A Leading Perspective

Pragmatic insights for the leader in you


High Road (HR)

I’m not a huge fan of Donald Trump and I don’t think I’ve ever watched The Apprentice.  However, I thought of Mr. Trump this afternoon when I fired a client.  Yep, you read that right, I fired a client.  It doesn’t happen often but it has happened before.

It was the right thing to do.

I don’t take the severing of this relationship lightly.  I am a consultant; I rely on billable hours to pay my mortgage, put food on the table and keep my Internet connection!

But as a Human Resources Professional, I had to bid them farewell.  As a Human Resources Professional, I had to do the right thing, regardless of how hard it was to do.

We’ve all been faced with these decisions.

Managers push back HARD when we offer our advice and counsel; the pressure to “give in” is difficult to bare.  Leadership often engages in “voluntary non-compliance,” claiming they are “managing risk” and that you shouldn’t worry about it.  HA!  Shoot, sometimes your own colleagues weigh the probability of getting caught against the trouble of doing the right thing in the first place.

The figurative fork in the road comes often and HR Professional is faced with a tough decision…but is there really a choice?

I believe we should always choose Principle Lane, Ethics Parkway, Moral Road or Honest Avenue.  It’s not easy but it’s right.  We owe it to the workforce, we owe it to our Employer, and we owe it to our profession to do the right thing time and time again!

My client didn’t think FLSA was a big deal.  They had multiple employees who, upon review of their job descriptions, were obviously misclassified as exempt.  I completed my audit and made my recommendations…and was told to ignore the FLSA issue.

Their argument?  “The chances of any of the employees 1) figuring it out on their own and 2) doing anything about it were slim to none.”

No big deal, right?

Wrong!  It was not fair, it was not just, and it was not honorable.

The client was right about a few things.  It was highly unlikely that the employees would realize they were being cheated.  And given the culture of the workplace (yet another thing I learned more about during my audit), there was virtually no chance the employees would ever assert their rights.

We spent some time talking about this dilemma and after awhile, I was certain about two things: the client knew the employees were being cheated and the client simply didn’t care.

Therefore, I packed up my briefcase, told them my invoice would be forthcoming, and fired them.

As I type this post, I realize you are or will be faced with similar dilemmas, and I’m sorry because it’s not pleasant.  However, I urge you to remember what our profession is all about.  Don’t lose sight of the fact that we are now and should continue to be leaders…and that our workforce is watching!

I’m not afraid of nose bleeds – feel like joining me on the high road?


CompassEthicsFairnessGood FaithPush Back

Heather Kinzie • January 20, 2012

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  1. Steve Browne January 22, 2012 - 9:08 am Reply

    Heather – you’re right in saying that severing a relationship is never easy whether it’s a client or an employee. It’s not something HR should EVER be comfortable with because it affects people in dramatic ways. You did the right thing though because you shouldn’t support someone who willing chooses to skirt the law. Well done !!

  2. Heather Kinzie February 3, 2012 - 10:23 pm Reply

    Steve, so true! It has always bugged me when I hear an HR Professional…or Manager for that matter, say that a termination or disciplinary action “was easy” – makes me worry for all involved!

    Thanks for visiting…come back again soon! 🙂

  3. Marcos February 19, 2012 - 4:42 am Reply

    Nice blog post, neat blog layout, continue the great work

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