The Employers' Association
  An E-newsletter for TEA Members
TopApril 20, 2017 Volume 37, Issue 6
In This Issue
Upcoming Programs

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

  1 - MIOSHA Construction
       10-Hour Course (2 Day)

  3 - Feedback Fundamentals
  4 - Introduction to

  5 - Core Leadership Skills

10 - MIOSHA Effective Safety
       and Health Training 

11Dealing with Difficult
       People: Learning to
       Respond vs React
12 - CPR Certification &
       First Aid  
15 - MIOSHA Construction -
       Part 45 Fall Protection
16 - Train the Trainer
       Techniques that Wow
18 - Core Leadership Skills
22 - 2017 Leadership/Human
       Resources Conference &
       Annual Meeting
24 - Workplace Bullies:
       How to Handle this
       Unprofessional Behavior

Click on the dates for more information or refer to our program schedule

Check our new website often to view our 2017 programs.  If you are interested in a program not currently scheduled, email  Penny  to be added to our future registration list.
Register Today

TEA's Leadership/HR Conference & Annual Meeting Luncheon


May 22, 2017
7:45 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Prince Conference Center at
Calvin College

The use of this seal confirms that this activity has met HR Certification Institute's® (HRCI®) criteria for recertification credit pre-approval.

Approved for 4 HR (General) recertification credit hours through HR Certification Institute® (HRCI®)
Mandatory Poster Change

Effective Immediately

 must post the updated Michigan Discrimination poster.
To purchase a new poster, click  here  or simply print the updated  MI Discrimination poster  and put it next to your current poster(s).
HRG May Meeting

Wait! Our Employees are Non-Union.  Why do I have an NLRB Case?

Presenter: Thomas Good, Resident Officer, National Labor Relations Board

May 18, 2017
Stonewater Country Club
7:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.

More details to follow
HRG / TEA Golf Outing


Wednesday, July 19, 2017
The Golf Club at Thornapple Pointe

Mark your calendars and watch for more details
President Dave Smith
From the President - Learn to Manage Change While Maintaining Corporate Values at TEA's Leadership & HR Conference
by David Smith, CEO & President

In order to experience a difference in our lives we must do things differently, seek alternate outcomes and move relentlessly forward by capitalizing upon our "wins" and learning from our mistakes. We must be aware, however, that change is not something that should happen "to us" but rather should be initiated "by us" for it to become meaningful in our personal lives.

A driving factor in change is success - an elevation of "where one is" to "where one should be." 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 alter our methods, thinking or processes (by revealing the shortcomings of our established approach), or disrupt our stagnant but comfortable existence (by offering a more exciting option). By continuously analyzing our strengths and weaknesses - identifying and changing those that hold us back while enhancing those that pull us forward - we will remain relevant. Success does not come from reactions to situations without direction or purpose. To initiate change, 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 (rather than expecting someone else to modify their behavior) to 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, and the alternative path we choose often requires us to increase our capacity to make decisions (training), expand our horizons (exposure to new thoughts and ideas) or learn from our mistakes (intentional experimentation). In order to create change we must NAVIGATE safe passage through the detours that other's hesitation may place before us by intentionally communicating to them in a manner that constructively initiates action and ensures engagement.

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 two people maintain a meaningful relationship if neither is willing to "walk a mile" in the other's shoes? Can we see another's perspective and incorporate different ideologies into our solutions without stepping asking others their opinions AND listening to what they say? If we hope to take control of our own destiny we must adapt to change and embrace the possibilities that it presents. We must control our EMOTIONS and leverage the EMOTIONS of those around us if we are to make intelligent decisions that create effective change.

As we identify and change the things that hold us back we must continue doing the things that produce positive growth. We all have personal strengths, resources, aptitudes and characteristics responsible for the successes we have experienced. Everyone can celebrate "peaks of accomplishment" in their past but far too many choose to dwell within the quiet valleys while gazing up towards their past accomplishments to establish their personal value. In order to realize meaningful change we should continue doing the things that brought us to our heights while discarding those that brought us to our knees. Particularly when expected to implement change initiated by others, we must identify how best to MOTIVATE individuals to move from the comfort of "what works" to the discomfort of "what might (but not guaranteed to) work better." We should never abandon everything we have done or are doing to initiate change or we may end up having nothing BUT unless we are willing to move forward we will never move from where we are.

This year's LEADERSHIP AND HUMAN RESOURCES CONFERENCE will be held on MAY 22, 2017 at the Prince Conference Center at Calvin College. The world is changing and all of you are being asked to initiate, implement or advance it. We have designed a program this year that will help Human Resource Professionals and Business Leaders navigate successfully through the hazards of change by recognizing the emotional needs of those being asked to change and motivating them to alter their decisions, actions and behaviors in a way that will benefit all stakeholders. Additionally, our ANNUAL BUSINESS MEETING keynote speaker will talk about maintaining Corporate Values and culture during change and succession. Do not miss this year's conference. In addition to great information and practical "take-aways," all participant will receive two books written and published by presenters. Check out the links above OR give us a call at 616.698.1167 to learn more.

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 TEA(M) .

Have you visited our new website yet?  We thank you for your patience during the transition and ask you to "pardon our dust" as we continue to update the site to its full capabilities throughout the next several months!

Changes you will notice:
  • 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 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.
Free Seminar from Trivalent Group

Join Trivalent Group on 
Wednesday, April 26th from 8:00am to 1:00pm at the Eberhard Center in Grand Rapids for their free West Michigan IT Vendor Roadshow!

More details & registration

Providing practical solutions to Human Resource-related issues BEFORE they escalate into legal problems.
Team Work Is Not Meant To Be Fun Or Frivolous
by Ron Scott, SPHR, Director of Member Engagement

Some organizations are trying different approaches to get higher quality and more efficiency from their operations.  Other organizations are looking for people to work better together and develop an appreciation for the different skill set within the operation.  Teams can help with both of the objectives mentioned above but, depending on which is emphasized, one may become the "driver" while the other becomes a secondary benefit.

Several key factors should be considered when establishing teams.
  1. The Makeup of the TEAM
    It is critical that the members of the team be selected intentionally around the objective the organization is striving to achieve.  There are a variety of instruments that highlight team member work-style preference. It would be ideal if you could put a team together with varying perspectives and work styles that can focus on the objective to be accomplished.   Unfortunately, that is not the norm, as many team are made up of people who agree with and "respect one another" rather than being honest and objective.
  2. Ability to Develop Trust
    One of the most important aspects of a team is the ability of each member to trust without having to verify the work and intentions of the other team members.  I use the HOTTC approach:
    • Honest (I have a question about the last comment you made at the meeting this morning.)
    • Open (I would like to hear your side of the argument.  It would help us all if we had the opportunity to speak into the situation.)
    • Timely (It is imperative to address an issue in one to two days. If we do not specifically address an issue, we run the risk to creating barriers.)
    • Two Way Communication (If possible, when there is a "heated" or frustrating situation, have a third person in the discussion who does not have a side in the argument.)
  3. Positive Conflict
    It is possible to have a robust discussion about a topic that matters to both parties without negative emotions or the labeling of ideas.  It is possible to have an Adult to Adult discussion of the options and alternatives and be able to accept the outcome.  We must only seek results rather than credit or praise to accomplish this part of the objective.
  4. Achievement
    The purpose of teams is to create a higher level of achievement and a higher quality outcome because of the input of the team members.  Many teams get sidetracked about the focus of the team and the intended results.  Starting, reminding and tracking achievement should be the cornerstone of any project for permanent team.
  5. Accountability
    A highly functioning team can hold each team member accountable for outcomes.  At the very least, the environment should be established that a member of the team is able to say they are not going to get their part completed on time without reprisal from the team, but an honest discussion about the stage the project is at and what needs to be done must take place in order to keep the project moving forward. Accountability is the highest form of respect for one another and should be the driving force behind all Open Honest Discussions throughout the process.
When teams are implemented with an intention of working together around a specific measurable outcome, the results can be rewarding for the team members and the organization.  Highly performing teams find a way to celebrate the accomplishments of each contributor along the way while focusing on the overall objective defined prior to initiating the team.  I would encourage you to start with a small team around a specific project having clearly defined outcomes and timelines.  Ask each team member to participate in a Team Dimension Profile that identifies their strengths in group decision making.  Ask the group to target the progress and achievements as they are completed and talk about successes (as well as lessons learned through failure).  I think you will find a self-motivated group that cannot wait to share their experiences with others.

TEA has a Team Dimension Profile as part of a team building training program.  Please review all of our training programs at or give Jason Reep a call at 616.698.1167 to learn more.

Where Have All the People Gone?
by Maggie McPhee, SHRM-CP, PHR, Director of  Information Services

Remember the folk song by Peter Paul and Mary entitled Where Have All the Flowers Gone?
We could edit the lyrics to reflect today's workplace as follows:

Where have all the employees gone?  Long time passing...
Where have all the employees gone?  Long time ago...
Where have all the employees gone?
Colleges have picked them, every one
When will they ever learn?  When will they ever learn?
Where have all the skilled trades gone?  Long time passing...
Where have all the skilled trades gone?  Long time ago...
Where have all the skilled trades gone?
Gone for prestige, every one
When will they ever learn?  When will they ever learn?
Where has our work ethic gone?  Long time passing...
Where has our work ethic gone?  Long time ago...
Where has our work ethic gone?
Gone for "flexibility" every one
When will they ever learn?  When will they ever learn?
Where have all the...

This song comes to mind today because several HR folks attending one of our ever-popular HR Round Tables focused the discussion on how to find, get and keep employees.  Talent Management is not a new topic but, as the song indicates, we seem never to learn enough about how to avoid problems caused by talent shortages within the labor pool.

Attendance rewards, incentivizing performance, utilizing staffing firms and other alternative staffing sources, transportation assistance, direct hiring and high school recruiting were among the resources discussed - they have tried them all!  A new focus is being placed upon alternative staffing sources - primarily within the "returning citizens" and "returning veterans" sectors.  Some of the resources cited include:
  • The Source
  • City on A Hill (lakeshore)
  • Seventy X 7
  • Lakeshore Club House
  • Troops in Transition (new in W MI)
  • Guiding Light Mission
  • MDOC Vocational Village
No one had a successful "answer" to the situation, however, one member has begun a program that has stopped the finger pointing from always being directed at HR.  They have been documenting on a spreadsheet all the reasons employees leave and are absent, noting the shift, team lead, supervisor, etc.  When supervisors come to HR asking why they do not have more hires for them it has allowed the HR department to help supervisors understand that maybe this problem is not HR's problem.  They share with them all the agencies they have called, all the sources they have checked, allowing the supervisor (or manager) a better understanding of the situation.  While this may seem like deferring the blame, once an issue or problem is out in the open it can be much more easily addressed and managed.  Unless (and until) you identify a problem a solution cannot be implemented.

If you would like more information on any of the ideas mentioned above, call our Helpline (616.698.1167) or consider joining one of our five (5) HR Round Tables.  Do you have any resources about this topic you are willing to share?  Please let us know.

The above scenario is just one example of how the HR Round Tables can benefit your company.  We come together to learn from each other, exchange information, develop best practices, thereby helping to grow our own companies to be a stronger part of the thriving West Michigan economy.

Please contact Maggie at 616.698.1167 for more information.
Career Development Plans for Small & Medium Sized Organizations
by Jason Reep , SPHR, Director of Learning & Inclusion  

Often employees who work in larger organizations are familiar with career development opportunities.  They are used to help recruit, retain, and develop employees.  They may consist of Career Centers and counselors who help identify an employee's interest and skills, matching their interests and abilities with potential opportunities within the organization.  Career Centers are often linked with Tuition Reimbursement plans as well as other Learning and Development opportunities (such as training and/or coaching).

Smaller organizations also see the benefits of Career Development but frequently do not have the same resources available.  Because of that, many organizations have created scaled down (but still successful) versions of a program for career development.  What makes these programs successful - and what causes them to struggle?

First, it is important to spend the time to determine what a successful plan would achieve (is it OK if employees develop so much they leave for other opportunities or are you only interested in developing individuals for positions within your own organization?).  It is also important to create a policy that outlines expectations of participants and what to expect (or not expect) as a result of Career Center participation (will I get a promotion and/or raise?).  Finally, do not forget to provide ongoing support to those involved (employees and their supervisors).

There are a couple keys to keep in mind when considering the establishment of a Career Center type program. Pull programs are more successful than Push programs.  A Push program is driven by the employer - "Top Talent" is identified and development opportunities are pushed towards employees in an effort to develop their talents and retain their abilities.  A Pull program is driven by the employees with the support of their direct up-line leader.  Push and Pull programs are both partnerships but the Pull puts the majority of the responsibility with the employee.  I recently facilitated a meeting where employees felt that the responsibility for success of their Pull program was 70% - 75% on themselves.  A best practice is for the individual employee and their supervisor to agree on how much responsibility each has for the personal development as there may need to be more support (or Push) for newer/less experienced employees and less direct support for more seasoned employees who have networks and know more about development opportunities.

The two biggest reasons that Career Development programs fail are miscommunication and differing expectations between employee and direct supervision.  Employees often get busy or feel like their development is taking too long and they stop working on it.  Leaders may not continue to provide support or remind (Push) employees of their development goals and plan.  In order to be effective, a Career Center must be supported by the organization as demonstrated by having a strong kickoff and providing guidance to all involved well after the program has started.  Any program can easily loose its sparkle se we must remember to keep connected to stakeholders and participants, making adjustments to the program based on continuous feedback.

Engaging in a thorough assessment of interests and skills will help focus efforts and lead to a higher likelihood of success.  TEA offers a variety of assessments that can be useful to determine direction and development opportunities.

Employees and their managers have certain responsibilities to increase the impact of a Career Center. Some responsibilities include:

Both employee and leader must:
  • Understand differences (and similarities) in abilities, personality, values, skills, interests and preferences and recognize their impact on relationships and career development
  • Network and participate in professional associations to build business relationships, knowledge base, and information sources
  • Identify skills and experience needed to be successful in the next (desired) role
  • Commit to having ongoing and honest dialogue
  • Focus on skills to help overcome obstacles
  • Become comfortable in giving and receiving feedback
  • Set goals and measure results
Supervisors must:
  • Stretch assignments and ensure job rotations
  • Recommend books, professional associations, conferences, courses, articles, and other information that will help the employee develop
  • Understand and be able to concisely communicate current and future organizational needs/opportunities
  • Coach and advise - not tell and direct - focusing on the solution rather than the problem
  • Provide training and guidance
Employees must:
  • Identify specific areas (job knowledge, skills, and experiences) they wish to develop
  • Develop a career plan for themselves - and follow through to make sure it is accomplished
TEA would be happy to talk with you regarding your existing program or help you set up a new Career Development program in your organization.  For more information contact  at or 616.698.1167.

Why Hiring Yourself Can Be A Bad Hire
by Rob Strate, SPHR, Director of HR Services

Finding a great person to join the organization takes diligence, care and often more time than we would like. It means locating the best candidates, interviewing them carefully, doing in-depth reference checking, testing, and then providing the necessary coaching once they're on board. However, in today's super competitive market for talent, the temptation is to take short-cuts in the hiring process, very often with unfortunate consequences.

One such trap hiring managers can fall into is the selection of individuals who look and act like they do, too easily impressed by candidates who went to the same school as they did, or worked at a company they worked at, or even share the same religion, hobbies or other interests. There's plenty of research to show that we evaluate people more positively when we feel they're more like us. Similarities in experience, attitude, political views, and physical appearance all increase the likelihood that people will "connect" -- even if those similarities are hiding weaknesses that make the person ill-suited for the job.

From the factory floor to the executive suite, no manager is immune from feeling comfortable with the familiar. For one thing, we tend to like people who affirm our opinions and decisions. And we tend to be able to communicate more easily with people who share our background, language, and belief system. Better communication means fewer conflicts, and if we feel like we're going to get along with one candidate better than the other, that's a hard impulse to ignore - but ignore it you should. At the worst, an unchecked tendency to hire people just like you can be discriminatory (if it means you're excluding people because they're different, even though they may be more qualified). More important, building a homogeneous organization is just bad business. You won't have the variety of perspectives, backgrounds, and skills that are invaluable when you're up against big problems, or facing big opportunities.

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 .  
NOTE ABOUT SAFEUNSUBSCRIBE:  If your company is a TEA member and you unsubscribe, you will no longer receive ANY TEA e-communications.  If someone else should be receiving this information, please email and we will update our records.