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, August 26, 2013


Many individuals seek to make a difference – to become an integral part of the solution rather than a major part of the problem – but fail to recognize that personal credibility (the key to being integral) is established through the quality (rather than the frequency) of contributions.  Credibility is determined not by what (or how much) we say but by what HAPPENS when we act on our thoughts, concepts or directives.  Implied by this statement is that to establish credibility we must:

  • Hear issues with an open mind
  • Analyze each situation to identify potential solutions
  • Consider both positive and negative implications before implementing a solution
  • Initiate change by acting on our ideas, and 
  • Accept that changing OR staying the course are both intentional actions that produce consequences.  

Information is rampant in today’s society.  Electronic communications, on-line searches, business magazines, newsletters, and “wiki how-to’s” are available to anyone opening their mail or turning on their computer.  There has been a proliferation of “personal coaches” seeking individuals needing to be led down the narrow road to success and “cannot fail” solutions to everything from the stock market to personal relationships.  The market is flooded with “self-help” books written by “world-class experts” attempting to impart their infinite wisdom to a searching public.  With all this data available, why would an individual seek credibility by simply FINDING information that someone else could use to develop a solution?  Merely finding material, or referring others to where it can be found MAY establish you as a resource but WILL NOT add to personal or professional credibility in today’s information age.

In order to become an integral part of the solution we must take proactive steps that transform information into action by advancing thoughts and ideas to reality.  We must also accept not only the responsibility for taking action but also accountability for the results that our actions produced.  Far too many individuals are happy to give suggestions AS LONG AS someone else assumes the risk while providing them the rewards.

Anyone can find data and figure out what to do once a problem has materialized.  To become integral we must learn how to ANTICIPATE NEEDS for solutions by knowing enough about them to predict what might go wrong BEFORE the train derails.  Just “doing” your job or “avoiding conflict” in a relationship rarely provides the insight needed to become an integral partner.  We must delve deeply into the inner-workings of an operation (or a relationship) to understand the “why” rather than simply accepting the “what” of a situation.  The first step towards “becoming integral” is a self-initiated one of becoming knowledgeable – and having the courage to act once we come to an understanding of the situation.

In order to establish credibility we must learn how to INTERPRET not only the situation but also the available data so it that can be transformed into relevant information that allows us to take intentional actions to resolve a problem or improve a situation.  If the world needed ONLY data and information, why would it need you?  ALWAYS seek to add value to the data you find or the information you acquire by interpreting it and communicating it in a way that can be used by the audience – whether at work or in your personal life.  Recognize that this communication will vary based upon the audience – and that your conversation must be sincere and believable (rather than shallow or patronizing) to be seen as “credible.”  Gains (or losses) of credibility will be determined by:

  • The value you add to those that HEAR your communication and
  • The ACTION they can take because they believe your solutions to be:
    • Practical (or realistically innovative)
    • Feasible (or strongly possible)
    • Understandable (rather than beyond their understanding), and
    • Relevant (providing something of value “in return” for the risk they take when acting)
You must show how the information you provide can generate solutions (or positive change) if you seek to
become an integral part of a team (or a relationship).  Information without application is like a tire without air – it exists but is not nearly as useful as intended.  A tire becomes a valuable tool when we pump air into it – a worthless foundation should it remain flat.  We will never become a part of the solution until we establish our credibility with others by their seeing us as a valuable, viable and essential resource.

We become integral by imposing our own will rather than waiting for permission from someone else – by taking action rather than waiting for instructions or assignments.  We will never become more than others perceive us to be if we limit our contributions through an aversion of risk or an avoidance of independent actions (and the acceptance of their consequences).  To fully realize our potential by becoming an integral part of the solution rather than a replaceable (and expendable) part of the problem we must allow our thoughts, ideas and the consistently positive results of our actions convince others we are what we seek to become.