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!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


When working with people, our “first impressions” often inaccurately influence the way we react to others UNLESS we take time to identify their origins. I have found that:

Unfounded perceptions can negatively influence thoughts and actions. I once worked with the owner of a small machine shop that was struggling financially. A 76-year old machinist became a “source of conflict” within the shop. The owner wished all his employees were as loyal and undemanding – seeing him as a great role model for others. Employees “did not want to end up working until they died because they could not afford to retire,” viewing him as great motivation to seek other employment. Perceptions, however, not reality as the worker in question told me he really did not have to work NOR was he particularly loyal – but that “if I ever met his wife I’d know why he was still working!” Often our perceptions can taint our thinking…always learn all the facts before making a judgment.

We miss much in life when we assume what another is thinking or doing – or limit what we feel they can contribute. One of the most critical components in the development of a Compensation Program is to ask employees what they actually do (rather than assuming we know what their job entails). An hourly employee once told me that the purpose of his job was to “bring to fruition the dreams of the owner so that we can share in his rewards.” While this answer did nothing to define job responsibilities, it DID speak volumes to the owner about how employees viewed their work. He began to pose questions to employees and include them in decisions he would not have discussed when thinking that they “did only what they were told” rather than believing they could “contribute positively to his dream.” Once he began to view employees more as partners than as workers his company began to grow and prosper exponentially – with increased efficiency and a reduced turnover rate.

People (and our thoughts about them) can contribute positively to us OR weigh us down. If we take the time to verify our perceptions before we pass judgment we can often avoid making assumptions that could lead us down the wrong path. If we ask for help and opinions from others before acting they can often make our journey easier. If we listen to what others say, we often find we are not so alone in the world – which support and affirmation can come from unexpected sources. People will always say (and do) the strangest things. Make sure you pay enough attention to what they are saying or doing (and sometimes what they are NOT saying or doing) that they can truly make a difference in your life!