The Employers' Association
  An E-newsletter for TEA Members
TopJuly 13, 2017 Volume 37, Issue 10
In This Issue
Upcoming Programs

Be sure to register early to receive early bird pricing for these program.


19 - MIOSHA Part 21 -
       Powered Industrial
20 - Core Leadership Skills
Late Summer Term 
21 - CPR Certification & First
25 - Assertive
       Communication -
       Saying it with Tact
25 - Conflict Management
       Skills Certificate series
26 - HR Basics: A
       Compliance Overview


  2 - Affirmative Action
  8 - MIOSHA General
       Industry Ten Hour+
15 - Turning Confrontation
       into Conversation
16 - HR Policy Writing &
       Handbook Development
18 - CPR Re-certification &
       First Aid
18 - Bloodborne Pathogens
22  - Make Change Work
       - NEW
23 - Leading a Team, 'Like a
       Boss' - NEW
24 - Workplace Inclusion for
25 - Employee Engagement:
       How to Motivate Your
29 - Effective
       Communication Skills
29 - Communication Skills
       Certificate begins
30 - Fundamentals of FMLA

Click on dates for more details & registration.

View the full July - December 2017 schedule on our website here or print the quarterly training flyer here.

If you are interested in a program not currently scheduled, email  Penny  to be added to our future registration list.
Summer/Fall Conflict Management Skills Certificate Series

Learn specific tools for working with difficult situations at work and home.

First class begins 7/25/17

This program provides the participants with the tools to work with resistance, conflict in the workplace and different personalities. It is designed to assist the participant in recognition of different conflicting situations and apply alternative tools to address the conflict.

How it Works:
Complete three (3) half day conflict management skills seminars of your choice, in addition to the one (1) required seminar, within 12 months to earn the Conflict Management Skills Certificate. 

Any of the Conflict Management Skills seminars can be taken alone without enrolling in the certificate program.

Last Chance


HRG / TEA Golf Outing
Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Golf Club at Thornapple Pointe

Join us for networking, fundraising and golf! This is the primary event to support the HRG Chapter of SHRM and the SHRM Foundation, with participants that include HR professionals, coworkers, customers, clients and friends.  We look forward to seeing you there!

More details and registration
President Dave Smith
From the President - Dealing with Difficult People
by David Smith, CEO & President

Most individuals look at another's "positives" and "negatives" when determining their value, what they contribute and how patient they should be if a disagreement or "issue" arises.  As long as an individual contributes more good than bad, we will probably appear to be relatively tolerant and encouraging in whatever they try to do (even if we may be frustrated at the pace of their work or the number of decisions they are able to make).  We tend to focus on the results that are achieved rather than on recognition we receive so working with another to help them arrive at an acceptable conclusion is usually tolerable (as long as the objective is accomplished).  Some people, however, would think, act and potentially respond selfishly, loudly, abrasively or in a disruptive manner that becomes difficult for even the most understanding, forgiving and considerate person to overcome.

Difficult people like to speak their mind and get their way.  They do not like to be told "no" EVEN IF there is a solid, rationale reason (and if the reason is not their own, they will probably not accept it easily).  Their contributions to the whole are often minimized by a general lack of acceptance (a group does not like a cocky know-it-all or one whom never gives recognition to others) regardless how valuable the contribution.  Difficult people tend to talk more than they listen, to act more than they refrain, and to cover their own inadequacies (rather than trying to "fix them") by dwelling upon the shortcomings of others (so their own issues are not so bad).  They tend to be argumentative - talking over (rather than to or with) those around them - perfectly willing to wear others down to get their own way rather than discussing alternatives that might actually produce a better result.  Rather than continuously raising their own level of performance, difficult people tend to establish themselves as the "bar" which cannot be exceeded - attempting to keep others below this target by diminishing their character and minimizing their ability to contribute by openly negating any suggestions they might advance.  Difficult people focus on themselves and their own actions, feelings, or ways of doing things - often losing sight of common goals or reaching shared visionary destinations.

When dealing with difficult people (and their behavior), most people will take the easy way out by:
  • Ignoring them - or at least showing little interest or attention - hoping they will go away
  • Minimizing conflict by listening to them with no intention to act on what is said
  • Avoiding even casual interactions with them whenever possible (covertly OR overtly)
  • Resisting until beaten down enough that doing things their way is easier than arguing, OR
  • Worrying themselves sick about the problem (essentially paralyzing their ability to act independently)
Rather than addressing the unacceptable behavior or intolerable issue, people find it much easier to close their eyes, ears and mouths than to act.  By avoiding the obvious - escaping into an internal "safe place" that causes others to suffer with us when we ignore the pain and accept the results - we do not resolve the issue of coexisting with difficult people, we simply hide it (hoping it will go away on its own or be "fixed" by someone else).  To effectively deal with difficult people (so that they might become contributors rather than disrupters), we must:
  • Listen to those speaking (rather than ignoring them) to identify their true strengths, abilities and/or talents - particularly those masked by an abrasive personality or an unbending personal resolve.
  • Identify a common (firm, valid and necessary) goal, talk about how we are going to get there, discuss what road signs we should see along the way that would validate our direction, and define both rewards (for appropriate action) AND consequences (should the path less acceptable be taken) that WILL happen based on progress and results.
  • Diffuse the sense of "personal superiority" by acknowledging ONLY the REAL STRENGTHS and CONTRIBUTIONS of EACH INDIVIDUAL with whom you deal - showing no favoritism or prejudice - striving to slowly instill AT LEAST passive acceptance of others.
  • Find (and publicly acknowledge) the positives ALL people contribute.
  • Acknowledge (but minimize and provide ways to improve or eliminate) the negatives that negative behavior can create.
  • Speak more in generalities than specifics.  Difficult people LOVE to argue points that demonstrate their superiority.  Focus more on CONCEPTS than facts - more on OUTCOMES than methods or processes - to diffuse (rather than escalate) a difficult conversation.
  • Assign ownership to objectives and the actions that must be taken to accomplish them THEN establish (clearly and concisely) who is in charge, who is responsible and what rewards (or consequences) will result from completion (or failure) of the task - NOT who will be blamed for lack of progress or receive credit for results.
  • Establish ONLY consequences you are willing to administer.  Never say "you will or will not do something OR ELSE" unless you are willing to DO whatever the "or else" was that you promised as a consequence to the undesirable action.  Making hollow threats and conditions minimizes your credibility and ability to manage, tarnishes the respect others have for you AND feeds the difficult person's own inflated sense of self-worth.
We all face situations in which people we work with are more (or less) difficult than others.  Moving forward together, maximizing the strengths that different people bring to the mix while minimizing the weaknesses that are bound to surface (within all of us), allows us to perpetuate success.  Effective personal relationships and fully functioning teams share a common bond - both must identify a common goal, create a single focus, develop processes or actions that can be monitored and maintained, clearly define expectations that can be measured AND (perhaps most importantly) establish who has the authority and responsibility to monitor actions, provide oversight and address deficiencies.  Taking the path of least resistance when dealing with a difficult person OR a recurring problem can make our "here and now" relatively peaceful BUT ignoring the negatives a situation or individual creates through their unresolved (unaddressed and therefore seemingly acceptable) bad behavior of others can make even the most agreeable people in our lives difficult to work with.  The Association offers mentoring, coaching and training to help individuals work through difficult situations and with difficult people.  Give us a call or contact Jason ( j ) to learn more about how we can help.

You may also consider enrolling for our seminar, Dealing with Difficult People: Learning to Respond vs. React, on December 13, 2017 and learn how to respond appropriately when interacting with "difficult people".

Visit our BLOG ( Dave's Deliberations) to view  recent posts.
Welcome New Members

The new members listed below represent employers within the West Michigan area who have joined the ranks of those committed to strong, positive employee/employer relations. It is a pleasure to welcome these new members into our family.

*Fleetwood Group, Inc.
*Intex Technologies
New TEA Website Reminders
  • One login - this is your personal login (username = your email address.  If you do not know your password, click "forgot password" to have it reset).
    • Login can be done from the top of our homepage, or when prompted.
    • To view your personal TEA account page, click on your name at the top of the website.
  • TEA Company Administrators only - your login will give you access to your company account page to make edits, view history of paid invoices, or pay open invoices/membership dues with a credit card.  Please do not share your login information.
  • All Member Contacts (with login/TEA account) can access their account page, register for events and purchase any products, however, only the designated person from your organization can view survey reports.  Your login will also give you access to "members only" content pages, such as our Partnership listing, Member companies, archived newsletters etc...
Please visit our new website,, and view the resources available to you.  Contact us at 616.698.1167 if you have any questions.
Need Information Technology Support...

...but afraid you cannot afford it on a full-time basis?  Worried about hackers and ransomware threats?  Not sure of the best way to embrace technology without hiring a team of professionals to maintain your systems and protect your assets?  We are working with TEA Partner, Trivalent Group, to develop a SHARED INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY SUPPORT GROUP to provide an economical technology assessment (to identify current risks and potential threats within your systems) and access to data support specialists on a "shared" basis with other members (to help defray the cost of having a full-time professional).  This concept is in its developmental stages so we would like to know if you would be interested in joining such a group and, if so, what you would need (or want) a shared support team to provide.  Please give Dave Smith a call (616.698.1167) or send an e-mail ( to let us know your thoughts, share your needs and begin working together to protect your vital computer systems and infrastructure.
The Role of Human Resources is Unique and Important
by Ron Scott, SPHR, Director of Member Engagement

The Human Resources Manager is usually the only person in the organization with this title and responsibility.  He or she is uniquely positioned to be a resource for management and an advocate for all of the employees.  This is the only position that can be neutral on issues but instrumental in representing different sides of decisions - leading all parties to a mutually beneficial position without dictating an "ultimate solution" that would advance one party or the other.  An effective HR Professional must be involved and engaged with the leaders of the organization AND consistent, fair and reasonable when working with employees.

One of the most challenging issues an HR Manager must avoid is being seen as a compliance officer or an expense to the organization providing no return on investment.  A successful Human Resources Manager must:
  1. Be Strategically Involved:  If the HR Manager can participate in the hiring, resource allocation and organizational management decisions, they have a better opportunity to impact the bottom line.  In order to contribute effectively, HR must learn the jobs that are being done, the culture of the organization and the potential growth each position may hold.  Without this knowledge it is nearly impossible to be anything more than a "resume screener" or record keeper within the organization.  If this is not an opportunity, HR needs to demonstrate the value that can be contributed by impacting the cost of doing business (turnover, benefits, lack of training or competitive wages) to the management team.
  2. Be involved with all levels of leadership:  HR can be an important resources for all levels of management.  Providing the guidance for compliance, information for development and ideas for collaboration is a resource needed throughout the leadership team.  While front line leaders may interact more frequently with Human Resources, a successful professional must be ready to assist Top Management, often stepping forward without being asked, in order to become essential.
  3. Be Intentional:  When the organization wants to make a change in a policy or practice, a respected HR professional can be the catalyst to make the change work for everyone. For example: If the organization wants to change the 401(k) provider, benefit provider or move payroll from weekly to bi-weekly, HR should be able to provide reasons that the change is beneficial then must steer the change so that individuals feel the least amount of pain AND no one individual (or class of individuals) is negatively impacted.
  4. Be Available:  One of the most important aspects of HR, if available and open to interruption, the rest of the organization will benefit from the resource.  Many times the issues that come to HR are confidential and/or sensitive so discussions are often "behind closed doors."  Ineffective HR Professionals sometimes tend to leave the door closed when the meeting has concluded - effectively shutting out others seeking to speak.  I encourage you to leave it open (establish a true "open door policy" to foster communication) AND make time to walk through the office and/or operations at least once a day (do not be a stranger to those you serve).
  5. Be the Model of Best Practices: In order to expect timely, Two-Way Communication between all employees, HR is in a position to lead the way by demonstrating it.  Speak openly and honestly so that people can know what to expect (and what is expected of them). Demonstrate to others how to work with different generations, genders and ethnicity through your own actions - people tend to do what they see rather than what they are told.
HR can and should be a catalyst for management decisions and policy implementation as well as an advocate for employees and the needs of all team members. It is important for the HR Professional to be engaged within the workforce, in maintaining corporate culture and "living the mission" in all that is said and done.  One cannot demonstrate this engagement if he or she is isolated in their role. It is critical that HR be seen as a person who understands the organization, its needs, its mission AND its most important resource - its people.  TEA has a Human Resources Skills Certificate program that covers these topics and many more. If interested, contact our Educational Services team at 616.698.1167 to discuss seminar options towards this certificate.

HR Budget Planning - It Is Not Too Early
by Maggie McPhee, SHRM-CP, PHR, Director of  Information Services

This is the time of year we start to get the questions about annual bonuses and what percent of an increase are companies going to grant for the next year.  TEA will be releasing its Annual Pay Adjustment Survey Questionnaire soon (keep an eye on your email).  This is a quick, short survey that asks three simple questions:
  • What did you project (or anticipate) as a pay increases last year
  • What did you actually end up (on average) giving, and
  • What do you, on average, anticipate your payroll to be adjusted this coming year.
In order to provide you with effective benchmark information, TEA's 2017-2018 Annual Wage & Salary Survey questionnaire will be released right after Labor Day.  According to last year's survey, seventy four percent of respondents have implemented a bonus/variable pay program within their organization.  "Annual Bonus" ranks as the most common type of variable pay provided to exempt employees (43% of responses) followed by profit sharing at 36%.  This is an increase of 5% from the previous year for annual bonuses and 4% for profit sharing.
Non-exempt employees also seem to have more of their total compensation "at risk" (nearly 33% receive an annual bonus and 35% receive additional compensation based on a profit-sharing formula).  Remaining competitive with base compensation (available within our Survey Reports released in early November) helps organizations attract talent.  Developing bonus systems that allow employees to share in the profitability and efficiency of an organization helps to retain them once employed.
Organizational profits and productivity remain the two top factors that influence bonus/variable payouts and we ask that YOU help US provide you with the solid data needed for compensation planning.  If you have any questions or wish us to consider surveying additional positions, please contact Maggie McPhee at 616.698.1167 or .  We are here to help - and seek your engagement to help us serve you better .
Inclusion is Essential
by Jason Reep , SPHR, Director of Learning & Inclusion

Employees do not perform at their highest level if they feel like an outsider.  Gone are the days when (most) people dealt with anything that was given to them and suffered in silence.  Employees will leave jobs if they feel like they are mistreated - that crosses most age groups in the current workforce (with the possible exception of those close to retirement).  Many will also leave if they feel they are not appreciated.  Today's job market makes it even easier to leave a job and find another.  The social contract has been lost between employee/employer in many organizations.

Many employers feel there is little more than pay/benefits to attract, motivate, and retain employees.  The truth is that increasing pay/benefits is a short-term fix - it MIGHT help to attract employees but does very little to retain them.  At the core of employee engagement, development and retention, recruitment, marketing, community relations, etc. (typically defined as "corporate culture") is whether people feel like they belong.  It is hard to be engaged if you feel like you are not welcome.  When employees cannot see other successful employees like them in the upper ranks of the organization they may not feel encouraged to stay with the organization or take the chance to be the "first one" (this crosses age, race, sex, disability, etc.).  Organizations have a hard time recruiting new employees if the workplace is known to be exclusive or appears to favor a specific type of employee.  Marketing and building strong community relations can be a challenge for organizations who do not reach out and understand the vast array of businesses and community members.  It is important to recognize, however, that reaching out DOES NOT mean changing or diminishing standards or expectations - it simply means looking in different places, accepting different ways of doing things and potentially communicating in different ways (that will actually benefit the entire workforce).

It points to the fact that it is difficult to be a successful employer if talking about the importance of your organization's culture is avoided - specifically if it is not an inclusive culture that invites and welcomes the diversity of the larger community.  There are a number of organizations that have done work to increase their diversity recruitment efforts and bring in more diverse employees across thinking styles, ethnicity, geographic locations, race, sexual orientation, age, etc. only to find those employees leaving after a year or two.  Why?  One significant reason is that while the organization had recruiters and others who worked hard to reach out and even build relationships, they did not internally prepare for cultural changes in the organization that would also need to occur to keep their newest non-traditional employees.  They lack the INCLUSION component of the Inclusion & Diversity partnership.  Many new employees will suggest that they did not feel welcomed or understood - while Management cannot seem to understand how that could that be when they were seemingly treated like everyone else and no one made a big deal about them being "different."

It is important to look at all aspects of the organization to see what might cause employees to feel like an "other."  What gets in the way of employees feeling like they are belong or are a valued member of the organization?  Often it is not major opposition or discrimination but rather the accumulation of smaller and more subtle factors that cause people to feel they are not fully seen, recognized or valued.  What does your holiday schedule look like?  How about your dress code?  Do you play certain music in parts of the organization or have pictures lining the walls that do not represent all of your workforce?  When you sponsor company events, do you consider where it is held?  What do your policies and code of ethics say about how people are treated?  Are they adhered to?  Do you ask for and consider the ideas of all employee groups?  There are many ways that organizations can work toward ensuring that no one feels invisible or cannot bring their full self (thoughts and ideas) to work.

TEA is excited to offer a new option to help members capitalize on the value of diversity.  We are launching an Inclusion & Diversity Round Table beginning in August .  This Round Table is a benefit to Association members interested in enhancing their organizational work done regarding workplace Inclusion & Diversity (i.e. generational, personality, socio-economics, racial, language, abilities, etc.).  It will meet monthly (except for July) to network and discuss emerging business trends in I&D as well as current concerns for Round Table participants.  The meeting discussions will be driven by the participants based on their needs and interests and is intended to provide a balance between strategic work and resolving new, or existing, challenges.  The benefits of participation include:
  • Sharing with, and learning from, other leaders in multiple industries
  • Identifying I&D approaches that have been successful in West Michigan businesses
  • Building relationships with others who have a business interest in Inclusion & Diversity
  • Collaborating with others to address issues affecting many organizations (and the community in which we live and work)
The Inclusion & Diversity Round Table will be held on the 2nd Thursday of each month (May through April - No July meeting) from 7:30 am - 9:00 am at TEA offices (breakfast provided).  The Round Table will be facilitated by an Inclusion & Diversity/HR expert.  TEA Members can participate in their first Round Table meeting at no cost.  This season's remaining dates are:
  • August 10
  • September 14
  • October 12
  • November 9
  • December 14
  • January 11
  • February 8
  • March 8
  • April 12
The cost for the full season (May - April) is $225 and is prorated based on the month in which you join.  To participate in the August meeting at no charge, or have any questions about Inclusion & Diversity in your workplace, contact Jason Reep at 616-698-1167 or .

Faking It: Can Job Applicants 'Outsmart' Personality Tests?
by Rob Strate, SPHR, Director of HR Services

One of TEA's regular users of a personality test called the New Workforce Inventory (NWI) called me recently about a candidate who had scored extremely well on the test but had the following caution noted in the test report:  "The applicant may not have responded to questions in a forthright and realistic manner."  The NWI, like other personality assessments TEA offers such as the Customer Service Occupational Solution and Sales Achievement Predictor, has a so-called "test deception detection" system designed to identify attempts to give "correct" answers - what the test taker believes the employer wants to hear - rather than answering consistently and without over emphasis on positive or negative responses.

Personality tests typically repeat the same questions or statements, worded differently to catch untruthful answers. For example, answering yes to both "I have never stolen one thing in my life" and "I once took office supplies home without permission" signals dishonesty to the employer.  Also, questions or statements that indicate common but socially undesirable behaviors are used to trip up test takers.  A candidate that agrees with "I have never been jealous of another person," would raise a red flag since jealousy is a common emotion experienced by most people and the answer would be the opposite of typical human behavior.

After discussing the test results with the company owner in the above situation, it was decided that the candidate be notified about the inconclusive test results and give him an opportunity to re-take the test with a reminder that there are no "right or wrong" answers and to respond "openly and honestly."  The results of the second test bore little resemblance to the first.  For example, one of the personality dimensions measured by the NWI is "Conscientiousness," and on the first test, the candidate scored in the 98th percentile compared to thousands of others who have taken the assessment.  On the second test, the candidate scored in the 14th percentile.  Two of the components that make up the Conscientiousness dimension are Work Ethic and Energy. On the first test, the candidate scored in the 90th percentile for Work Ethic and in the 100th percentile for Energy. For the second test, Work Ethic was in the 8th percentile and Energy was in the 1st percentile!  Startlingly different results also were seen with the other test dimensions that include Customer Service Orientation, Teamwork Orientation, Flexibility/Adaptability, Openness to Learning and Innovation.

Interestingly, the candidate mentioned above sent an email to the company president shortly after re-taking the NWI and informed him that he had taken a position with another company. It's probably safe to assume that the other company does not see the value of pre-employment assessments in their candidate screening process.  And for those organizations that do see the value, getting the most from their investment requires becoming skilled in test interpretation, a service that TEA offers to anyone needing assistance in fully understanding test results.

For more information on the extensive array of employment assessments offered by TEA and for free sample test reports, email Rob Strate ( or visit our website's Employment Testing Services.

This newsletter is published at 5570 Executive Parkway SE, Grand Rapids, Michigan as a general information service to all members and offers data from many sources. It is not designed to render legal advice or opinion. Such advice may only be given when related to actual situations. Our staff can assist you in interpreting and applying this information to your needs.  For questions or replies to this newsletter, email .  
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