April 1, 2022
Jacki Hart Many of us attend workshops or seminars in the off season with big intentions of implementing what we learn. The frustrating reality is that much of it doesn’t stick and we go back to our old ways. Thanks to a handful of ambitious participants in the Landscape Ontario Employers of Choice (EOC) GROW Program, that trend may soon be over with the creation of a blueprint for future seminar and program participants to come together and implement what they’ve learned.

EOC participants Aaron Harpell, Elissa Janca, Cassie Zelewski, Don McQueen and Julie Poirier formed an accountability group after completing the 10-week program and they continue to meet regularly. The five collaborators meet for an hour online to review, contemplate, discuss and formulate plans to apply the tools and tips learned in the LO Employers of Choice program into their company activities, policies, training and processes.

I’m so impressed with this dynamic group that I would like to share some responses from various members of the group.

What inspired you to come together as a group to implement the tools learned in the Employers of Choice Program?

As the training was coming to an end, I was worried that all the good work I planned to do wouldn’t happen without someone to hold me responsible. With Jacki’s support, I reached out to others in the program to form an accountability group of other participants. Without the support and motivation from my colleagues in the horticultural industry, I know that it would have been much harder for me to stay focused during the off-season. Together we created an “All-Star Accountability” weekly schedule where we spend an hour together on Microsoft Teams.

What process has your group created to support implementation — given that each of you may have different priorities.

We started with a round up of where people are in their process as well as any roadblocks to progress. We cultivated a supportive culture to foster clear communication about these challenges, recognizing that not everyone will be focusing upon the same issues, but value the insights of all participants. Recently it was decided for one member to take the lead each week and show the rest of us what they had done. This proved positive, none of us wants to be the person who said ‘I did not get my work done’. Peer pressure can motivate one to do a lot of work in a short period of time!

What is the hardest challenge you face when translating the ideas and frameworks you learn in a workshop, into sustainable improvements in your company?

To gather the ideas from the workshop and resources, and then communicate them effectively to staff, to involve them in the implementation, and to FOLLOW UP. Also, knowing that this is a self-directed effort and we have helped each other be disciplined.

What is your approach to implement the concepts you learned at the GROW Employers of Choice Program into everyday action?

We all seem to agree that we couldn’t implement everything we learned in the program, but weekly improvements on the key initiatives we each chose are proving to have an amazing impact. We’re each working to get buy-in from staff, and setting some metrics or lead indicators in place — so that we can measure results (what gets measured gets done).

What are the top three benefits of belonging to your accountability group?

It’s totally helped take concepts into reality, it’s created excellent peer connections in the industry to work with. It’s also been awesome to see how we face similar challenges in different businesses and that the solutions reflect our unique perspectives. It’s been great to challenge my own assumptions and see the diverse ways to accomplish the same thing. We all feel we have four new industry friends whom we can bounce ideas off of, and ask for help solving a problem without feeling embarrassed or stupid.

“If anyone has been sitting on the fence about taking part in professional development like the Employers of Choice program, I say DO IT! Well worth the time and effort,” - Julie Poirier.

“I found the material from this course extremely valuable and didn’t want to lose the momentum gained throughout the EOC course over the winter months!” - Aaron Harpell.

“Going forward we will try and review the additional module resources during our weekly meetings. There was so much great material accompanying each module. We will continue to take turns leading. It’s awesome,” - Elissa Janca.

To find out more about the Employers of Choice program (free to LO member company owners and HR managers), contact Joan D’Souza at jdsouza@landscapeontario.com.

Landscape Ontario member business owners can join the LO Peer to Peer Network for free.
To participate in private online discussions, email  signup.peer2peer@landscapeontario.com

Jacki Hart CLM
Prosperity Partners Program Manager

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This Employment Ontario program is funded in part by the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario.