will ultimately deliver outcomes. Culture; whether it is toxic or healthy is the glue that holds everything together. It acts as a compass that steers everyone in the right or wrong direction.

In our next Article we will explore what it’s like to move out of Private Sector to work in the Public Sector