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, June 25, 2013


One cannot do only what has been assigned (regardless of how well each individual assignment is performed) if one expects to grow and succeed. Looking back (instead of ahead), remaining content with the present (rather than building upon the present as a springboard to the future), and doing what works (as opposed to seeking what might work better) are all signs of career stagnation. A source of water must be made available if a pond wishes to become a lake. A seed cannot become an oak tree without the proper conditions and nourishment. An individual cannot become “one” with another without caring more for the other than for him or her self. If one wishes to achieve “the possible” rather than being content to accomplish those things that are “probable,” the thoughts, ideas and abilities of others must be leveraged to enhance and transform “what is” into “what could be.” In order to assure life-changing assistance and support is available when needed we should strive to:

1) Clarify the difference between efficiency with effectiveness. An e-mail may be efficient, but a conversation could more effectively resolve an issue without extended “replies and clarifications.” Effective individuals make sure that every investment of time and/or energy has a direct and measurable impact. They rarely waste time or energy doing unnecessary things that “could be done – might be nice” but are not related to the accomplishment of their objectives. Effective individuals accomplish things that need doing in order to move forward – and do them well. Efficient individuals accomplish all things well whether or not they serve to advance their cause or move them towards a defined objective. An immediate e-mail communication may efficiently promote conversation but might not effectively resolve an issue.  When we strive to be EFFECTIVE in all that we say and do, EFFICIENCY will necessarily follow.  While being efficient is an admirable trait, it should be a means to an end rather than an end in and of itself.

2) Avoid the misguided concept of being irreplaceable. If an individual feels that nobody could EVER do what he or she does, that person has probably limited what he or she can accomplish. When we feel nobody could ever do the things we do as well as we do them ourselves – and accept that as an unwavering paradigm – we become so enamored with our abilities that we fail to identify our possibilities. If nobody else can do (or even wishes to try) your job, then you will never advance beyond the rung of the ladder upon which you have firmly positioned yourself.

3) Quit believing that know all the answers. People who know to ask the right questions are much more valuable than those who can give all the right answers. One must always be open to new ideas, techniques, and ways of doing things. We can truly contribute to our organization’s success and profitability – or experience all that life could offer – ONLY after identifying the limitations of current systems, policies, practices or procedures by asking questions as to how they might be improved. Nothing will change, however, until we decide to act – to move forward by implementing the answers received of the questions we asked (rather than doing things as we have always done them because we think we know all the answers ourselves).

4) ALWAYS give credit to others. People recognizing and acknowledging the ideas and actions of others tend to share a never-ending ride to the top – enjoying a seemingly unlimited potential “upside” while tempering their individual risk. Those that take credit for another’s ideas had better like themselves a lot because they may not have supportive friends to prop them up in the future.

5) Add to existing abilities and upgrade outdated skills, refusing to accept “what is” as “what will always be.” What was once necessary to maintain a life-long job or to enjoy a long-lasting relationship is no longer sufficient in today’s ever-changing world. Employees who “fail to know” typically fail to grow – those who refuse to retrain typically will not remain. Unless an individual brings more into a relationship than he or she could ever expect it to return – is willing to give to another more than is taken (unconditionally and without expectations) and seeks to gain more by sharing than by receiving, he or she will never realize the treasures awaiting them just beyond their current reality.

While we may be able to start a race on our own, we need the help, support and efforts of those around us to finish. Life is not a sprint – it is a marathon. To accomplish much, we must give much. To receive support from those around us we must first encourage their individual growth. To rise to the top – to finish the race – we must not only build the foundation upon which we stand (so that we are firmly rooted in our convictions), we must accept the support of those around us as we grow – support possible ONLY because we cared enough to share with those around us.