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, March 10, 2014


Far too many people think that moving away from a situation – that picking up and starting over – is all they need to do to begin a new life and experience different results given the same effort.  They feel that changing the environment around will drastically alter their lives – will magically cause them to react differently to situations or choose different courses of action.  Not surprisingly, when individuals run away from their worlds they rarely run away from themselves (so “picking up and starting over” accomplishes very little).

People tend to maximize the impact others have on their failures while minimizing their own contribution to negative results.  Likewise, they maximize their personal contributions towards any success while discounting the contribution of others.  They DO NOT realize that distancing themselves from a situation or problem does nothing to eliminate one of the major factors that are tough to run from – that being the person they see whenever they look in a mirror.  We can run from places, situations, relationships and the ramifications of the choices we make but we cannot alter “who we are” or how we react by simply positioning ourselves in a different space or time.  When recognizing the need for change and identifying the steps needed to implement it, “the monster in the closet” that needs addressing is often “us” (and the things we do) rather than “them” (or the things done to us).  Identifying and owning our own role in creating a roadblock to success is vital if we are to overcome the obstacles in front of us.  Realistically establishing what role we played in the success of an endeavor (rather than claiming all the credit while shifting all the blame) will help build “transferable problem solving skills” that will serve us well.

Too many people live in a world of “what is” rather than in one of “what if.”  They like to make excuses for
things that happen “to them” rather than identifying and implementing solutions that change or alter “where they are” so they can become “what they wish to be.”  Nobody is going to make us succeed – we must wrap success around ourselves by considering the ramifications of each action we take and the impact that each choice we make has on the world around us.  We cannot run away from “who” we are – we only shift “what” we are to a new location UNLESS we identify our strengths (and utilize them) as well as our weaknesses (and work on them) so we can own the solutions that are developed through the contributions of many (rather than through our own limited knowledge).  Though a new environment might provide a fresh perspective, it will not change what we do or how we do it UNTIL we identify our flaws and intentionally act to change (or overcome) them. We cannot become something different by moving to a new location, beginning a new relationship or taking a new job unless we change, alter or modify ourselves in such a manner that new initiatives and altered perspectives are probabilities rather than remote possibilities.

Change can be good (if it is intentional rather than accidental and responsive or anticipatory rather than reactive) but we should never “change for change sake.”  Before running where brave men refuse to walk we should ask WHY we wish to move, WHAT we plan to do upon arrival and HOW those actions, thoughts or attitudes will be different than the ones we chose to leave behind.  People cannot be “something different” by simply changing their environment – they must change who and what they are (along with where they choose
to exist) if a “fresh start” is to occur.  We must be unafraid to be different - to stand out from the crowd - if we seek to initiate change.  A change in perspective allows for the creation of new thoughts, concepts and processes while a change of environment only provides new grounds upon which old ideas can be planted.

Change does not come easily – we must intentionally invest ourselves if different results are expected – results that cannot occur if we are doing things the same way we always have done them (even if it might be in a different location).  Words describe what one wishes to accomplish - actions (and results) define success.