A Leading Perspective

Pragmatic insights for the leader in you

Shift Happens! (Or at least it should!)

During a client meeting the other day, I found myself thinking of the word “paradigm.”  I use this word a lot when I teach or coach as I often have to challenge people to think outside the box, get creative and innovative or otherwise bust out of their paradigm.

A paradigm is an intellectual perception accepted by an individual or society as a clear example, model or pattern of how things work in the world.

Or, to put it another way, it is our perception of reality…our interpretation of people, events or things based on previous teachings or experiences.


A paradigm shift could be explained as the moment our thinking changes, opens up or totally reverses!  Indeed, it’s a good thing when shift happens! 🙂


Human Resource professionals have a few paradigms that could use some shifting.

A few that became obvious during my meeting are discussed below.


Close physical proximity to our customer is needed to provide good service.

I must call BS on this one.  I oversaw an HR office where 75% of our customers were over 600 air miles away. The feedback we consistently received from these long distance customers was that our service was excellent.  How did we do it?  We were knowledgeable and we were responsive.  We were great listeners and we were pro-active communicators.  We made good use of our time and we used our travel resources wisely.  We were patient yet persistent.  We were accountable at all costs.

With collaborative technology, there is absolutely no reason why HR staff can’t work well from afar.  Furthermore, everyone has a smart phone in their pocket so we’re all a quick call, text or email message away.

I love face to face communication and I’ll never opt for technology when I have the chance to meet in person.  But I don’t buy that you have to have it or that you need to be next door to your customer to provide good service.


People at certain “levels” in the organization must speak to someone at the same “level.”

This one irritates me to no end!  The reason why this paradigm exists is because in the past, a certain uppity up in your organization didn’t get the service he/she needed and/or wanted from your staff and therefore, went higher up the food chain.

Want to bust out of this paradigm and dispel the myth that is wasting so much of your valuable resources?  Provide decent service at all levels.  Delegate correctly and give your employees the tools, information and authority needed to do their jobs well.  And for goodness sake, quit enabling this stupid behavior.  Start telling that certain uppity up that your employees can and will help.


Decisions and/or communications have to be made within a certain hierarchy (ie., the organization chart)

I suppose we could all live in this paradigm, especially if we wanted to ensure ineffectiveness, inefficiency and irritation from many.

I dislike it when people only manage and/or communicate within the lines of an organization chart.  I think they should instead “manage the white space.”  My dear friend and mentor, Joel Casto, taught me about this many moons ago.  We should not limit ourselves, our creativity, our time, etc. by following the darn lines.  If someone needs to be a part of something, invite them!  If someone has information you need, get it!  If you have something someone else needs, by all means give it to them!


We have to lead the market in pay to retain the best talent.

Nothing makes me chuckle more than watching some doofus throw money at a problem that has nothing to do with money.  Talented and motivated employees care about competitive wages…that is true…but wages have for years been below the top 5 needs/desires of our talented workforce.

It’s typically the managers and supervisors who are less than stellar leaders who believe you have to pay people more to get them to stay.  HA!  How about we convince them to take a walk to the nearest mirror and give themselves a long, free of charge look?  What they see in the reflection is why their staff is leavingWhy don’t we start with improving that?



HR can only be effective if its leadership is a business partner or…don’t shoot me with using this darn phrase…has a “seat at the table.”

I’m speaking on this very subject this month for the 2012 HR Florida Conference & Expo!  I hate using the phrase “seat at the table” because it reminds me of when I used to cry and snivel because I wasn’t allowed to eat with the big kids at family gatherings.  My mom used to say, “Heather, if you acted like a big kid, I might consider putting you there!”  Ouch!  But, I will admit, this was a good lesson learned!

As an HR professional who has worked very hard to be respected in her community, her work, etc., I find it amusing that so many of my colleagues think it’s their title and/or their participation in executive level meetings that makes them a business partner.

That’s a load of bull – it’s about being influential.  To be influential, you have to have trust and respect from others.  To have trust and respect from others, you need to demonstrate knowledge, expertise, integrity, gumption, confidence, accountability and good old fashioned kindness.

Your title gives you a spot on the organization chart…and you already know what I think about being a slave to that.  Your invitation to those meetings gives you a pretty view, decent coffee and, if you’re lucky, a doughnut.  But if no one is asking you a darn thing during those meetings and/or if most are engaged with their IPads or phones during your presentation, trust me, you have no influence.


I know there are many more paradigms but I’m coming up on 1000 words and heaven forbid I bust out of my paradigm that says good blogs aren’t over 1000 words!  🙂


I’m sure there are many who disagree with the opinions I have offered…feel free to comment and let’s talk about it!





ChangeEmployee RelationsHuman ResourcesLeadershipParadigmsRole of HR

Heather Kinzie • August 5, 2012

Previous Post

Next Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published / Required fields are marked *

WordPress spam blocked by CleanTalk.