EP 72: Bringing Purpose and Passion Into Our Organizations with Steve Browne

Bringing Purpose and Passion Into Our Organizations

Every single person is created perfectly the way that they are. However, not every single person is created perfectly for every job or organization. That is why it is essential to ensure your staff are in the right roles where they will feel passionate about what they are doing and thrive every step of the way. To help us discuss this topic more in depth and share his knowledge about bringing passion and purpose into the workplace is Steve Browne.

What You’ll Learn In Today’s Episode

  • How to bring more personal connections into your team. (3:25)
  • How to create a meaningful pathway for your staff in your organization. (6:30)
  • The importance of knowing your employee’s strengths and weaknesses. (10:00)

Actionable Takeaway for HR Professionals

  • Quit being in the shadows. (26:00)

Actionable Takeaway for Executives

  • Lead from a people-first stance. (25:10)

Ideas Worth Sharing

“People are passionate, it’s just about if they will show it or not.” - Steve Browne Click To Tweet

Resources In Today’s Episode

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Click Here for Audio Transcript

Traci Scherck: Welcome to talent optimization my name is Tracy sherck and today we are talking about how we not only care for ourselves, but how we really care for and about the people inside of our organizations and.

Traci Scherck: Do I have the probably one of the best people with us to chat about how HR rises and how we bring purpose into what we’re doing an HR and so with me today is Steve round and so Steve welcome to our show.

Steve Browne: Hi Traci it’s great to be here.

Traci Scherck: You too, and so you know Steve you posted something on linkedin this week called one note and kind of your love for POPs symphony etc, and how it only takes one note to have an incredible impact do you want to tell us a little bit more about it, because you can say it better than I can.

Steve Browne: I think people are passionate it’s just a.

Steve Browne: Will they show it or not, we think it takes so much effort and big moves and giant shifts when honestly it’s one thing.

Steve Browne: If you can unlock that one thing that piece that I heard in the POPs one note just started to swell from the violins and I wept.

Steve Browne: Like oh my gosh such beautiful things I think of the people that we work with we get her up and all the junk outside instead of trying to find that one thing they can walk through they are in the talented person, they are there for them to do well and perform.

Traci Scherck: Absolutely, because every single one of us is create a perfectly the way we are, yes, we are not created perfectly for every job we are not create a perfectly for every organization.

Steve Browne: very true very, very true.

Traci Scherck: So how have you gone about finding that one thing for yourself and then for others.

Steve Browne: Well, interestingly, the one thing for me is to unlock it in others and i’ll give you a great example in our pizzerias.

Steve Browne: People come from all kinds of backgrounds and people can start working with us when they’re 16.

Steve Browne: So i’ll go into the pizzeria and walk back to the cook line I skip the managers I go to the cooks.

Steve Browne: I know something about them, and so I found out at one of our stores, a person was studying a voluntary degree so they’re cooking.

Steve Browne: In studying culinary things so I said hey when I come back and we’ll talk more about what you’ve learned we’re calling any perspective.

Steve Browne: Their way well sure that manager said I didn’t know they were going to school by car, but now that you do why don’t you ask them how school is going I don’t have to be the only person so it’s equipping others on how to unlock this and others.

Steve Browne: makes it much richer and people appreciate their people more than they do so for me that fills my bucket like you wouldn’t believe so, I spend most of my day talking.

Steve Browne: yeah yeah it’s a good day.

Traci Scherck: Absolutely absolutely So what is being kind of the secret sauce outlet Joe says, of how you’ve been able to do that and really have your managers step into that as well, when they didn’t realize that that was something that could unlock it for them.

Steve Browne: I think two things one I had an incredible boss Kevin and I said had only because he passed away in December of 2020 but he kind of opened the door and said.

Steve Browne: I mean, how to do this, show us how to do something different be yourself and he’s he was like that, with everybody, not just me.

Steve Browne: So he would give you a lot more latitude as a leader to say here’s your out of bounds and i’ll just understand when you go out of bounds we’re talking.

Steve Browne: But if I don’t go out of bounds, go crazy and it was a really broad set of parameters not defined agreed upon by person based on who they are, and what they do and what their scope is and all these other factors.

Steve Browne: And what he did, that I went from going to the pizzeria and everyone going shh here comes HR to like hey steve’s here what’s going on, so when we cross over that and it became more of that personal connection, then things opened up all over.

Traci Scherck: yeah absolutely and what’s so interesting about, that is when we give individuals more ownership so often, it takes that overwhelm off of us because we’re giving them the ability to do it, the way that it works for them.

Traci Scherck: And it doesn’t have to work for us, as long as we’re clear on what those outcomes are.

Steve Browne: absolutely agree.

Traci Scherck: And you know what’s so interesting is when we’re chatting with new managers about this so often it’s like oh no it’s, we have to have very specific and we have to follow it and i’m going.

Traci Scherck: How much pressure and stresses that actually putting on you right.

Steve Browne: Right, I give you a great example I love what you’re saying and how you’re approaching it.

Steve Browne: I asked people what they’re focusing on that day, instead of saying what are you doing today.

Steve Browne: Right, because the answer is i’m busy.

Steve Browne: Well that’s good it’s just that you’re busy I got it, but if I say what are you focusing on and they said oh gosh you know we got to make sure the Friers are clean i’m like.

Steve Browne: Okay, you need to be the one doing that or can I have Tracy do that, so I can have you focus on other good things, this has value I get it and Friers don’t talk.

Traci Scherck: Right.

Steve Browne: I need you, I need you over here with people, and how can I get you there, so instead of focusing on what people are doing assessing where they are to where their focus and then help them shift if they need.

Traci Scherck: Absolutely, you know, and you said something really amazing at the beginning of the conversation, and that was we hire 16 year olds.

Traci Scherck: And you know with hiring 16 year olds what I know from you know what I know about you Steve is that you have a way of creating a pathway through the Organization for those 16 year olds so that work is meaningful do you want to share a little bit about that, and how that has worked.

Steve Browne: We are the first company that truly that i’ve worked for that promotes from within our CEO former CEO was a dishwasher.

Steve Browne: yeah and our current CEO has the name on the building, but he also started sweeping parking lots so.

Steve Browne: We see the talent in people and move them ahead, but in order to do that, you have to know your people really know them.

Steve Browne: So we’ve kind of put this into our culture and we have the path that if you want to be here for decades, you can be if you want to be here for a year, you can be if you want to be here for five years in three days you can be.

Steve Browne: there’s two different things there’s the do well with where you’re at and kill it and then grow if you want to, and we want you to there’s a difference, sometimes grow, I want to grow, you know gosh we know.

Steve Browne: How to say no, Sir, I want to grow and we go now we want you to grow, so we look at growth and retention differently and allowing that means.

Steve Browne: We grow you wide and deep, knowing that you move up we don’t move up first think they’re not ready, but they’re wide and deep.

Steve Browne: You can’t help it they you’ll see people rise and then people will you to choose to stay at the company, instead of trying to or go in a straight path, very few of our people going straight path.

Steve Browne: right they bounce all over.

Traci Scherck: Absolutely absolutely because there there’s that institutional knowledge, but you know what there’s a true skill set of being a dishwasher or something that you learn my.

Traci Scherck: 16 year old son just did a dishwashing job and he’s like mom it was the worst job I ever had I said okay cute, but what did you learn and he’s like.

Traci Scherck: mom I learned how hard it actually is, and I learned that i’m the last person they’re the one being paid the least but yet.

Traci Scherck: I have one of the most important jobs, because nobody wants, you know their dishes when they come back dirty and and what i’m doing is making it so everyone else can do their job well and that was actually fulfilling it’s a great he’s like but i’m done that’s Okay, you had the experience.

Steve Browne: that’s right he learned that’s.

Traci Scherck: Exactly exactly and sometimes that’s the only outcome we need for them and for us.

Steve Browne: Absolutely.

Traci Scherck: You know so something interesting you talked about as they want to grow, or we want them to grow, you know, one of the big conversations that we’ve been having and i’ve been hearing us the HR chatter lately.

Traci Scherck: Is been this kind of distinction between you know, a talent pathway that’s a leadership talent pathway, and I tell them pathway that’s a specialist tail and pathway that you can become the best.

Traci Scherck: we’re playing with dishwashers right now the best dishwasher that everybody goes to that you never want to manage people So how do you handle that.

Steve Browne: I think there’s a couple of things to look at.

Steve Browne: know people strength in generally assess them.

Steve Browne: yeah so if someone has more people oriented strengths, because if you’re a leader at law roses, you have to be people oriented it’s not just I want to be an x.

Steve Browne: Because you can do that, but you’re going to have dead bodies everywhere.

Steve Browne: We have a great example Nancy does our menu analysis, it is a job wow I mean so if Tracy has an allergy, we know how to answer it if the price of cheeses this, this is what it costs she’s an amazing specialist.

Steve Browne: And she’s so good at that she doesn’t have to manage others, but she manages an area business, which has value.

Traci Scherck: yeah.

Steve Browne: You can still do well be compensated well get bonuses all that kind of stuff but not be responsible for people there are other people that are great.

Steve Browne: People leaders, but may not be as in depth specialists they’re good at broad pictures, the people that can really think and act strategically on a regular basis that’s what I want in charge of people.

Steve Browne: And so we try and distinguishing that we’re small enough that we know our people well enough do that on an ongoing basis, the other factor from an HR thing is to make sure that someone is an overlap.

Steve Browne: And someone isn’t discriminated against someone there’s equity all those good HR things, but instead of making them program there are factoring consideration all.

Traci Scherck: Absolutely absolutely and that’s that really strong foundation and when you’ve got that foundation that’s really strong, you can do all the other things, on top of it because you’ve got a great base that you can fall back on.

Steve Browne: Absolutely and.

Traci Scherck: You know, so one of the things that we’ve kind of heard and talked a lot about over the last two years, is how the world has changed, you know this, you can’t find workers which.

Traci Scherck: I don’t believe is true, I believe, workers are up there, we just have to tap them on the shoulder and know exactly who we’re looking for, but with That being said, how have you been able to find.

Traci Scherck: Your best sources of individuals coming in, and then the growing with with it with within which, if you’re growing with it in and keeping your folks you don’t have to recruit as much either.

Steve Browne: True, I think it’s we want to give you all the information you need to know who we are, what you’ll do and how you can contribute.

Steve Browne: And then choose so if one of your factors don’t fall into one of those three things don’t work for another place we’d hate to lose you, but if that’s what you want to do great.

Steve Browne: What we found, though, is we’re hiring better because we know those three things will tell you up front, when you work here, this is what it’s like this is the environment.

Steve Browne: here’s the culture here’s the managers here’s the job expectations here’s the highs here’s the lows here’s the comp here’s the benefits but we’re going to talk about all this other stuff before we even think about these up and benefits those are givens.

Steve Browne: hey as our expectations and they go well it’s really like that I want to be a part of that, when someone self chooses to work for us, we get them.

Steve Browne: And we hold on to them for quite a bit.

Steve Browne: If someone takes us because it’s an opportunity, and they kind of buy in there’ll be here for a short period of time and we’re Okay, with the big shift, we had to do, though, Tracy wise.

Steve Browne: i’ve been here 15 years and I still have some of the least seniority in the company.

Steve Browne: So.

Steve Browne: it’s it’s a challenge, so you have to say in the new workforce in the new landscape that we have, how can I make it amazing for the time that you’re here.

Steve Browne: yeah if it’s three months let’s kill it for three if it’s a year and a half let’s make it amazing for the year and a half and then with grace allow them to do their next thing.

Steve Browne: Right That way we get people to stick a lot more than expecting them to be here 15 years 20 years because those days are long.

Traci Scherck: Right, but when you can create I lovingly call it happy alumni that look back on Laura says and say you know what that was one of the best experiences because xyz and I learned and they were transparent.

Traci Scherck: You get the boomerang owners, that will come back, maybe after they finished the next event or maybe the grass isn’t greener, on the other side right.

Steve Browne: yeah we’ve had boomerang that TEAM members and they’re wonderful and they’ve told us why and we’re really good with it.

Steve Browne: But we also have generational hiring which I don’t i’ve never been in a company like this, so.

Steve Browne: I work here in my son works here, then my daughter works here, and then they grow up and then their children work here it’s phenomenal what the core people that have been part of with a part of us over the years it doesn’t go away it’s a huge factor.

Traci Scherck: And that’s amazing and especially when you have.

Traci Scherck: The reputation out in the Community of this is a great place to work and you’re kind of shadowing that and the kids are talking about it because they’re excited about what mom and dad are doing, and that means mom and dad are talking positively about work at home as well.


Traci Scherck: yeah absolutely so I just yesterday I did a.

Traci Scherck: Speaking engagement to an HR Community assurance chapter and there were 65 folks in the room.

Traci Scherck: And one of the things that I asked them is what are your must haves you’re like to have in your dream to have for the culture that you want to be in it could be contra could be what you would dream that that organizational culture looks like.

Traci Scherck: You know, and the answers were really, really interesting from you know, we must have really good transparent communication.

Traci Scherck: To you know what I would dream to have a culture where we can bring dogs to work.

Traci Scherck: Or you know that’s not going to work at la roses oh says right, however.

Traci Scherck: um you know, but you know what I would dream to have an organization, where we have employee resource groups, and we can really get to know each other and have that ability for really strong collaboration.

Traci Scherck: And i’m curious what would that like must have liked to have dreamed to have, or what is that for for a la roses and what do you see within that for HR community.

Steve Browne: that’s a really great question.

Traci Scherck: And it was loaded sorry I didn’t mean it.

Steve Browne: Okay that’s Okay, I think I think are must haves.


Steve Browne: If you, you need to be relationship based yeah if you’re not relationship based you’re not going to do well here, so you might be very talented very skilled.

Steve Browne: But if you can’t hang with the people side, I mean it’s in your bones here it’s crazy I tell people when they’re new I think now listen when you say I live over here.

Steve Browne: they’re going to ask you a million zillion questions, not to be intrusive they just want to know you if that bothers you it’s gonna be hard so I must have is if you’re not genuinely relationship based you’re going to struggle.

Steve Browne: The wish to have is that people would be a little more graceful under pressure.

Steve Browne: We tend to elevate everything to a pressure situation when it’s not always the case, but it’s a pressure situation for us, so therefore I believed on other people.

Steve Browne: Use the four agreements here, and one of the things is don’t take it personally don’t think these personally well that’s just near impossible, but behind that.

Steve Browne: you’re talking about yesterday at our executive meeting it’s everybody has a personal hell don’t bring them into yours anyway Oh, I like that a lot.

Steve Browne: As we tend to get sucked in like Oh, this is happening and tracy’s house with her son.

Steve Browne: show grace listen to her understand showing empathy but it doesn’t mean we have to get swallowed by it in when pressure happens, we tend not to be as graceful as we always could be we’re pretty good i’d love to see it improve and the dream to have is this.

Steve Browne: I would love to see us in HR professionals specifically have the same ability that i’ve been fortunate.

Steve Browne: I work throughout the business, I have no questions No one says Why is he here, or what it’s more why isn’t he involved, we need him there, and my team now just me so.

Steve Browne: I think HR people have to quit being in the shadows thinking that’s where they have to live because that’s how they treated or how they view it, we have to say no, because there are humans, we are everywhere.

Steve Browne: yeah and it took some time to teach my team that they’re amazing yeah very, very talented people, but now that they do this other part feeling, this is awesome we go.

Traci Scherck: yeah that’s amazing you know, and one of those things and I love to get your kind of take on this, that that I found for working with HR folks and working with executives inside the business is so often there’s a disconnect between.

Traci Scherck: What the business outcomes are that HR beliefs, they are with the business outcomes are that the executive team believes that they are.

Traci Scherck: An until that conversation can like come together and.

Traci Scherck: Truly understand that, yes, we are on the same page we’re marching in the same direction that’s really hard to have happen, but when that conversation can start to get on the same page.

Traci Scherck: We are 100% in alignment with which the HR goals are because that people plans what’s needed in order for the business results to actually happen you’re not going to get business results without people.


Steve Browne: I think we frame it as with people you drive the results.

Traci Scherck: oh i like that.

Steve Browne: we’ve switched it around most companies, including ours, our results we use results to lead last year, we did this this year we’re doing this that’s a difference up X percent.

Steve Browne: And then in HR circles, we go Oh, we need to learn this well that’s simple man stop it is going to say since we’re seeing these results what’s driving that.

Steve Browne: So it’s more of an operational view of because I have this talent and they’re doing this, it should yield these results, but if it doesn’t what’s happening, instead of saying results first results results results, by definition, at the end.

Steve Browne: yeah absolutely.

Steve Browne: So I would rather see HR go I can help you drive results through your people thought.

Steve Browne: completely different.

Traci Scherck: Fantastic I love it I love it I love it, you know, and you mentioned something and your your wish to have list, which is you know really how when things are coming in, for your team.

Traci Scherck: And you know how how they interpret that so like the quit taking it personally and whatnot you know when you mentioned one of your.

Traci Scherck: Great mentors earlier, and one of my great mentors said to me, at one point she goes Tracy.

Traci Scherck: You know, one of the ways I look at this is, I almost have to have this bubble around me.

Traci Scherck: Where when somebody throws their crap at me it doesn’t stick to me because I have enough of my own kind of self worth and self confidence that I can just look at them and say.

Traci Scherck: Thank you for sharing that that’s your baggage if there’s a way I can help break, but I don’t have to take it with me.

Steve Browne: I love that absolutely agree.

Traci Scherck: And like, and all I could think was oh my gosh I like I don’t want to walk around in a bubble, but like that bubble analogy completely shifted my mindset into wow I don’t have to take everything that’s starting at me in HR and.

Traci Scherck: Because it’s their stuff and it does, even though they’re putting it on my desk I don’t have to take it on my desk.

Steve Browne: that’s right and it’s impossible to carry it off as much as you think you can, the more you do that, you just start diminishing what you can do for good, it will swallow you there’s just no doubt about it.

Traci Scherck: Absolutely and I think in a way that leads us to you know maze mental health awareness month we’re talking about you know HR self care and some of those things in some of that is you know separating what it is, you can control and what it is you can’t.

Steve Browne: It is, I think, on top of them doing things like this connecting with your peers having somebody who you can go to one of the things we have in our company is where can I dump my bucket so.

Steve Browne: If I come to you and we have that good relationship I go Tracy and just going to dump my bucket if it’s about us.

Steve Browne: Not as good, but even in that if it’s safe and you just go I can talk to Tracy and it’s good.

Steve Browne: Internally, as HR people it’s almost impossible because of what we do with the confidentiality, we have it shouldn’t be all this exaggerated situational happenings you need to have someone who’s in your corner.

Steve Browne: You have to go boy when I is reciprocal boy I reach out to you and just have five minutes that release.

Steve Browne: is not done, nearly enough, and when it’s not really healthy with your peers it comes out somewhere else that comes out, you know unhealthy way.

Steve Browne: So.

Steve Browne: I am not a we shouldn’t be HR martyrs, where we just die on the sword, we should have peers that lift us up.

Traci Scherck: yeah absolutely you know and that’s so interesting because that is actually one of the reasons why.

Traci Scherck: Within our organization, I went to got my coach certification and I actually coach groups of HR professionals, because.

Traci Scherck: You, especially when you’re in a smaller company and you’re a one person HR team you don’t have anyone, you can go and have those conversations with where it’s like hey how are you being in that situation where you’re either contributing to it, or you know you’re making it better.

Traci Scherck: But also dumping, the bucket I love that analogy and you’ve created a really amazing HR Community I see now our listeners can’t see what’s behind you, but I see your lava lamps and going behind you and you’ve created this amazing HR Community you want to share a little bit about that.

Steve Browne: i’ve wanted to be somebody who brings people together, not to focus on me, in fact, when it starts getting that way, I give it a little weird but I don’t think there have been enough people in our field to believe in others in what we do.

Steve Browne: I would have tried to be the person that says Tracy I believe in what you do and this is why, and I do it, I don’t believe in you, because it’s like it’s a rah rah cheerleader we do the same types of things and.

Steve Browne: If we have HR people who believe in each other genuine will believe in each other and goodness gracious you can do all kinds of stuff.

Steve Browne: That you never dreamt of doing and you’ll learn from people that can give you tools and I, he is in approaches and skills that you can’t gather on your own so.

Steve Browne: To give people forums to do that.

Steve Browne: Whether it’s on Twitter or on the HR net which I run, which you know goes out to 13,000 people and it just says.

Steve Browne: i’m going to put in your lap i’m not going to ask anymore i’m just going to put it right in front of you.

Steve Browne: Sharing the work of others lifting other things up look at this blog listen to this podcast someone has to be that connector in our profession, people are kind enough to let me do that.

Steve Browne: So, more often than not, it allows people to be dependable diverse talented people that they are still connect with them.

Traci Scherck: I love it so as we start to kind of close on our conversation today, what is the takeaway that you have for the executives that have listened to enjoy our conversation today.

Steve Browne: For executives i’d love for them to take a look at themselves and say how are we leading from a people first lens or are we leading from a people first lens.

Steve Browne: And then understand whatever HR talent, they have is ready and able and willing to help that come to life.

Steve Browne: It is more of a business prerogative than you think if you keep ignoring it it’s still happening, so I would love for executives to say, because I have people who drive results, what are we doing as an organization to be people first on.

Traci Scherck: awesome and then what’s your takeaway for our HR professionals listening in today.

Steve Browne: Well, something.

Steve Browne: Something that i’m working on now, and something i’m.

Steve Browne: going to try and push forward here before the end of the year is quit being in the shadows if if you keep hearing the term, I have to go to HR it tells you where you are in the organization.

Steve Browne: automatically.

Steve Browne: yeah instead of saying I go I worked with Steve I worked with Tracy I worked with all I work with a amad.

Steve Browne: With I work with those people and part of the organization or i’m integrated throughout the organization, we can’t keep paying the department that’s a go to, we have to be in the organization all the time, so I just wanted us to get out of the shadows and own that a lot more.

Traci Scherck: awesome Thank you so much, Steven if you’re interested in learning more about Steve, we will have his Twitter, along with.

Traci Scherck: HR know and large doses within the show notes, so that you can follow him and find out more of what he’s up to and how he’s working to get HR out of the shadows, so thank you so much for being with us next week and be sure to join us.

Traci Scherck: Or, thank you for being with us this week and be sure to join us next week, when we have Julie Dublin with us from UK G so with That being said, have a great rest of your week.