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!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

EMBRACING CHANGE


Their aimless wanderings lay behind them…
Their paths weaving desperately through the wilderness…
Coming near then veering away…never quite crossing or becoming one. 
They stood at a crossroads…
Looking back in an attempt to see how their lives had unfolded...
Looking ahead towards a future not yet defined.
   Increasingly tired of their struggles within a thankless world…
They sought a path that would lead towards truth…
An obscure trail that would carry them to a brighter future... 
Deliberately they turned, moving forward into the vast unknown…
Leaving behind the comfort and security their past once held…
Intentionally embarking upon a path that would change their lives forever…
                                                                           An excerpt from “Life’s Path To The Promise of A Dream” by Dave Smith 

Why do people seek change?  What makes us decide to do things differently – particularly if the things we are doing provide us comfort or bring us success?  What makes us wander from “the familiar” in search of unknown opportunities?   With summer’s passing and a new, hectic fall upon us, we all tend to seek different ways of doing things - resolving to change in ways that will allow us more free time, success or tangible rewards.  Several factors must be recognized, however, if we wish to move beyond our current station in life – beginning with the deliberate consideration of an intentional action that, when taken, will forever change where we are as it redefines where we are going (one cannot do the same things they’ve always done and expect different results).

Everyone desires success (though success cannot be granted to another for we all define it differently).  Far too often, however, success breeds arrogance, which leads to complacency.  If we ride a single success beyond its effective lifespan…thinking “our way” is the only way…someone else will either assume our market share (by improving upon what we do), force us to change (by revealing the shortcomings of our established approach), or disrupt our stagnant but comfortable existence (by offering a more exciting option).  We must actively appraise the things we do…both in our work and our personal relationships…if we wish to remain vibrant and relevant.  By continuously analyzing our strengths and weaknesses, identifying those that hold us back and enhancing those that pull us forward, we will remain effective.  Recognizing that the only constant in life is change will allow us to accept the possibility of failure (and the learning it brings).  Success does not come, however, from frantic movement without direction or purpose - we must occasionally stop what we are doing so we can start something else!

To initiate change one, three major issues must be intentionally and consciously addressed:

  • We must acknowledge where we have been, recognize what we have done, and wish to be something different before we can start travelling upon a new path.  How can we better serve our customers?  What can we do to improve a relationship?  Must we alter our behavior so that we can remain relevant within a changing world?  Whenever we recognize our goals have changed we must step from our original path onto one that will refocus and redirect our efforts.
  • We must stop doing the things we are doing – that we have always done – no matter how effective they may have been in the past.  While identifying what must be done to create meaningful change, paths (and methods) needing abandonment will inevitably be revealed.  Can a workforce that values time off from work be effectively disciplined with suspension?  Can an individual communicate effectively without embracing technology and learning how to “entertain” using Power Point?  Can two people maintain a meaningful relationship if neither is willing to see two sunsets in the other’s moccasins?
  • As we identify and abandon the things that hold us back we must continue doing things that produce positive growth and change.  We all have personal strengths…characteristics responsible for the success we have experienced.  Everyone can celebrate a “peak of accomplishment” in their past.  Far too many of us, however, choose to dwell within the quiet valleys while gazing up (and establishing value) on past accomplishments.  In order to realize meaningful change we should continue doing the things that brought us to our heights…and discard those that brought us to our knees.
People must change more than their outward appearance if they expect their path to shift significantly.  We often hear about “new and improved” products only to find nothing but the packaging has changed.  Television networks frequently move a failing show from one night to another in order to gain viewers from a less competitive offering.  If we are resolved to change we must consciously decide NOT to “stay the course” by innovatively clearing a new path into an unknown wilderness.  We must acknowledge our past (both the wins and the losses) before we can define our present (from which we must move forward) if we harbor any expectation of creating a different future. 

A change in season often triggers a desire to alter our behavior and move forward to a more promising future.  In order to accomplish change it is important that we continually take stock of what we are doing and where we are going – then actively seek paths that will lead us from complacency to new destinations, new relationships and new opportunities – within this earth we call “home.”