Why does “I’m from head office” always have to be a negative introduction?

Sometimes, there is nothing more enjoyable in business than a good moan about head office, and this is never more true than when the head office function in question is HR. When considering corporate centres and the role of head office, we often find ourselves asking how much this negative reputation is the inevitable consequence of the exercise of control.

I don’t believe it is. In my opinion, the negative reputation of the corporate centre can be mitigated by the way in which that control is exercised.
In my experience, there are a number of styles of corporate centre, each with their own traits and personality. The winning companies are those who match their style to the needs of the business. In choosing and implementing the most appropriate style, the power of leadership is obvious. From the first engagement with the senior executive team, to the clarity with which the most junior staff understand what the centre does, strong leadership is paramount.
Looking at all of the styles of corporate centre, there is no “one fits all” answer, or a “right way” to lead the company. Nor is there is a single factor that drives the choice of corporate centre. Research carried out by Maxxim Consulting has shown there is no correlation between turnover, number of employees, type of business and corporate centre style, which does not make it easy when looking to restructure! In my opinion, the most important factor we have identified is a very simple one – the centre needs to be fit for purpose and to support the company’s strategy. It is essential to look at your company, its culture, and how it is set up, and work out from there how to best structure your corporate centre.

However much people like to critcise the head office, the role it plays is rarely neutral – it always has an impact, whether positive or negative. This means that it’s worth taking the time to get it right. If you correctly align your corporate centre style with the needs and requirements of your company, “I’m from head office” can become a positive, rather than a negative statement.





Tim Ringo, Partner in Maxxim Consulting

Tim Ringo is a Partner in Maxxim Consulting. His main focus is helping clients develop engaged, high performing workforces aligned to corporate centre strategy and business objectives.
Tim is former Vice President and Global Leader of IBM’s Human Capital Management consulting practice. He has over twenty years experience in helping clients create organisational change and workforce performance through the implementation of effective talent management strategy, processes and technology. Prior to working with IBM, Tim spent 16 years at Accenture where he was Executive Partner in Accenture’s Human Performance Service Line.