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, October 8, 2012


There have been countless articles and books written about how to properly influence and motivate people. Dale Carnegie once made a fortune telling us how to “Win Friends and Influence People,” By now almost everyone knows that we must “get the right people on the bus…” if we are going to run a successful organization. We even know how to “color our parachutes…” so that we can land on our feet if something goes wrong in our business. Life, however, is not always rosy – it often comes fraught with lessons, landmines and labyrinths. No road is ever as straight and narrow as anticipated nor is success as easy to find as outlined within the books others write.

There are two sides to every story – a “heads” to every “tail.” We cannot have a “yin” without a “yang,” nor do we often experience an end unless we (at some time) initiated a beginning. What happens to the “common ordinary folk” who often put themselves before others – that tend to dictate a course of action before they seek input from others? Are there lessons that we can learn from their INADEQUACIES that will help to strengthen our own adequacies? What happens to those who tend to “tell” rather than to “sell?” Who operate from a fortress of individual strength rather than from a sea of shared tranquility? Are they destined to fail or do they simply fail to succeed? Identifying some negative styles that poison both interpersonal relationships and personal success might be the first step to avoiding the dark implications they can bring – and to avoiding them before they can stifle our accomplishments.
  •  Mistrustful individuals can appear successful, but their apparent abilities often hide a deep distrust of others. They are relatively pessimistic, however, expecting to be mistreated by the world and are overly sensitive to criticism. They tend to find fault in others so they can appear to be stronger – to tear others down rather than building themselves up. Mistrustful people hold on to power, assign blame, and encourage secrecy. An organization OR a relationship led by a mistrustful individual tends to become a reflection of his or her individual personality. It can be successful IF the mistrustful individual is more often right than wrong in his or her misguided decisions BUT such a foundation tends to breed fear rather than freedom…suspicion rather than sharing.
  • Fearful individuals tend to be conservative, live by the rules, perform dutifully, and like to please others. They frequently, however, lack innovation and are so afraid of failure they would rather not act than do something perceived as wrong should it not be successful. Fearful people may WANT to move forward but constantly reign themselves back because they would rather "never have loved" than to have “loved and lost.” Relationships based on fear MAY be successful (little confrontation with single-minded focus) but rarely will they fully engage both participants nor fully leverage the contributions that all involved might have otherwise been able to make. 
  • Stubborn individuals can appear to be independent and freethinking. An optimist might paint them as being “dedicated” or “committed to their principles.” A realist might describe them as being procrastinators tending to work at their own pace, rarely changing direction or listening to the thoughts of others. Stubborn people often move forward NOT through their impeccable motivational skills but rather because they wear down their challengers by speaking incessantly without listening. It is one thing to take a “road less travelled” as long as you do not lose sight of your destination during the trip. It is altogether different, however, to simply hold out until everyone comes to your way of thinking – to wear them out rather than to work together to develop a mutually beneficial trail. 
  • Arrogant individuals often lead through charisma, confidence, and powers of persuasion. When pressured, they need recognition and “strokes,” frequently at the expense of those around them. They take all the credit for success and assign all the blame for failure. Feeling that they (personally) cannot fail, arrogant people surround themselves with agreeable people willing to sacrifice independence and a strong self-concept for the security of living a sheltered life within someone else’s shadow. Living (or working) within the shadow of arrogance may provide temporary relief from the heat of daily living but it will choke out individual growth – eventually stunting one’s potential much like a flower buried deep within a dark forest. 
  • Perfectionists are industrious, careful, and maintain high personal standards of performance – standards that may be too difficult for others to achieve or maintain. They can be relied upon to get things done, but must often do everything themselves to make sure it is done right (OR oversee others so tightly that they may find it difficult to breathe!). Their micro-management alienates others, causing staff to wait for specific directions (so that projects will not “be done incorrectly”) and personal relationships to languish (as equality is not a reasonable option). A perfectionist’s over-involvement may allow an organization to appear efficient and a relationship to seem fully functional for a short time BUT the truth will eventually set those involved free as one person cannot a kingdom build.
Because we are human, these characteristics reside within every one of us to one degree or another. Successful individuals tend to recognize their weaknesses and negative traits, pulling themselves (and those around them) forward in spite of their shortcomings. They compensate for inadequacies by relying on the strength of others. They acknowledge their own imperfections and draw upon other’s complimentary skills to overcome them. Great managers and builders of sound relationships are not immune from these negative characteristics – they simply rise above them by learning more about their own abilities (and inabilities) and about how the strengths of those around them can contribute to long-term success.

Mismanaging an organization’s resources often causes business to fail. Mismanagement of our personal lives and relationships may keep us from seeing our dreams brought to fruition. Become all that you were meant to be – and give back freely all that you have been given – by striving to achieve those proven characteristics we read great leaders possess while recognizing the negative characteristics that impact us all so we can avoid them to the best of our abilities.