Lower Seeds !!

This weekend one of my favorite events began – the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament. I’ve always enjoyed watching all of the games because I played basketball all through high school and even had a few offers to play at the collegiate level. So, when the tournament comes on, I’m hooked. I make sure to fill out brackets and love that people get excited to participate as well.

I don’t usually have connections with the teams who participate, but that doesn’t lessen the interest. This year, however, my alma mater Ohio University, made the tournament !! This isn’t new. They have been to the tournament several times and have done well. However, it’s a smaller university so they will rarely have the opportunity to come in as one of the higher (favored) seeds. That’s okay with me though. Getting to participate is the first hurdle in this tournament.

This Saturday, they were the #13 seed and they played the #4 seed the University of Virginia who also was the team that won the last National Championship. The odds were not in our favor. That was amplified by listening to the announcers who rarely talked positively about Ohio’s efforts. It was more about what Virginia wasn’t doing. This isn’t different in other games either. I’m sure the network tells the announcers to talk up the higher seeds because they are typically bigger schools, larger brand names and . . . potential revenue because more people will watch teams they know vs. a bunch of underdogs.

Photo by Midge Mazur @midgemazur on Twitter – from Ohio University Twitter page @ohiou

I’m geeked to say that OU beat Virginia and I was screaming and jumping up and down as if I was in person. As the game was coming to a close, the announcers were forced to acknowledge that the lower seed had won. It gave me great joy both as an alum and because I LOVE seeing the lower seeds win !! It’s a great facet of the NCAA tournament because any team can win and advance. The big-name programs do win more often than not, but it’s not a guarantee.

I find that we give far too much attention to the big names and brands when it comes to the world of work as well. When giant, global conglomerates make a move, it gets national press online immediately. If a smaller company made the same moves, just on a smaller scale, you wouldn’t even know it. We are enamored with those that are biggest, most visible and generate the most revenue. That’s ironic to me because the vast majority of people work for companies that would be considered “lower seeds.”

You see, I think talent exists in all companies. The brand name and notoriety of an organization is admirable, but it shouldn’t infer that they have better internal talent. I’m sure they are full of talented people as well as those that can grow with development . . . Just like every other company !! We shouldn’t get enamored and blinded by size alone.

I don’t think there’s a singular answer or approach that works to address this lack of exposure and participation. We can’t help but focus on the Fortune “x” companies because of their scale and resources. It’s true they may have more leverage to move the needle in some areas, but it’s not an accurate assessment that they influence the majority of work. Great work is happening everywhere.

What would our profession look like if we made sure to listen to HR voices from all types of industry and from companies of various sizes? How much more would we influence, shape, and transform our own organizations if we took a look at the whole field instead of just the top seeds? What if senior HR pros from small, midsize, and large companies filled Board seats and were able to participate in larger arenas?

Let me encourage you if you work in HR for a “lower seed.” I have for the majority of my career and it’s been amazing. It’s outstanding if your efforts move your company forward because that should be your goal on a regular basis. You can also make an impact on the profession as a whole. It can happen locally, nationally and globally. Go into each game with confidence. You’re in the tournament for a reason. Go out, play hard and see what happens !!

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