Tuesday in the Trenches: Integrate vs. Adminstrate

This week’s Tuesday in the Trenches guest post is from Steve Browne, Executive Director of Human Resources for LaRosa’s Pizzeria. In business for over 50 years, LaRosa’s has grown to 63 locations in the Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana region.  Steve has the daunting task of building and maintaining an environment and career experience that keeps LaRosa’s employees engaged in this highly competitive multi-location business.  Steve is also the editor-in-chief for a weekly HR Email, HR Net, that has 5,500 global subscribers.  If you want to join the distribution, let him know. You can follow Steve on Twitter or catch his guest blog posts which crop up from time to time (e.g. a recent post on Rehaul). 

Recently Charlie asked for posts from the “HR Trench” and this intrigued me.  There are literally thousands of HR people who may take this term literally everyday unfortunately.  I know too many HR folks who are miserable in what they do as a profession.

In looking at this, I had to ask myself the question – “Why are they miserable and I’m not ??”

The answer was pretty clear only because of how I have been encouraged and “allowed” to perform at my Company.  About a year ago, my boss, the COO, asked me to draw a picture of what HR should be at our company.  I honestly was a little baffled because he literally wanted a picture of what I’d like HR to be.  After some deep reflection, and many cups of coffee, I came up with a picture and went back to present it to him.

I followed the “before and after” model that you see in those weight loss commercials because I wanted to express how HR was being utilized now and what it should be.  The “before” model showed every department as silos – including HR.  HR was only used if, and when, people needed it primarily for administrative tasks or employee relations problems that were now teetering on legal action.  In contrast, the “after” model took HR and spread it in a row that spanned all of the departments.  I explained that HR should be integrated throughout all departments and levels of the company because all of them have humans !!

Seems simple, but it worked.  He agreed that HR should be integrated vs. administrative.  Strategic on a regular basis vs. processing paperwork.

This frees me every day knowing that HR is expected to be integrated to move the Company forward.  I wish HR professionals everywhere would follow an “integrated” approach !!  If they did, they would see that the “trench” that we’re in is actually very cool and exciting !!

5 Responses to Tuesday in the Trenches: Integrate vs. Adminstrate
  1. Benjamin McCall
    February 9, 2010 | 8:46 am

    This is great. The main reason why you are so successful is because the leadership allows you to be, in the way they give you the autonomy to do so. But Steve you are also a person that will do this regardless!
    Great Looking for more (do I see blog in your future?)

    Twitter: @BenjaminMcCall
    Website: http://ReThinkHR.org
    & LinkedIn

  2. Steve Boese
    February 9, 2010 | 10:04 am

    Good post Steve, and a really great idea from Charlie to bring these ‘trench’ stories to the forefront. I think practical and real advice and case studies of HR professionals furthering the practice and helping their organizations succeed only serve to help all of us interested in the field.

  3. Jennifer McClure
    February 9, 2010 | 2:08 pm

    HR needs to hear more from people who are actually “working in the trenches” (great idea Charlie) and it’s great to see Steve sharing his experience here. It’s also great that his boss asked him what his vision was and allowed him to implement it. I wonder how many HR professionals out there who haven’t been officially asked could actually do the same thing if they took the initiative to approach their boss with a vision on how HR can be integrated/strategic versus administrative. Here’s hoping that a few more will after reading this post!

  4. Robin S
    February 9, 2010 | 2:19 pm

    Steve – I so agree! When our organizations realize that HR must/should/can be embedded within other business functions we all succeed. Our managers and employees benefit by having us as their partners, our organizations benefit from our “people-focus” vision, and we as HR professionals benefit because we can more closely see the immediate results of our efforts to make our orgs grow and succeed. Great post Steve! And thanks to Charlie for the trench-talk series!

  5. Charlie Judy
    February 10, 2010 | 10:32 am

    Thanks, Benjamin, Steve, Jennifer and Robin for your comments and support. I think the greatest thing about Steve’s post is that it appears as if he’s gotten management not only to believe in integration, but to “expect” it. That’s real impact. I hope we can get more of the “Trench” perspective into the blogosphere. If you have any HR colleagues that would like to contribute, please have them contact me. Thanks again!

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