The Future of Staff Groups:
Daring to Distribute Power
By Joel P. Henning
n The Future of Staff Groups, Joel Henning outlines how the often-derided overhead functions - Finance, Human Resources, Information Technology, Quality, even Marketing - can add value to the business, and what they need to do to achieve that.
Henning argues that staff groups can advance their own cause by being seen to advocate for important changes, including:
- Discontinuing the belief that their own survival and success rests in the hands of senior management.
- Choosing to become "businesses at risk" by facing external competition and treating senior management as the "banker", not the customer. The true "customers" are the business units and departments that could benefit from the expertise and products of staff groups.
- Offering tangible business results, which requires expertise, relevance and accountability.
- Being confident of their own core competence and the circumstances under which their expertise will add value to the business unit and the organization.
- Adopting the stance that the central role of staff groups is to build the "capacity" of the business units they serve.
- Recognizing that power has five basic components, literacy, choice, accountability, competence and resources. The greater the distribution of power, the greater the flexibility of every member of the organization to respond appropriately to customers' requests.