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, July 30, 2012


We celebrate individual accomplishment every four years during an event called “The Olympics.” While national pride is important and camaraderie seems to be the “glue” holding athletics together, individual training, hard solitary work, unwavering dedication and selfless sacrifice – along with God-given talent – elevate the individuals competing for gold, silver and bronze from “the rest of the world.” In a world too often filled with “appealing to the masses” and “elevating the whole,” rewards for “pulling yourself up by the bootstraps” have been minimized – a sad testimony that the voice of the individual has succumbed to the shouts of the people.

Business leaders have the ability to leverage the talents of others – bringing together diverse thoughts, abilities and cultures – to generate success by focusing individuals to accomplish a single goal. Coaches have the ability to maximize the contributions of individuals – highlighting their strengths and compensating for their weaknesses – in order to bring the team glory. Politicians are able to motivate the majority – identifying and speaking to the needs of a diverse electorate – as they seek to carry out their Party platform (often to the detriment of their individual beliefs). Teachers must bring enough of the class to a minimum level of proficiency so that test scores reflect grade-level expectations. Few, however, develop “the gifted” to their full potential because they are too busy bringing up those not yet meeting standards to reward those exceeding them - too busy focusing upon the needs of the whole to satisfy those of the individual.

While “the power of team” is an important component within today’s world, I would venture that the “power of the individual” is far more critical. Teams carry the burden but individuals often identify the path upon which they must travel. A group can come together to identify a workable solution but an individual often states the problem needing resolution. A team can win a war but victory would not be possible were it not for a multitude of individual “wins” and a similar number of personal “losses.”

It is refreshing to land upon an island of individuality when sailing the seas of mediocrity – to find a venue that acknowledges and rewards the achievements of a dedicated individual facing insurmountable odds rather than making excuses for his or her failure to compete. The Olympics focuses upon ideals we once held true – that hard work and dedication will pay off in the end. We see the dreams and aspirations of individual athletes either brought to fruition OR dashed upon a rocky shore – either celebrated in victory or shattered beyond all recognition.

We celebrate individual accomplishment during this event, but why should we stop when the Olympics have concluded? Refuse to believe that someone else is responsible for your success. Every individual makes a conscious decision to apply their unique talents and abilities towards the solution of a problem OR to let them lie dormant, becoming a part of the problem themselves. Refuse to accept that you must give more just because you can. We are a society founded not upon “from each according to their ability, to each according to their need.” Rather we were told that anyone could become anything - the only limitation being our individual abilities and how hard we worked to apply them as we sought to support our individual needs.

Celebrate the Olympic spirit this week as you immerse yourself in the individual accomplishments of a unique and talented group of people – then reach deeply into yourself to identify that same individual quality. Work selflessly to bring it to fruition in all you do and say and you, too, will be considered a champion.