Excellence in HR Awards Honorees: Eric Magnussen
Meet Eric Magnussen, CHRO at Great Expressions Dental Centers
Magnussen is CHRO at Great Expressions Dental Centers, a national network of 250 dental offices that employs 2,500 Team Members. Eric brings over 20 years of healthcare experience specializing in HR transformation—creating distinctive cultures that attract and retain top talent and unleashing human potential to deliver business results.
Favorite Quote: “What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value.” — Thomas Paine
Fun Fact: I hiked the Grand Canyon from the rim to the Colorado River and back again in one day…it’s not recommended!
How do you unwind after a long day of work? I enjoy spending time with my wife and our two sons. We love family movie night and watching action and adventure flicks.
What challenges have you faced in your career, and how did you overcome them? Challenge is ever-present in business. Whether it is leading a corporate office relocation from Chicago to Boca Raton, selecting and on-boarding the team to support a hospital grand opening or planning a painful workforce reduction, the key to success is surrounding yourself with great people who genuinely care about one another and the company’s mission. Great teams achieve remarkable results.
What has been the most monumental moment of your career thus far? I joined Great Expressions in July 2020 after 19 years with my former employer. The change has been a wonderful mash-up of building new relationships, learning a new industry and defining a new people strategy—all in the midst of navigating a global pandemic. It’s been great fun thus far.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten? Hire hard and manage easy. My mentor, Steve Bonner, who served as President & CEO of Cancer Treatment Centers of America shared that advice with me early in my career. It’s critical to select great people who complement your blind-spots and who bring different perspectives and experiences to bear.
What qualities make for an outstanding HR professional? Empathy, Compassion, Servant Leadership, Creativity, Resourcefulness and Not Taking Yourself Too Seriously.
How have you adapted your HR skills to COVID? The pandemic is a great example of VUCA—Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. Legacy systems, processes, mindsets and behaviors are challenged because, in many cases, they were designed to support working in a rigid, black-and-white world. Covid has shown us that organizations must adopt a more flexible approach that can “bend but not break” under pressure. In HR, we can support those efforts by re-thinking our approaches to virtual/remote work, work schedules and hours, time off plan designs and teaching people how to work together to navigate adaptive challenges that require teams to harness their collective intelligence to diagnose viscous cycles and their underlying root causes.
What are some misconceptions about HR and how do you combat them? To the uninitiated, HR is synonymous with bureaucracy—filling out forms, managing policies and counseling bad actors. While some of this is true, strategic HR is all about aligning people and their talents to accelerate the execution of the business strategy and ultimately, to deliver results. My approach is to become a student of the business by understanding how the business operates, learning about its customers and their needs and identifying gaps that that, if filled, will improve performance.
What do you like most about working in HR? I enjoy helping people thrive. We invest a significant part of our lives “at work” so it is an honor to work with people to build a workplace where people feel a deep sense of pride about the company and the related contributions they make to help it succeed.