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, June 22, 2015


Management is the ability to transform one person’s talents into performance.  Good managers identify each individual’s unique talents and abilities.  They treat people EQUITABLY rather than EQUALLY – determining what is best for them based on their abilities and how they can contribute most rather than assuming all should receive equal benefits even if they do not add similar value.  Good managers define and communicate expectations, then assign tasks to persons having the greatest potential for success – giving them the ability to act independently and the right to assume responsibility for results. 

Experienced managers leverage individual talent and experience towards the successful accomplishment of organizational goals and objectives – identifying existing abilities and maximizing contributions by assigning duties and managing priorities RATHER THAN focusing on training individuals to “fix” their shortcomings.  While training is critical and often necessary, it should not be seen as the “ends” but rather as the “means.” Recognizing that all employees contribute differently, and accepting that individual contributions are a necessary part of success, helps to define a great manager.  A good manager might try to elevate all employees to their highest potential.  A great manager will utilize an employee’s inherent ability to accomplish great things.  Should employees need additional training, a great manager will know how each employee learns best and set up programs that cater to individual needs and differences. 

Leadership is moving people (as opposed to individuals) towards a common good – rallying the team to accomplish great things together rather than capitalizing on an individual’s existing talent.  A leader needs to be eternally optimistic – knowing that people working together will eventually accomplish things better and more easily than those working alone.  Great leaders make employees feel that anything is possible – that no mountain is too high to climb and no valley too deep to enter – by “showing the way” rather than providing tools for them to move forward by themselves.  Leaders demonstrate what must be done and accomplished rather than by telling them and staying out of the way. 

Leaders motivate through actions rather than through words and assignments as they join in to make sure the team accomplishes things as a cohesive and collaborative body rather than as a group of talented individuals.  Great leaders communicate clearly by defining expectations and focusing on anticipated results as they motivate individuals to work with others to maximize the impact of their group’s efforts.  Leaders live their words through their actions.  Effective leaders are able to identify individual potential that can be nurtured and melded into a great functioning team.  Should a team need additional training, great leaders would develop programs to teach skills that will benefit the organization rather than strengthening individual talents that already exist within the team.

Are you a Manager or a Leader?  Far too often we see problems caused by well-intentioned supervisors managing when they should lead OR trying to lead when times call for strong management.  A strong MANAGER tends to accomplish specific things more quickly.  Tasks are clearly identified, people having proven abilities are assigned to accomplish them, and results are expected immediately.  A strong LEADER will pull others towards outcomes rather than pushing them towards pre-defined destinations.  A leader will draw others forward using a carrot while a manager may tend to carry (and liberally apply) a stick.  Both styles are necessary (at times) in order for organizations (OR relationships) to thrive BUT there is a time and a place for each.  Choose your “time and place” wisely to help maximize the results your group can achieve!