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, October 21, 2011


One must closely monitor progress and constantly identify obstacles that could hinder the accomplishment of goals if he or she wishes to succeed. Consider carefully changes to established plans or your current situation before acting, but remember that the worst possible alternative many take is unintentional inaction.

The game of chess requires many of the same thought processes as life – well planned, intentional actions (rather than "knee jerk" responses to temporary conditions) that limit potential repercussions. I remember playing chess with my dad years ago when he asked how I could respond so quickly after he had agonized over a move for nearly ten minutes. I told him he was good enough to know the few moves he could logically make that made sense – and since he reacted in a predictable and rational manner I was immediately ready with another move.

We need to plan our lives in much the same way. An individual will never reach his or her full potential should too much focus be placed upon the path taken rather than the prize at its conclusion. To taste significant success one must start with an expectation of significant accomplishment.

A rather shortsighted fellow once told me, “If you never dream, you will never fail. If you set your bar low, you will never be disappointed.” I would challenge that without an endpoint you will never know when you have arrived. While you may never be lost when you do not know where you are going, you will never know when you have found what you seek without identifying your destination in advance. Life without purpose can be eventful but is rarely satisfying. It may be full of new beginnings but is strangely at a loss for successful “ends.”

Friday, October 14, 2011


Were we to live in an ideal world, everyone would focus more on new beginnings than on conclusions or endings. “Drawing a line in the sand” would define more our intent to move forward than to keeping us from stepping back – to establish that we are initiating a new path or direction rather than highlighting where we would prefer to leave. Far too often, however, people think that closing one chapter as more important than opening the next – that finding closure is somehow more critical than initiating change. I would disagree, preferring to think that drawing a line in the sand should serve as a springboard that launches you into the not-yet realized reality existing deeply within your imagination.

We should reflect upon the past, embrace the present, seek to clearly differentiate our dreams and/or goals, then (and only then) act intentionally to bring them to fruition as we make and (seek to make) a difference. Rather than artificially ending each activity before starting another, allow each day’s sunset to bring closure to life so that morning might offer a fresh new beginning. Far too many good-intentioned individuals stagnate just across their line in the sand because they were more concerned with enacting change than they were with charting a new path and moving forward in a new direction.

The next time you draw a line in the sand, think about the new realities that will be established through the actions you will be taking rather than focusing upon what will no longer be done because you stopped performing or acting. We build the future upon dreams that become reality – not on the actions taken to avoid negative consequences. Refuse to live in a world of “what is” and you just might find yourself firmly rooted in “what if” or “what could be.”

What intentional acts have you taken lately to initiate change? Were you successful in moving forward towards the unknown or were your more motivated by a fear of falling back? Were you more hesitant to let go of “what is” than you were excited to reach out for “what could be? Draw your line, step over it, then move steadfastly ahead – refusing to limit your potential by focusing upon what you wish to leave behind – and you will become a major part of the solution rather than an insignificant portion of the problem.

Friday, October 7, 2011


Human Resources MAY once have been a field where individuals having a true love for people could serve their organizations well by acting as an advocate for employees and a conduit in expressing Management’s expectations. Having been “seasoned” by nearly 30 years of experience, I would suggest a “people person” stay as far from this critically strategic role as possible! The role of HR Professional has become much more than making and keeping people happy (if ever it truly were that simple!). A strategic HR Professional makes decisions requiring logical consistency and a reasonable sense of right and wrong – made to minimize risk as an organization moves towards the accomplishment of its goals and objectives rather than out of a concern for acceptance.

Today’s HR Professional must become an integral part of his or her organization.

• We should not limit our impact to finding and hiring people to fill available openings – it must be expanded to identifying and cultivating a talent pool that will be ready when needed (which assumes an intimate knowledge of operations and company direction to know who will be needed and when they will be required).
• We should not simply track turnover – we should analyze trends, anticipate turnover and act to avoid it before it becomes a factor.
• We should not become the “police” in regards to issuing discipline for rules infractions or safety violations – we must be the developer of practical policies that can be “owned” and enforced by managers recognizing their value in maintaining sound operations.
• People simply WANTING to make a difference often avoid “correcting the boss or Owner” for fear of reprisal. Professionals truly MAKING a difference will not compromise their integrity or values by treating individuals differently – regardless of the position held within the Organization.

Though HR is intended to be the lifeline between employee and employer – the advocate that insures employees are treated with respect – an HR Professional must also advance and defend those things that are best for the business REGARDLESS of how fair (or unfair) they may seem to employees. The Human Resource profession, having emerged from the shadows of “personnel management,” serves as a vital watchdog for business AS WELL AS an essential advocate for employees. People accepting this critical role must be consistent in their actions (and unafraid to act) as they anticipate obstacles that might detour success while minimizing risk by insuring compliance with a plethora of employment-related legislation and ever-increasing regulatory activities. HR is not for the weak of heart – or for the “lover of people” anymore (if it ever were).

We all share space within the HR Universe – yet assume vastly different roles. Are you more of a “doer” (focused upon the road you must travel) or a “dreamer” (focused more on where you are going than how you will get there)? How has your world changed during the past several years? Have you embraced the opportunities change has presented or fought to minimize the disruptions? Your honest answers define the role you will play as your organization moves into the future!