By Mark Thomas
The view from the conference room at FineLine HR Consulting is stunning. The window overlooks Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza. Just watching the street scene below, perhaps with a piano sonata for company, would be a tempting way to spend a stretch of time.
Shelly Freeman, the president and CEO of the company, has the talent to easily provide that accompaniment.
Freeman says classical piano was her first love. Her skills in playing the instrument helped fund her undergraduate college studies. On occasion she does private recitals, and she has a passion for Stephen Sondheim.
“I’m still a very serious musician,” she says.
At the same time, though, she has specialized in employment and labor law as an attorney and as a human resources director for more than 25 years. FineLine, her firm, offers access to two experienced employment lawyers and an extensive portfolio of training services.
“We are an outside consulting firm, not an outsourced human resources company,” Freeman says. “We don’t take over somebody’s HR department. Some companies that we deal with are small and don’t have a dedicated HR department. Some are global that have very specific needs.”
FineLine strives to individualize its consulting packages for each client. The company has a dedicated core staff and has the flexibility to bring in experienced specialists as needed.
The primary focus of FineLine is training. That training can take place live in a room, led by an instructor, or it can take place online and be interactive. Back when the company’s name was HROI, it began producing video training in 2001. FineLine’s current state-of-the-art online learning library is in partnership with NexLearn.
“We just updated our e-training courses,” Freeman notes.
Among the offerings is the firm’s course called “Alphabet Soup and Other Legal Issues Managers and Supervisors Must Know.” Designed as a comprehensive course about employment-related laws and agencies, it can be purchased with pre-set bundles of topics, or drilled down to specific choices of the client.
With larger companies in particular, flexible scheduling can make online training the most efficient way to learn. Two programs dealing with anti-harassment issues, one designed for managers and one for employees, are among those featured.
During the course of her career, Freeman has witnessed an evolution of human resources departments in the business world. They have made a transition from primarily having recordkeeping functions to becoming a proactive part of companies, often at the top executive levels.
“If companies truly believe that people are their most important resource, then that is the direction they will go,” she says.
She applauds the Mid-America Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce for outstanding efforts in diversity and mentorship. Freeman’s wife, Kimberly Jones, is on the MAGLCC board of directors.
Fine Line has clients throughout the country, but most of them have a Kansas City connection. Freeman is quite enamored with her city.
“We are a hidden gem. The arts and culture here are simply breathtaking! We are so fortunate,” she says.
Spoken like a true musician. And that office sonata we dreamed of? She could have made that wish come true not long ago, when there still was a piano in the room, but she recently donated it to a worthy local organization. We’ll have to go back to the view.