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!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


Every relationship has its own unique and individual characteristics that makes it work well.  When a person becomes involved within any relationship – be it a working or a personal commitment – he or she begins to look for the underlying culture of trust and respect that has been established (or can be developed) as both a confirmation of their decision to participate or an indicator of their choice to leave.  The actions and behaviors of those in leadership create a corporate culture (the efforts and beliefs of employees working within the organization help it grow to maturity) much like each participant within a relationship offers input when choosing which road should be taken (the final selection being influenced by the degree of trust that has been established within the relationship).
High Trust organizations (and relationships) share characteristics that lend themselves to a higher level of productivity, efficiency, personal investment and effectiveness because they believe that trusting others to do the work with little or no oversight does not “negatively impact” the achievement of established goals. 
High Trust Relationships are:
·       More productive and efficient because they need less layers of management or redundancy. Projects, assignments or the resolution of situations can be given freely to others because a high level of trust has been established that provides confidence the work will be done (correctly).
·       Cost effective because fewer follow-up meetings and discussions are required so individuals can “actively supervise” less while expecting (and receiving) independently generated results.
·       Dependent upon open and honest communication allowing for two-way suggestions, clarifications, input and advise.  If one party within the relationship begins to feel “left behind” by the conversation or ignored when choosing the resolution of a problem, he or she will begin to “do what they are told.”  Rather than becoming a vital part of the solution they begin to be an extension of the problem.
·       Celebratory to the work (and accomplishments) of others.  They look for and find the “positive” accomplishments of others and build upon what is being done well rather than focusing on the “negative” of what went wrong or was not done correctly.
·       Accepting of others.  They let go of the need to control with the understanding that mistakes happen and learning occurs.  The DO NOT allow others to continue to make the same error continuously without modifying the behavior that caused the problem.  Trust must not be confused with poor judgement.  High Trust Relationships provide for “walking beside” others rather than always clearing the way of obstacles so that detours or obstructions are never encountered.
·       Always seeking ways to improve outcomes by encouraging participation, engaging individual passions, leveraging abilities and rewarding positive contributions.  They solicit input from “the team” as a critical part of any effective solution – knowing that a good solution the team supports often produces better results than the best solution imposed by others.
High Trust relationships are value centered and rely on others to be open and honest about the status of their work and ideas.  They teach the importance of letting everyone own the results of expended effort (sharing in the rewards).  Most formally (or informally) assign a “leader” to monitor progress and help clear the way for effective decisions to be made but do not give that person the authority to impose his or her will in an unimpeded manner.  It is hard to convince a team that “we trust you have the best interest of the organization in mind” if we never allow its individual members to make decisions (or learn from failure).  
High Trust relationships clearly communicate that all individuals involved are responsible for the work that needs to be done, expected to speak up if barriers to getting results are encountered and accountable for the results achieved (accepting both the rewards of success and the need to respond and react to failure).  Trust cannot be established within any relationship until we are able to demonstrate (not just say) that we let go of the control most seek, give responsibility AND accountability to others (genuinely seeking the thoughts, ideas and opinions of others before moving in a new direction or changing a well-accepted process.  Unless (and until) we are able to trust others we cannot expect to be fully and unconditionally trusted by others.
Trust is difficult to attain (but easy to lose and sometimes almost impossible to recover).  Trust cannot be claimed – it must be earned.  Trust is not a “nice-ity” within a relationship – it is a necessity.  It is not an objective or a destination but rather a path and a process.  In order to effectively move towards a high trust relationship we must increase communications (both verbally in our “saying” and passively in our “active listening”), discuss openly the things we often consider privately when making significant decisions that impact others and clarify our expectations (someone CANNOT be trusted to do something if they do not know what needs to be done).  In order to establish trust we must create more open doors (rather than closing ourselves within an impenetrable fortress) and open more windows (so that questions can be asked AND heard) while providing (and accepting) any support that might be required to bring a concept to fruition.  Until we open ourselves to experience all that is around us as it contributes to the realization of our world, we will but view our surroundings rather than immersing ourselves in the dream of accomplishing all things possible.