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, August 30, 2011


During today’s competitive market, choosing right over wrong, ethics over convenience, and truth over popularity are difficult measures of life. Business leaders must continually use consistency, fairness and equity as the litmus test for decisions they make in regards to product offerings, finances and employment-related issues. Employees (or those seeking work) must identify and present truth over fiction, reality over desires and an honest appraisal of what they can do over what they feel they could be capable of doing when seeking advancement or fulfillment. Far too many of the ethical shortcomings in today’s world have their roots in a lack of open and honest communication – people or business seeing what they can get away with rather than doing what they know is right – as they seek the fulfillment of self-serving values.

We often find ourselves in a difficult position after communicating a partial truth, remaining silent on an important aspect or condition, or failing to tell the “why” when issuing instruction or correction. I once spent nearly half an hour explaining to a supervisor what HE should say when disciplining two employees for a serious rules infraction (so he could take ownership of the corrective action). I was surprised and disappointed when he brought both employees into his office then pointed accusingly at me before proclaiming that “I don’t want to do this but Dave says I have to…” The issue was resolved, the supervisor lost all credibility, and we created an opportunity to train a new supervisor to replace the one demoted shortly thereafter. Unfortunately, many situations in life do not allow “demotions” once a misstep has been made. Honesty and integrity must be the benchmark of all communication – fairness and equity the litmus – for an individual to earn and maintain respect.

Several years ago, business leaders made a number of questionable decisions resulting in their VERY public convictions – and onerous laws to prevent the recurrence of their actions were created. Today, many professional athletes are paying the price that making “popular” decisions have wrought but seem to be given a “return to society free pass” once they have fulfilled their punishment. Coaches seem to fall into the same realm of invincibility believing that nothing could happen to them (but seem to avoid scandal by taking the “apology path” perfected by our elected officials when caught in a questionable situation).

Perhaps a return to accountability and total disclosure in all the actions we take – and an application of that same attitude by the officials we elect - would be a good step to take as we return to “business as usual” this fall. When we choose to travel the path of integrity – without looking back – there is never a wrong time to do the right thing!

Friday, August 12, 2011


Have you ever met someone who sets a course in life based on how many others are doing the same thing? Rather than identifying problems, investigating their root cause and acting to resolve them they tend to take the path of least resistance and “go where others are going” or focus on the “wrongs” of others so their questionable actions seem much more “right.”

The travesty in life is that far too many people diminish their potential by following the crowd. They do what is popular rather than standing strong on their own values, judgments and decisions. They choose acceptance by the majority rather than the criticism that standing alone often brings. They accept the stagnation of “what is” rather than seeking the opportunities of “what could be.” Their mantra might be “I am no different than anyone else” rather than “I am a unique individual whose potential is limited only by my own actions and behaviors.”

Following the crowd is easy – you do what others accept, go where others are going, act as others act and find a sense of community by blending in. Only when one recognizes and acknowledges that much can come from seeking a different reality than that chosen by the crowd will he or she begin to realize that loss can become gain, failure can breed success, and the decision to stop can either be an end OR the impetus to move ahead. Followers of a crowd tend to accept the group’s vision as a final destination. Individuals having confidence in themselves envision a future built upon the foundation of their dreams.

Had Fulton listened to “common wisdom” would he ever have invented the steam engine? Would the Wright brothers launched their dreams into the air had “the crowd” determined the way? Is our nation stronger and more stable because our leaders make decisions based on polls that measure what the majority think they should do – taking the more acceptable route rather than seeking potentially unpopular counsel? Might we be in a better place if our leaders simply acted to bring the promises made to the people that elected them to fruition?

What might YOU be able to accomplish – what potential might you be able to realize – if you “marched to your own drummer” rather than listening to the tunes sung by others? Make the most of your individuality in whatever you may say or do – for while many people try to be something or someone they are not, there is only one you in the world.