The Employers' Association

The Employers’ Association (TEA) is a not-for-profit employers’ association, formed in 1939, with offices in Grand Rapids serving the West Michigan employer community. We help more than 600 member companies maximize employee productivity and minimize employer liability through human resources and management advice, training, survey data, and consulting services.

TEA is in the business of helping people. This blog is intended to address human issues, concerns and the things that impact people - be they self-perpetuated or externally imposed. Feel free to respond to the thoughts presented here, for without each other, we are nothing!

Friday, May 21, 2010


What is the “new normal” to you? I’ve heard the term linked with the different values each generation brings to the workforce. I’ve heard the “new normal” as being anything replacing that which is old or outdated. The new normal has been used to address ongoing high unemployment, periods of continuing inflation (or recession), or an unexpected change in work schedule that extends beyond a short period of time.

Increased hiring activity within certain occupations is viewed as being the new normal, while individuals working outside of these “preferred” occupations might be considered headed for extinction. Longer (or shorter) work schedules? Those, too, fall into the catch-all category of being the new normal – the industry in which you work defining whether the new normal means more (or less) work during these boom (or bust) times.

It seems that things once viewed as being “different” or “unique” have lost their luster, being replaced by a continuous wave of sights, experiences and instances that become the “new normal” regardless of how long (or short) their existence. An individual lacking focus and direction was once thought of as being a dreamer who “tilted at windmills.” He (or she) is now considered to be “multi-tasking,” unwilling to be constrained by the traditional confines of time and space as higher goals and aspirations are pursued.

Whatever your “new normal” might be – or the term might mean to you – don’t forget to reflect upon the past, embrace the present, then seek to clearly differentiate your dreams, goals and imaginings before bringing them to fruition as you build towards a brighter tomorrow. Allow each day’s sunset to bring closure to your life – so that each and every morning might offer a new beginning - a “new normal” in which you might truly thrive.

Friday, May 14, 2010


It has been written that variety is the spice of life BUT it seems many seek to homogenize the world by establishing their own values as the standard to which others should be measured. To these short-sighted souls, walking a mile in another’s shoes means that others would be wise to follow the path they have chosen, and the thought of sharing the lifestyle of another (and possibly growing from the differences) would be but an effort in futility!

Why is it so hard for some to accept that all have value and worth in the world just as they are, choosing instead to either pull those that “have not” up OR to drag those that “have” down? To those seeking to change the world – have you ever considered that not all wish to change? To those seeking equality for all – have you considered that equity might be a better alternative? Why do some make their lives more difficult by trying to change all things rather than only those that can (or should) be altered?

As summer approaches, take a step back and accept the “person” within each personality you meet. Elevate each individual without reducing their individuality to but a reflection of what you think they should be. Accept life as it is and others as they are – perhaps you can share the happiness they’ve found within a less complicated existence!

Monday, May 10, 2010


Geese are structured and protective birds by nature – much like many supervisors and teachers that I’ve met. Leaders, trainers and educators tend to establish clear and concise expectations that must be followed in a defined manner to achieve anticipated results. Much like the choreographed motion within a flock of geese in flight, there tends to be a “time and place” for everything when others are led towards a common objective – a structure that produces results without allowing much individual variance.

What if we approached leadership more like motivating a flock of hungry gulls along an ocean shore, seeking to focus a “flock” mentality by providing immediate rewards for seemingly uncoordinated effort? If we were to concentrate more upon the goal (or the end result) than the road upon which we must travel, might not we be able to accomplish great things while orchestrating the seeming chaos of individual effort into an activity that satisfies the needs of the whole?

While some people will follow a leader in order to reach a goal, preferring the safety of the flock to mask their individuality, others would prefer to reach the destination through their own initiative. To lead effectively we must recognize this variance by charting a path and monitoring progress for the “geese” we lead that need direction and structure while providing an unlimited horizon for our “gulls” seeking an outcome through their individual efforts. A good leader often succeeds by accomplishing one or the other – a great leader accomplishes both!