#SHRM22 Speaker Interview with Steve Browne…Grilled and Well Done!

One of the true pleasures of networking with others in real life or on social media, is when you have the opportunity meet some amazing people. We had the opportunity to have a fun conversation with one of those amazing people that we have both connected with, Steve Browne.

If you work in human resources, chances are that you have or will connect with Steve Browne, as he is literally everywhere! Steve is the author of two amazing books, “HR on Purpose!!” and “HR Rising!!” For his day job, Steve is the Chief People Officer with LaRosa’s, Inc. (a multi-state pizzeria chain in SW Ohio and SE Indiana). In addition, Steve has previously served as a SHRM Board Member and MAC Representative, is currently a SHRM Foundation Leadership Circle Member and SHRM 22 Influencer, is active on the speaking circuit, facilitates a monthly HR Roundtable in Cincinnati, OH, manages a weekly internet forum, HR Net that reaches tens of thousands of HR professionals globally, and has a nationally recognized HR blog, “Everyday People”.

Those of you attending the 2022 SHRM Annual Conference & Expo will be fortunate in that Steve will be presenting two sessions at the conference. We caught up with Steve to talk about #SHRM22 and a few other topics.

Jeff:  Steve, SHRM 22 is just a few weeks away.  You will be a MEGA session speaker and joining Tina Marie and I on the SHRM Influencers Team…but what are you most looking forward to at the SHRM Annual Conference?

Steve:  Humans.  Just to be in a sea of humans. Being a “slight” extrovert, I can’t help but just be around people.  AND I know people are waiting to be in person again. We were in person last year in Vegas.  It was a nice dipping your toes in the water situation.  I think people are more set and they understand that they can do things in a safe way.  They can’t wait to see each other. To see people run into the hall, and hug each other, is just the best thing ever! Even non huggers are like, “oh my gosh, I get to see you!”  To see HR peers, very little gets me more excited!!

The whole point is to get professional development and to come back and be a better HR professional where you are at.  I hope the sessions are fulfilling, I hope the speakers are challenging.

Tina Marie:  This year’s theme for the SHRM 22 Annual Conference is “Cause the Effect”. How can HR Pros at any level, find their voice to be able to #CausetheEffect in their organizations?

Steve:  I love the question; I think the first point is to know that there is a “cause and effect” whether you have activity or not.  We just talked about this in the Executive meeting.  The cost of inactivity is far higher than action.  So, for people to remain dormant, or on the sidelines, “I can’t do this because” or the voices in our heads stop us from moving forward…you are still “causing the effect”. It’s just not the effect you want.

It’s funny, I am glad you asked about levels.  We think we make a difference the higher we go in the organization.  I know people at the bottom of the organization, who are challenging as well as people on the top of the organization and in the middle. And usually, there are amazing people at all of those levels.  So, I hope that attendees understand the cause they are doing to prove they are humans, that should be their effect. How they do it, how they come about it, what processes they need to put in place, the innovations they need to put in place.  You have to understand, without being intentional, they are not having the best effect they could.  So, I would rather see them say, “I am going to do this, I am going to own this regardless of my role, and make things happen.”

Jeff: Well, I can speak from experience Steve from hearing you speak that you are a storyteller.  You share your experience, and you move us emotionally.  I can say every time I attend one of your sessions, you get me thinking about things that I would not have thought of before I can and listened to your session. I am sure those attending one of both of your sessions will walk away from it having a new perspective.

Steve:  I am long past the thing of telling attendees “what to do” in my sessions. I am much more about, “I’ll let you know some ideas, you apply them”. It amazes me that people just want a spoon-fed response, give me the silver bullet. give me the “three step program”.   I have never seen it work because it takes away the reality of diversity; different industries, company sizes, types and approaches. It just takes it completely away. I challenge attendees to quit being passive.  Come think, come and share!

Tina Marie: What was the best advice you received as a new HR leader that allowed you to build credibility with your leadership team?

Steve:  That’s interesting, when I was a young HR “newbie” I had exposure to the leadership team. My boss was the CFO, I worked with the VP of Operations, I met daily with the CEO. And it was Ken, Bud and Dick. We were not title people. So, the best advice I ever got, was the story I told in my first book “HR on Purpose!!”  The CEO Dick Morris said, “if you are not here for my people, I do not need you.  I was floored, I had worked for a Fortune 100 company prior to working for him, and this was the first time I had heard this.  This was long before employee engagement, people first and all the good stuff going on now.  He was an entrepreneur, he understood that without the people who were doing good work in the plants that he was over, our company didn’t exist.  It was very, very bottom shelf. 

What is funny is that we have gotten away from it as organizations, as a profession.  There will be tons of sessions at #SHRM22 where people may not even be brought up. You come to my sessions, you better understand it is about people, 100%.  Because that advice changed how I do my job, it changed how I could impact the company, and it changed how I could impact and improve the lives of people I work with.

Jeff:  Steve, you have a goal at each and every SHRM Annual Conference to meet EVERY SINGLE “in-person” attendee!!  Besides your two MEGA sessions, where will attendees find you at SHRM 22 in New Orleans?

Steve:  I will be everywhere!! You will see me in the halls, in the SHRM Store, hanging out with the #SHRM22Influencers I will be at social events.  My friend Fred (Eck) and I learned a long time ago. Fred taught me that when you come to SHRM Annual, this is how you conference. You open the conference; you close the conference.  You open the day early bird sessions, in the front row, cheering people on, learning from them.  And late at night when people are listening to Jazz in NOLA, you are the one that gets people home. Then you are up and ready at that next early morning session at 7:00 am.

I believe in taking in the conference fully, and when I say I want to meet “EVERYBODY”, it is because I want to meet everyone because it matters.  I want people to talk to each other in the SHRM store line, to turn around in a session and get to know each other.  The people there matter.  Your conference will much richer the more people you get to know!!

You can listen to the full interview with Steve Browne on the HR Sushi Bar Podcast and also see Steve live at the following #SHRM22 Mega Sessions:

•          HR Revealed!! - Transforming from Support Role to Strategic Leader

•          HR Rising!! - It's Okay to Be Human in HR!!

You can also follow Steve on Twitter, LinkedIn, and his blog Everyday People.

The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

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