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!

Friday, September 27, 2013


Many of the decisions we face everyday will be made based on “what feels right” rather than a well thought out “cause/effect” response to a defined set of facts – a definitive “cookbook” recipe of right and wrong. Good decision makers see a high percentage of their “judgment calls” result in successful outcomes – often because they listen to the facts available, make a decision ONLY AFTER considering not only what could go wrong but also what could go right, and anticipate alternative directions and responses prior to their becoming necessary. People who fail to thoroughly think through the potential results of their actions BEFORE initiating them often create more negative or “questionable” results than they do positive and should probably avoid roles where making sound decisions is an essential part of their daily routine.

Good judgment is the basis of all positive outcomes when making decisions and is truly an experience-based characteristic. In order to make more “good judgments” than bad we must actively seek a variety of experiences upon which we can draw to make good choices – we must learn from failure or we will fail to learn. Rarely can we assume a position of authority without having first experienced many different roles and responsibilities that allow us to win and to recover from our losses. Visualizing how one situation applies to another – dealing with the practical application of situations rather than just the theoretical facts – is a transition that many find difficult. (Probably the TWO exceptions to this rule are being in a personal relationship or being a parent. No experience or prior knowledge is typically available and there are no “proven methods guaranteed to work.” Reading a book will give you one person’s perspective. Reading many books will provide multiple perspectives. LIVING THROUGH the situation is the only way to gain your own perspective! Perhaps that is why so many people feel at a loss when sharing a relationship or raising children!)

Good choices are more often the result of many small decisions – seeing and reacting to how they impact
each other on the road to a major decision – than the infamous “ah-ha” moment creative and innovative trainers attempt to reveal. Great decisions are the result of careful analysis, thorough investigation, and a conscious, willful implementation of an action plan intended to initiate cautious forward movement. We never have all the answers – nor should we assume we have even asked all the right questions – but when we choose to move it MUST be with a sense of confidence that inspires others to follow.

We must continually expose others within our sphere of influence to new and different situations as we apply our knowledge – allowing them to grow by failing and feeling safe in doing so – if want them to develop their own breadth of experiences from which future decisions can be made independently from our own. Until another is developed and ready to carry on for us we cannot ascend the “ladder of success” as we will never make it past the first rung. When we make ourselves irreplaceably valuable at responding to and putting out fires we find our skills and talents cannot be “spared” to do anything else. The best “doer” in the world often fails as a leader because he or she fails to release what they did well when trying to assume new responsibilities – serving two masters rather than mastering one.

Making good decisions is part of a process rather than an event. As situations change, so should our willingness to shift direction. Once decisions are made we should move on to other challenges rather than dwelling on the action taken and agonizing on those not taken. Time does not stand still nor rest on its laurels - Do YOU?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Life is full of opportunities, challenges, suggestions and directions – all working to guide our paths as we accomplish our daily activities.  While many have adopted “gems of wisdom” handed down through previous generations to help guide their actions, influence their decisions and help establish their sense of values, over the years (along with the “golden rule” and other biblical principals) I have developed several concepts that help mold my personal decisions (that I have listed below).  When we feel we “have arrived” and know it all – when we can stop learning and coast through life with the knowledge we have accumulated – is when we actually stop living and begin only to exist.
  • If given the option of doing something right or doing it quickly, choose doing it right. 
  • Do not make a decision until (and unless) you are willing to accept the consequences of your actions.
  • Newton had it right – every action results in an equal and opposite reaction.  Do not act
    without considering what will change, who will be effected and whether more good than bad will be brought into play.
  • Life is not an isolated event having one beginning and one end.  It is a series of starts and stops
    – of new beginnings arising from short-term plateaus rather than of abrupt endings without thoughts of continuation.  If you do nothing else in life, enjoy what you do.  If you seek nothing else from life, seek what you wish to accomplish.  Should you ever feel that “all has been said” and “all has been done,” run quickly from where you are – get back onto the circle of life where every end is but the beginning of something new and different.
  • Spending time to improve ourselves often provides an immediate return.  Spending the same time to improve others pays dividends in the future that are incalculable to us today.
  • It is better to live life without fearing death than to fear death so much that you fail to live life. 
  •  Life is full of activity and of rest – of visions and of voids.  Refresh during times of rest so you
    can accomplish much during times of activity.  Perhaps more importantly, make sure no void ever goes unfilled.
  • When you say things without worrying about how they will affect others you build a ceiling that limits how far you may rise.  When you say things without caring how they affect others you reduce others so that you might easily rise above them without having to elevate yourself.  Only when you rise with the help and assistance of others will the sky be your limit.
  • Turning out the lights indicates closure on things we have accomplished.  Reaching for the stars exposes new opportunities we have not yet seen.  I would prefer spending my time looking into the light than staring into the darkness.
  • When reaching out to help others, make sure you provide the tools they need to accomplish great things rather than only the great things they want.  All your help and efforts become but a disservice if an individual receives “the world” without learning how to achieve (and maintain) greatness through their own efforts and abilities.

Please feel free to reply to this list with additional insights and “rules of engagement” you rely upon to help develop your actions, interactions and attitudes.