The best part of the year is quickly approaching - March Madness, NCAA's Division 1 National Basketball Championship. In a few short weeks, your television screen will be filled with replays of student-athletes dunking the ball through the rim and interviews with head coaches describing the schematic adjustments needed to be made for the second half. These individuals, the players and head coaches, will get the majority of the credit for their team's wins (and the blame for their losses) but let's not forget about some of the most influential people in college basketball, the assistant coaches.
Much like today's HR professional, a successful assistant basketball coach is required to master a wide array of functional areas while also being flexible enough to adjust their role minute-by-minute. They motivate and discipline. They critique and assess. They coach.
Perhaps the most easily identifiable similarity in job responsibilities, the assistant coach and HR professional must be the stewards of talent for the team or organization. The countless hours spent sourcing, scouting, recruiting, and selling talent to join the program are matched only by the number of hours spent developing that same talent once they accept the offer. As the liaison between head coach (CEO) and players (staff), the assistant coach (HR) breaks down the overall team strategy into a digestible plan and then works develop individual and team skills within the established framework. All of these duties are done without a promise of glory and are very rarely recognized with a business leadership profile in Forbes or a spot on ESPN's Top 10 Plays List.
My request is simple - when you inevitably overhear a college basketball conversation around the office water cooler in the coming weeks, don't be afraid to acknowledge Associate Coach Chris Dailey after she draws up a play for University of Connecticut's Head Coach Geno Auriemma or Assistant Coach C.B. McGrath as he works with University of North Carolina's starting point guard Marcus Paige on his shot before the big game. While you're at it, don't be afraid to recognize another unheralded individual - you, the HR professional.
Dan Cross is a member of the SHRM Young Professional Advisory Council (YPAC).