Today’s guest is Steve Browne, the Vice President of Human Resources at LaRosa’s, Inc. and a Board Member at the Society for Human Resource Management. Steve, simply put, loves people, and it’s that love that propels his innovative thinking in the HR field. Steve wants to put the ‘human’ back in human resources, which is increasingly important when corporations want culture but have no idea how to put people first.
The shift to a people-centric work culture
Work culture used to be more about processes and systems; asking how someone was doing was seen as a waste of time. That is, until companies realized that if they weren’t being people-centric, they were missing out. This new generation of employees now wants to work in a culture where they are valued, elevated, and challenged.
This is both a challenge and opportunity, because having genuine relationships where people feel they are acknowledged, recognized, and valued consistently and on purpose makes for a better company.
The “report card” mentality
Performance management has also changed over the last few years. Steve observes that the report card mentality is failing because it’s not motivating: it shifts the focus toward what a person isn’t doing. Instead, as leaders, we should be saying: if you’re worth my time, and you’re a good member of my team, part of my performance should be equipping you to do better.
We should be investing in the whole person: lifting their strengths, making them aware of where they have gaps, and exploring how to address those gaps. It’s not a matter of trying to make people fit the norm within your company; it’s allowing them to express themselves within the parameters and letting them bring who they are. When they do, they’ll bring their best selves to the table.
Drawing out authenticity in your company
How do you begin to allow people to bring their whole selves to your organization? Steve shares a few tips. First, ask how far you’re willing to go and what makes sense for your company. Then, change and test just one small thing at a time, so you can see what’s working and what isn’t, and give yourself permission to say something didn’t work.
You can’t teach people to be people centric simply by writing another policy. You have to do it by slowly coaching them on behavior, in a manner that’s more conversational than dictatorial.
Listening and leadership
When Steve started in HR, his boss gave him this advice: listen. For the first 90 days, he was only supposed to listen to people. No offering advice, no brainstorming ideas, no coming up with programs. Just learning.
Steve considers the best professional advice he’s ever gotten, because through this he was able to see how amazing the people were and what was already working well in the company. He didn’t have to come in and destroy anything. Instead, he was able to take things and shift them. He says: “From a leadership perspective, I think you have to make yourself available, be adaptable, and be agile.”
Camaraderie is key
It’s important for industry professionals in any department to get together and exchange great stories and great practices. It allows you to stay relevant and also gather diverse perspectives, which is necessary in organizations to avoid “group think” or “this is the way we’ve always done it” mentality.
We need to treat people like people. We can. It’s allowed. It’s legal. People are aching for it. It’s something we should all do.
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Resources for Steve Browne
Other podcasts referenced in this episode:
Episode 5 with Jennifer McClure | From Talent Recruitment to Founder and CEO