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, February 25, 2016


Today’s world is afloat with facts, data and information yet it seems that problem-solving skills are slipping through our hands like water. We read newspapers (sometimes), watch news (occasionally), page through magazines (when available) and check out our electronic resources (constantly) – knowing what is happening (almost before it happens) throughout the world – yet little time is devoted to “why” the “what” happened.  When we are provided with all we ever might need to know about situations, however, without the need (or opportunity) to form our own opinions, we have difficulty trying to apply our knowledge to unrelated circumstances.  Our senses seem overly stimulated by details, information and opportunities to the point that we do not feel the need to fully identify issues before moving forward with (in hindsight) untenable solutions. We run before we walk – seemingly oblivious to the fact we might fall or cause great harm if we rush to a place where others might know better than to wander – our impatience ruling the day. We choose to ignore the fact others have come before us – relegating their experiences (both wins and losses) to a silent history of the past rather than including their insights into our ongoing thought processes as we look ahead to that which has not yet come to fruition.

Many can memorize facts that might be applied to resolve recurring situations but far too few can ask the “right questions” that would allow for the formation of a “best” solution when presented with a new challenge. We often seek answers before fully formulating a question – wanting a resolution NOW without a moment’s hesitation. We want to be entertained (rather than informed), agreed with (rather than challenged) and given what we feel is appropriate (rather than identifying the needs of and providing for others).  We pursue the impossible (or at least the improbable) rather than finding comfort in the reality of “what is” and extrapolating it into that which has not yet become – far too often leaping ahead to what might seem to be the obvious conclusion without thought or direction rather than moving intentionally (and thoughtfully) forward after identifying the root cause of a problem considering all possible solutions.

It really does not matter which path you take when you are lost – if you know not to where you are going nor from what you are moving, any progress is better than no movement at all.  In order to transform knowledge into wisdom – to apply what we know towards the resolution of our concerns, challenges and difficulties – we must take the time to analyze the information around us prior to acting.  In order to make decisions count we must anticipate our potential destination(s) before moving from one situation to another – we must plan where we want to be before leaping from the frying pan into the fire. While it is true that one rarely fails if they do not establish goals, success hinges upon the creation and attainment of targets so we can recognize when we have accomplished our individual dreams (or recognize when we have simply moved forward towards the fulfillment of a goal without yet coming to a full resolution). It is nearly impossible to make a poor choice or move in the “wrong direction” when one does not care where they are going nor worry about how they will get there.  Little credit, however, can be taken (or praise given) for unanticipated results generated through unplanned actions, unexpected resolutions or unrepeatable processes. 

Discretion was once the rule – it is now an exception to the rule. Integrity was once an integral part of an individual’s make-up – it is now but an insignificant backdrop to life’s everyday drama. Relationships once rooted in honesty now seem built upon circumstance and fed by individual desires. It seems that the application of information to create a viable solution – taking the risk required to make a difference by thinking and acting in a uniquely individual manner – is no longer a socially acceptable approach.  Impatience and intolerance have become the driving factors in “effective” communication as we strive to achieve self-advancing results – the analysis of data and deliberate actions once used to guide those decisions but afterthoughts in the creation of everyday reality.  In order to gain credibility (and respect) we must recognize and understand the values, likes, dislikes, preferences, abilities (and inabilities), strengths and weaknesses of others, encouraging them (and incorporating their ideas) into our everyday activities.

In order to leverage our knowledge into results – to transform our learning into wisdom – we must study, learn and apply before charging headlong into an appointment with disaster. When you analyze the information around you and apply it to your circumstances, you will be able to leverage your knowledge to make wise decisions rather than blindly following the thoughts, suggestions or considerations of others.  Look ahead to avoid the obstacles in your path rather than behind at what has already been accomplished – for studying what has happened in the past might prevent history from repeating itself but that, in and of itself, will not provide alternative courses of action that might change the course of history.  Seek not what others can do for you but rather what you can do with the knowledge you have attained.  Choose to apply what you have learned as you act intentionally to initiate change – to alter what will be by leveraging your understanding of what has been – and you will experience transformational change leading to success you never thought possible.