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, February 12, 2013


What makes us decide to do things differently – particularly if the things we are doing provide us comfort or a measure of success? What makes us wander from what is familiar to us in search of unknown opportunities? If we wish to move beyond our current station in life – expecting something different to result from our actions and choices – we must start by deliberately considering of an intentional act that, when taken, will forever change us. When we consider the ramifications of changed behavior and act to implement change we redefine where we are going (one should not expect similar results when doing things differently) by intentionally altering where we have been and what we have done while moving relentlessly towards where we want to be.

Far too often success breeds arrogance, which leads to complacency. If we ride a single success beyond its effective lifespan – thinking “our way” is the only way – someone else will either assume our market share (by improving upon what we do), force us to change (by revealing the shortcomings of our established approach), or disrupt our stagnant but comfortable existence (by offering a more exciting option). We must actively appraise the things we do – both within our work and our personal relationships – retaining those things that contribute to our growth and replacing those that hold us back. By continuously analyzing both our strengths and weaknesses, identifying the things that hold us back and leveraging those that pull us forward, we can remain an effective contributor to the life around us.
Recognizing that change is the only constant in life is necessary if we are to enjoy the rewards that come from accepting the risks of change. We must learn to embrace the possibility of failure – recognizing that with failure comes learning which leads to growth. Success is not born through frantic movement without direction or purpose. It comes ONLY when we stop what we are doing – when we consider the many paths upon which we could travel – so we can begin doing something new by taking a new road in a different direction.
Whenever we initiate change, we must recognize and acknowledge three major factors - intentionally identifying and addressing their hold upon us:
  • We must acknowledge where we have been, recognize what we have accomplished, and wish to be or do something different before we can start to travel upon a new path. How can we better serve our customers? What can we do to improve a relationship? Must we alter our behavior so that we can remain relevant within a changing world? Is there anything that we can do to strengthen another – or that we would be willing to allow another do to help strengthen us? We recognize the need for change when our goals or objectives have changed. We must consciously step from our original path onto one that will refocus and redirect our efforts if we wish to harvest the fruits of change. Before embarking on such a path, however, internalize that our desire to begin something new is stronger than our contentment with what we have – that moving forward provides more desirable rewards than remaining where we are.
  • We must stop doing the things we are doing – that we have always done - no matter how effective they may have been in the past or how comfortable we might be in doing them. When we accept and acknowledge that change is necessary we must abandon the paths (and methods) with which we are comfortable, intentionally and deliberately walking away from the safety provided. A change in paradigm must often occur – walking away from “what is usually done and accepted by others” towards “what has not yet been tried.” A disciplinary procedure must not always include time off without pay (what is the value of suspension when an employee chooses not to work in the first place?). A relationship must provide all involved with a measure of satisfaction – building the esteem of all parties – or it is nothing more than a hollow structure built on shifting sand. How can a meaningful relationship be maintained if both parties want everything “their way” with neither willing to “walk a mile” in the other’s shoes?
  • As we identify and abandon the habits and actions holding us back we must move forward in a way that produce positive growth and change – that rewards us for our efforts so that we will continue to reach for new horizons. We all have personal strengths – the characteristics responsible for any success we have achieved. Everyone can celebrate “peaks of accomplishment” in their past. Far too many, however, choose to rest within the quiet valleys beyond their achievements, gazing up and establishing value based on those things that were done in the past rather than on those things that have not yet been identified. In order to realize meaningful change we must identify the thoughts, practices and actions that brought us to our heights (to replicate them) while discarding those that brought us to our knees (to avoid their recurrence).
People must change more than their outward appearance if they expect their path to shift significantly. We often hear about “new and improved” products only to find nothing but the packaging has changed. Television networks frequently change the night that a failing program airs in order to gain viewers from a less competitive offering. If we are resolved to change we must consciously decide NOT to “stay the course” by innovatively clearing a new path into an unknown wilderness. We must acknowledge our past (both the wins and the losses) before we can define our present (from which we must move forward) if we harbor any expectation of creating a different future (that holds limitless opportunity). In order to initiate change it is important that we continually take stock of what we are doing and where we are going – then actively seek paths that will lead us from complacency to new destinations, new relationships and new opportunities. When we come to a fork in the road we must move forward rather than waiting for our path to be determined by someone else.  Once we identify our new direction we must resolve to move forward – for nothing will change until we consciously and intentionally move from where we are towards where we wish to be.