Steve Browne

Executive Director of Human Resources, LaRosa’s, Inc.

Connecting with people comes naturally to Steve Browne, Executive Director of Human Resources for LaRosa’s, Inc., one of Greater Cincinnati’s iconic restaurant chains.

“I am one of those people who loves humans,” Browne says.  “I go out of my way to find people. I’m connecting with people constantly. It’s become part of who I am.”

In his new book, “HR on Purpose!!” (Society for Human Resource Management), Browne encourages today’s HR executives to take time to consider the various people interacting within their organizations, evaluating where true connections can occur. According to Browne, bringing people together not only gives leaders a broader perspective, but also helps workers see how they are all interdependent, fostering different perspectives that result in more holistic business solutions.

Unfortunately, in a field where people are supposed to be human-oriented, many are not, Browne says. While HR leaders can be exceptional in driving systems and strategy, they aren’t always people-driven. Becoming a people connector, he maintains, is a simple yet necessary step in elevating an organization’s human capital.

“I think too many people make HR hard.  Every organization is a people business, but we tend to treat them as systems businesses. Without our people, organizations don’t exist.”

A key characteristic Browne deems necessary? Approachability. “HR leaders need to ask themselves, not ‘Am I capable?’ but ‘Am I approachable? Can employees talk to me, or am I always putting out fires?’ Work is usually focused on fixing what’s wrong. I would rather employees feel comfortable coming to me to learn, to help them and to help them do their jobs.”

Browne is adamant about not pigeonholing employees as Millennials, Baby Boomers or Gen-Xers when talking about human capital during this time of transition in today’s workforce. There have always been multiple generations in the workplace.

“What horrifies me as a human resources professional is that we’ve taken an entire generation and labeled them when we say we believe in diversity. If we would focus on generational strengths instead of generational differences, we’d be better organizations.”

To that end, Browne implemented a Show, Do, Review management philosophy at LaRosa’s.

“Show me what to do, let me do it, and review it with me. That’s not bound by age.  So, what I don’t know, show, teach me, allow me to do it, and then help me to start over again. It’s an endless cycle.”

HR leaders would better champions of human capital if they gave employees parameters in which to perform rather than rules to follow, Browne says.

“Have better-defined roles for what people do and don’t do, what they are responsible for and not responsible for, what their scope and reach truly are.  HR typically wants do’s and don’ts. I just want do’s. How can I do my job? How can I perform well? When you allow parameters, people do a better job.”