Moral injury and the damage it does
Article by: Blair McPherson - former Director, Author and Blogger |
Are you a senior manager feeling , anger, shame and guilt? You feel you have been coerced into betraying your principles, your morals have been compromised, people you should have helped have been turned away and you’re angry. You’re ashamed . You feel guilty. Your not alone.
It can happen in any job and any organisation but it’s most prevalent in those professions or areas where individuals are motivated by idealism and doing something worth while, doctors, nurses, teachers, social workers , police, people in the armed forces. These individuals take their professional values and their motivation to help, protect, to make a positive difference to people lives , into senior posts and then they struggle with what they think should be done against what they feel forced to do.
As a former Local Authority Director with a background in Social Services I recognise that feeling of betraying your professional values of making financially driven decision that will have a negative impact on vulnerable people’s lives. Unpalatable decisions which can only be described as the least worst option. Rationing of services or stretching services so thinly that increasingly reports come back of elderly people left cold and wet in urine soaked beds.
Distressed and stressed carers left to struggle on unaided as Day centres for People with a Learning Disability are closed. People with Mental Health problems left vulnerable and unsupported. A child protection safety net with large holes. It’s stressful and not what people entered the profession to do. Hardly surprising that some people feel guilty and anger whilst other become cynical and detached or simply burnt out.
This maybe the extreme but being a compassionate manager working in a heartless organisation where employees are treated like a disposable resource rather that human beings, requiring excessive long hours, pressurising people for unreasonable results causes what is increasingly referred to as, “moral injury “ that is feelings of anger, shame and guilt.