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, January 17, 2011


The only way an individual will thrive is by learning to accept the previously unacceptable - to innovate rather than finding comfort in what always was (because it may never again be)! We once sought knowledge so we could perform a job by applying our "learning" to known, well-defined situations. We must now learn to think (rather than simply thinking that we can "do as expected") within an ever-changing world.

Our educational institutions must reinvent themselves to make sure that students grasp core concepts and how they are applied rather than memorizing answers to questions that may never be asked. (If we continue to teach only the answers, who will know what questions to ask once the teachers are gone?) We must move away from rewarding effort towards recognizing accomplishment. Life-long learning has become practical reality for those hoping to advance in (or even retain) their job. We must either intentionally move forward towards new opportunity OR we will be left behind to pick up the pieces of "life as we knew it."

Lost in the call for change is the definition of reality. Is the light at the end of the tunnel one of Hope or is it one of unavoidable Disaster? Embracing the opportunities that an uncertain future offers is much more productive than worrying about things we cannot control or obsessing over change that is going to happen with or without us! The easiest way to prepare for the future has always been to study the past in an effort to avoid previously made mistakes. We should look back just long enough, however, to acknowledge shortcomings, analyze why actions may (or may not) have created desired outcomes, then move forward understanding yesterday’s mistakes should be no more than tomorrow’s memories (rather than a predictor of future action). Individuals tend to embrace the opportunity of a new tomorrow by consciously (and intentionally) leaving behind what is not working as they seek what might be OR are swept up in someone else’s vision without considering its ramifications – by drawing a line in the sand over which they will not retreat.

Change, while necessary, should not become our focus. Focus upon the process of change (rather than on change itself). Think about what might be rather than what will not work. Elevate individuals to a level of equality rather than seeking ways to “meet in the middle,” taking from those that “have” and giving it to those that need. We should provide for those “who do not have” by teaching them to fish (rather than by “redistributing” someone else’s catch). Lasting change will always focus on resolution – drastic (and extreme) disruption finds its roots in revolution!