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!

Monday, October 18, 2010


Having grown up in an era where a telephone was a device that transmitted voice communications from one person to another (and even occasionally shared the conversation via what was then called a “party line”), I sometimes have a hard time understanding the way individuals “talk” to each other today.

We once verbalized our thoughts – we now reduce our discussions to a series of keystrokes. Raising one’s voice was “shouting” in times gone by – now one needs only raise the case of their typing from lower case to all capitals. “Community” was where one lived – now it is a space having no boundaries that houses those with whom we communicate.

News, once seen on television, heard on radio and read in newspapers, is history by the time it reaches these “traditional” media sources. We have 24/7 access to breaking news over the internet (or through portable handheld devices) via our electronic mail boxes. Some have said that today’s news is created through analysis and interpretation of available information rather than through investigation and reporting of facts – an observation I cannot totally discount. Good news does not sell – negative news, rumor, innuendo or articles that focus on the fallibility of people capture our imagination.

Electronics are making our world a smaller place – where “breaking news” seems to be available almost before it “breaks.” Providing a “surface look” at the truth has become sufficient for many. Privacy, once valued and respected by individuals, is but a temporary obstacle on the path towards full disclosure. We authorize agencies to take funds directly from our accounts based only on an electronic transaction statement and freely reveal our identities (and credit information) to strangers whenever we purchase something online. What does it profit us to abandon conversation in exchange for communication?

Though the road upon which we travel is one we cannot easily exit, what ultimate price will we pay when “communicating” displaces socializing – if it has not yet done so? Before you reach for the computer (or the Blackberry or phone with a retractable keyboard) to fire off a memo, think about the art of communication (rather than the process of e-communicating). Make an effort to return to the era where words could paint a picture and the mind’s eye could see a masterpiece – you won’t regret the effort as you make a difference in the lives of those around you!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


What do YOU think about the “if you are at least two months behind in payments…” or the “if you have at least $30,000 in credit card debt…” ads that dangle the “it’s OK if you get in trouble” carrot in front of us IF ONLY we call now? There seem to be dozens of “escapes” available to consumers (mostly at the expense of producers) – but what about an honest to goodness opportunity for business to save money while trying to grow and remain viable?

To paraphrase one of the “personal debt” pitchmen, “If your business wants to become more profitable – to become more competitive within a global market – DO NOT miss The Employers’ Association’s Vendor Open House on October 21, 2010 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.”

Put into practice the lessons learned these past few tough years. Work smarter (not harder) to create growth. Leverage every opportunity you can to add value to your organization – it will improve YOUR value within the organization. Move towards the future rather than dwelling in the past. NEVER pay full price if you can get the same quality service for less!

Our Open House will feature refreshments, information, and many of the partnerships we’ve established with members to help make YOUR BUSINESS more profitable through discounted offerings, features available only through The Association, or programs bundled in a manner that makes “doing business” almost as easy as “calling 1-800…” to get out of personal debt.

Contact us today (616.698.1167) to learn more about our partnerships AND how The Association can help you by “providing practical Human Resource Solutions to West Michigan employers that promote operational excellence and sustainability.” We ask only that you tell us you are coming AND you bring an open mind willing to exchange “the way things have always been” for new and different ways that will allow you to experience business success “the way you’d prefer it to be!”

Friday, October 8, 2010


Motivational posters inspire us by linking a strong visual image with an appeal of greatness to our inner selves. The profitability of organizations such as “Successories” validates our craving for external inspiration.

Sports quotes often inspire and motivate to greatness by linking individual ambitions to the accomplishments of others. “We don’t lose – we just run out of time.” “It’s not the getting knocked down that counts – it’s the getting up.” A plethora of these quotes are used in business today to build teams AND self-confidence.

Rarely has one of these inspirational pieces captured my imagination, however, as one I received recently for my birthday (nor has it so succinctly stated what it takes to thrive within uncertain times). How would YOU finish this partially expressed thought?

Risk more than others think safe, care more than other think wise, dream more than others think practical, expect more than others think possible…

If, indeed, you were to do these four things, where might you be today? What might you have accomplished had you risked more than others thought was safe or expected more than others thought could have been possible? How great an impact might you have had on someone if only you had cared more than others thought was wise? Would your “station” in life be different today had you dreamed (and lived out that dream) more than others thought practical?

There are many things in life that motivate – inspirational quotes…powerful images…captivating thoughts – but the greatest motivators in life are experiential. We will grow, accomplish and succeed only when we accept risk, express care, dare to dream, and know all things are possible.

As inspirational as quotes and posters may be, stop linking yourself to the success of another. Be unafraid and begin to experience your own!

Friday, October 1, 2010


A good manager must operate as if propped up by a three-legged stool balancing firmly upon a foundation of Capability, Consistency, and Credibility.

While many can express a thorough knowledge of products, systems or sets of facts, one is not deemed “capable” of managing until that understanding is applied to a situation or set of circumstances in such a way that employees experience positive (and sustainable) change. Capability cannot be “claimed,” it must be demonstrated through every word spoken and action taken.

Though many feel that to “be a leader” they must initiate change, employees must understand the “why” before they will respond to the “what” of fresh starts. Alterations to the pre-determined course of action can create untold fear and anxiety within a workforce when managers drift aimlessly upon the winds. A manager seeking to lead effectively must be consistent and predictable in his or her thought patterns (but NOT hesitant to try new things or walk in new directions).

Unless one’s judgment and integrity is established – a basic understanding of people, their needs and their preferences clearly expressed – a manager may command but will never motivate. Lasting change cannot be born through fear – it must emanate from inspiration. A manager that knows the right things to say but chooses to act differently – that can “teach” but cannot seem to “do” – will never be an effective, inspirational leader.

A good blend of capability, consistency and credibility allows us to say what we are going to do, to do what we say we will, and to take responsibility for the outcome of our actions. Make sure you maintain a firm foundation upon all three legs of your management stool when leading those that depend on your direction!