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 11, 2014


Great leaders develop practices and communicate expectations that allow them to manage fairly and consistently as they motivate people to contribute their proportionate share towards the success of the team or the stability of relationships.  Unfortunately, there are many insecure and unprepared leaders seeking to claim all of the “gain” while accepting none of the “blame.”  The road to success is not a highway built by a single individual – rather it is a precarious path paved with the sacrifice and hard work of a team allowing individuals to share both setbacks and successes as they grow together towards the accomplishment of a goal.

We maximize the potential for success when a group develops and discusses mutually beneficial objectives then takes the actions necessary to bring them to fruition (leveraging their strengths while compensating for their individual deficiencies).  Poorly thought-out initiatives, reactions without consideration of repercussions and a general misdirection of otherwise worthwhile effort will result in failure.  A successful leader determines a direction, communicates a potential course of action then monitors progress – stepping in to redirect effort only when necessary.  In order to accomplish much with others, a leader must:
  • BE ACTIVELY ENGAGED IN BUILDING APPROPRIATE RELATIONSHIPS.  Successful leaders are actively involved in making the decisions that affect themselves, those around them and/or their families.  Poor leaders often allow others to direct their actions (then complain when things do not progress as they might have wished).  Good leaders make decisions then move forward while monitoring progress so a detour does not become a dead end.  Poor leaders lose track of the “big picture” while making isolated decisions – tending to live within silos rather than on an operational farm.  While a stated objective becomes our final destination, the relationships and decisions we make build the path upon which we will travel.  How you lead (or relate to others) ultimately determines whom you lead (or are in relationship with).
  • DELEGATE RESPONSIBILITY AND AUTHORITY TO THOSE AROUND YOU.  Good leaders analyze strengths when assigning projects to maximize the potential for successful resolution – they recognize what others can (and cannot) do, then work within those parameters to optimize the chances of success.  If an individual has the ability to perform a task, knows when it must be completed, and is not overloaded with interfering assignments, much will be accomplished IF the leader avoids micro-managing activities while remaining available for questions and monitoring progress.  Individuals must have the desire and feel the need to contribute – must feel empowered to identify alternative actions and enabled to act independently – before they will risk failure (or taste success).
  • ACCEPT THAT FAILURE IS AN EXCELLENT TEACHING TOOL.  Far too many leaders feel that “winning at any cost” is the only way to be successful.  While winning more often than not is desirable, if an individual never makes a mistake he or she will not know how to deal with adversity.  Repeated failure should never be tolerated but if an individual can learn from a mistake – which is not dangerous, destructive or damaging to the organization’s (or the individual’s) reputation or ability to perform – embrace the shortcoming (rather than hiding it) and move beyond it (rather than dwelling within it).
  • DEAL WITH ISSUES PROMPTLY AND APPROPRIATELY.  If something needs correcting and discipline is required, administer it specifically and immediately.  If an individual does something exceptionally well, celebrate as soon as possible.  It is important to stop (or clone) the behavior rather than avoiding or ignoring it.  Address and discuss issues that bother you BEFORE they become insurmountable.  One will not create mutually beneficial relationships if “everything is always wrong” and “nothing is ever right” in the actions, attitudes or behaviors of others.  Focus on modifying the behavior to achieve different results rather than addressing the individual and expecting personality change. 
Good leaders publicly celebrate success loudly while privately whispering (specifically and directly) about
failure.  They analyze themselves to identify their strengths (which they leverage towards a common good) and their weaknesses (which they work hard to strengthen OR minimize by leveraging another’s gifts).  A good leader may or may not be “a friend,” but must ALWAYS be seen as fair and consistent.  We must establish decision-making skills that allow us to act in a predictable and reasonable manner if we wish to become effective – which, if done by example rather than through edict – will allow us to accomplish great things with others.