HR Books Review: ‘HR on Purpose’

There’s only one HR book on the market that speaks to human resources practitioners, and it’s “HR on Purpose: Developing Deliberate People Passion” by Steve Browne.

If you haven’t read it, stop what you’re doing and get your hands on a copy. Steve Browne is the executive director of HR at the pizza brand LaRosa’s, Inc., and sits on the board of SHRM. In this book, he takes the reader through his career journey and shares practical lessons about business, leadership and HR.

Steve Browne Gives a Good Interview !!

I’m lucky to call Steve a friend. We sat down for an interview in Cincinnati and talked about books, passion and meaning in the workplace.

Did you ever think you’d write a book? What surprised you most about writing a book?

Sort of! I was talking to my mom, and she remembers that I told her when I was young that I would write a book. I’ve been writing in some form or fashion for most of my life. I would come up with journals full of poetry and stories.

Did I think I’d write a book about HR? No. However, I have been encouraged by many peers who have read my blog or have seen me speak at HR events to gather my thoughts into a book. After many hints, I sat down and typed. I’m glad I did.

The most surprising aspect of writing a book was the courage to have a spine. When I wrote “HR on Purpose,” I had nine chapters and nearly 10,000 words. I thought I was done. When I talked to my publisher, they said, “Great start.” I was confused. They explained that the books that are remembered are thick enough to have a spine so that people can see the title when the book sits on a shelf. Then they told me I needed 30,000 words minimum. I was floored, and it seemed insurmountable, but it was great advice and put a goal out there for me to reach.

Who is your audience? Who would enjoy reading your book?

My audience is two-fold. First, people who work in HR. Also, people who work with people. I know that encompasses everyone, but I think the book speaks to the importance of the human factor in our workplaces. It has a relationship component that applies to all interpersonal interactions. If people enjoy stories, they’ll enjoy reading the book. It’s a mix of concepts and practices wrapped in real-world stories.

Why is reading important for business leaders and HR professionals? What do you tell people who don’t have the time to read?

Reading is not just “important,” it’s critical. If you’re not a reader, you can’t be an effective leader. Reading not only keeps you mentally sharp, but it also keeps you current and up-to-date. Reading doesn’t have to be business-oriented, either. In fact, I would encourage people to be readers of books in their industry, blogs of all types and material that piques personal interests.

I tell those who say they lack time to read that they’re mistaken. We all have time on our hands. The reality is how we choose to use our time. We make time for things that are important to us. I would like to see reading become a priority for people. They’ll make the time to enjoy it if they put it in their daily mix of activities.

What books do you recommend to HR professionals? What kinds of books do you enjoy in your personal life?

I would encourage HR pros to choose books that stretch. Books that make you consider different approaches and ways of thought tend to keep you curious. Curiosity leads to inquiry and experimentation. It keeps HR fresh.

I have three to four books going at the same time. I enjoy having a few business/HR books in my queue along with a biography (historical figures and rock ‘n’ roll musicians). I also rotate in some fantasy and science fiction books. Having all of them going fits how I think and see the world. It seems scattered to most, but it works for me.

What gets in the way of reading?

Two things get in the way. The first is life in general. I have a very full and active life with a variety of activities ranging from family time to social gatherings to art to music to church. Reading “fits” in but may get pushed out in different seasons.

The second is inertia. I get so stuck in being comfortable binging the next series on Netflix that I neglect reading. When I’m more intentional about reading, I get the voracious bug again and start reading everything.

Do you think everybody has a story to tell?

I do. The fact that we are living and have adventures means we have a story. That story creates new twists and turns every day. I’m not sure if everybody should write a book, but I think they should share their stories. I thoroughly enjoy humans. I want to hear about who they are, what they value and how they see life. When we take the time to give people our time, then we hear glorious stories.

What’s your next book?

I want to come up with a book that truly unifies HR both as a profession and as a global community. I feel that we take the various roles that people hold and split them into levels and very narrow perspectives. I disagree with this categorization because it limits who people are and how HR is practiced.

I feel there’s a continuum of HR that ranges from when people enter the field until they reach senior roles. There’s no one point on the continuum that is better or brighter than another. I want to write a book where people see themselves succeed and thrive in HR. It’s not a sequel to what I’ve written. It’s a much broader and far-reaching idea. I’m geeked to see if I can get it from my head to paper!

Connect with Steve Browne

Check out Steve’s blog Everyday People and make sure you sign up for The HR Net, a newsletter dedicated to what’s happening in the world of human resources. You can follow Steve on Twitter and LinkedIn, too.

And don’t forget to grab his book while it’s still in stock!

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