I have just invented a new term for myself: ‘Head office syndrome’. I use it to describe the arrogance that many employees seem to have when it comes to working in ‘Head Office’. Evidence of the syndrome is ironically more evident in lower and middle ranked employees rather than with senior managers. This is might be because the senior managers are already fairly well known and do not feel the need to throw their weight around.

So what exactly is ‘Head office syndrome’? It is the use of the words ‘head office’ to convey authority… for example “Hi it’s Jessica, I am from Head office, I was wondering when we are going to receive the reports you promised us?” (Notice how Jessica makes it quite plain where she is from and then uses the word “we” i.e. “we at head office”.  More often than not, the recipient of this message is likely to react (possibly not out loud) “Who the hell are you?”  Had Jessica opened with “Hi John, It’s Jessica from Accounting and Controlling, sorry to bother you but I was wondering when I can expect your report?”  In this second approach he has no doubt who Jessica is and what her role is and Jessica is not hiding behind the head office ‘we’ but is asserting herself as the rightful recipient of the report.

Head office syndrome irritates the hell out of me because it is so patronizing when it has no place to be. It is as if Head Office is somehow on an organization chart and that it has an authority over other lesser locations such as; production units, sales offices and retail outlets – how absurd is that?

In case you are thinking that this only occurs in giant multi-nationals, you would be wrong. It can be found in every company that has more than one building.

As you can possibly sense, I am rather tense this week. The summer is here and next week I leave for my annual motorbike trip (this year Brussels to Budapest and the great plains of Hungary – ten countries in sixteen days: over the Alps and far away).  It’s time for me to re-charge my batteries and to reflect, so no newsletter or blog for a while.  

Have a good three weeks,