Blog Post: Tim Hortons Cobourg Case – An Alternate Viewpoint

Minimum Wage Increase in Ontario: Tim Hortons Cobourg Case – An Alternate Viewpoint

Written By: Brad Lutz





Sometimes the way things are presented in the media oversimplifies a situation and misses balancing perspectives that help truly understand what’s going on.

I’ve recently been following the Tim Hortons Story in Ontario where store owners (in fact, the children of the founder) have changed their employee benefits program to being cost shared instead of being 100% employer paid. The owner has also taken away paid breaks from the employees. Of course, this wouldn’t normally be news, but the employer was forthright with its employees in this situation and advised that they took these measures in response to the increased minimum wage in the province of Ontario. By the way, the minimum wage in Ontario just increased from $11.60 / hour to $14.00 / hour – an increase of over 20% on January 1, 2018.

If you’re not familiar with the story, here are some links:

These articles focused on the employees and how they feel they’ve been hard done by. Now the Premier of Ontario, Kathleen Wynne has weighed in and has accused this franchise of being “unfair” and engaging in a “clear act of bullying” its employees. The media has allowed the employer to be painted in a negative light without providing a balanced perspective.

So – here are some balancing points to consider in this situation:

  1. There has been no mention of layoffs or terminations as a result of the minimum wage increase. It appears this franchise is trying to take a balanced approach in this situation by having everyone hurt a little bit, instead of a few people hurting a lot by losing their jobs. Although one employee complained that he had less on his paycheque now as a result of having to pay for benefits, that employee still has a job (and a job that provides benefits)!
  2. It is unexpected that a number of these employees have had benefits in the first place! In the fast food industry, most employees are part-time and don’t have access to benefits at all. The fact that these employees continue to have a benefits plan is positive news for them. They may not even have the opportunity to be a part of a benefits plan at another industry employer.  In addition, the employer is still paying half the cost of the benefits plan for its long tenured employees. It is fairly common in many industries that the employee and employer share the cost of benefits. The fact that this employer previously paid 100% of the cost of benefits was uncommon and incredibly generous of them, especially for this industry!
  3. The employer used to provide paid breaks to its employees. This provision of paid breaks is not (at least not yet) a requirement by Ontario Employment Standards. To take away something that wasn’t required and that went above and beyond legislation in response to an imposed increased cost seems like a reasonable business decision to try to ensure the business can afford to continue to operate and provide jobs.
  4. The Employer provides jobs for these people. Yet, somehow, in the media’s perspective, if a business owner adjusts the overall mix of compensation to try to deal with a minimum wage that increased by 20% almost overnight, they’re the bad guy. Really?!? This attitude of vilifying the very people who are driving the economy and creating jobs must stop. I’m not about to support bad behaviour from bad employers, but this Tim Hortons franchise had been going above and beyond legislative requirements in its overall compensation for its employees. Yes, the employees now have an increased minimum wage and yes, the employer is changing its overall compensation strategy to deal with this change. They all still have jobs! They still have access to a benefits plan. Wow.

Ontario’s entrepreneurial spirit cannot be expected to die in the face of a significant increased cost. Now that we’re starting to see some of the creative (and entrepreneurial) ways in which employers are dealing with this imposed cost increase, it should not at all surprise us that they are coming up with ways to creatively assess and deal with it. It was this very type of thinking and spirit that led these people to risk their own personal finances to open these very businesses that provide real jobs for real people.

Let’s not forget that many employers in Ontario have threatened to cut jobs because of this wage increase. In the case of this Tim Hortons franchise, they perhaps should be hearing our words of encouragement instead of (or in addition to) our words of criticism as they are at the very least, trying to find ways to retain employment for ALL of their employees.

I think the final word in this perspective should be clear – the goal of having people earn a living wage is a noble and appropriate goal for a province to undertake. It is a great direction to have people who are able to work full-time to be able to pay for their own basic needs and even have some discretionary income at the end of the day. However, it certainly appears that the Government of Ontario is placing this responsibility solely on the shoulders of the employers and companies who are creating these incomes in the first place. It seems curious to me that the province who is so concerned with ensuring workers have an income that can be sustainable doesn’t seem interested in raising the minimum tax exemption, which would be a significant help to lower income earners and would share the living wage burden with employers. Maybe Kathleen Wynne needs to find more efficient ways of running her government so she can stop burdening (almost used the word bullying) low income earners with her current tax program 😉.

I would love to see your comments. I suspect many people may disagree with this viewpoint, but I wanted to try to balance the perspective from the articles linked above. If you disagree and wish to comment, I just ask that you be respectful in your response. Thanks!

Blog Post: Get Back to Basics

Get Back to Basics

Written By: Devan Graham

January 16, 2017

As 2018 begins, it’s a great time to think ahead to the upcoming year and set some resolutions as a Leader.  Think about what you’d like to see as outcomes for this year, professionally and personally. Think about what you’d like to see your team accomplish or develop, and spend some time reflecting on how you can support them to get there.

As we are at the beginning of the year, it’s also a good time to go back to the basics and re-group.  Before tackling new challenges and opportunities, make some time to lead and ensure your team’s foundation is strong to tackle the year ahead.  As leaders, we can tend to get ahead of ourselves from time to time and miss some foundational stepping stones that allow us and our team to be successful.

Ask yourself (and your team) about some of the basics – would they agree with the following statements?

  • Do they understand what is required of them in their role?
  • Do they have the tools, resources and material to be successful in their role?
  • Do they have the training needed to be successful in their role?

If these are areas that can be strengthened within your team – here are a couple ideas as to what you can do:

Conduct a “What are we Missing?” Inventory.  Facilitate a conversation with individual employees and gather information from your team to understand what’s missing.  Are expectations unclear?  Are there tools or resources missing?  Is additional training required?

Take the time to understand where the biggest gaps are and set priorities with your team.

When expectations are unclear:

  • Review items such as their job descriptions, standard operating procedures (SOP’s), policies, etc. as needed.
  • Ensure you are communicating what and why – why their work is important to the overall big picture of the organization.
  • Spend some time to learn how each member of your team best processes information, and if you are unsure – ASK THEM! “What would be helpful for you the next time we are reviewing something so that we can ensure we are on the same page?”

When tools, resources and/or materials are missing:

  • Identify areas that are low-hanging fruit and begin with those for some quick wins but also be prepared to invest in items that are hindering employee performance.

 When additional training is required:

  • Consider what changes may have taken place to their role, or operational processes that could impact training.
  • Review the on-boarding process as well to understand if employees are properly trained and up to speed when they start. A tracking system can help ensure no training is missed.
  • An annual check-in with employees is helpful to continue to stay on top of training needs.

By focusing on expectations, tools and training you will be laying a foundation to support the upcoming year.  When employees know what’s expected of them at work and have the tools and training to execute in their roles, their level of engagement increases.  They will also be more resilient and able to adapt to changing organizational demands.

Once you’ve set them up for success, help them stay the path.  Focus on removing roadblocks and deal with operational and people problems in a timely manner.  Communicate and explain the WHY behind decisions and even as the year progresses always make a little time to get back to basics and check that your foundation is still holding strong.

Client Feature: Hippo CMMS

Winnipeg Tech Company, Hippo CMMS Uses Acuity HR Solutions to Help with Growing Pains

Written By: Reena Sommer, PhD, Hippo CMMS

November 27, 2017

One of the challenges facing companies experiencing rapid growth is finding a balance between product development and service, and staff management concerns. Too often, business owners’ primary focus is on growing their business and as such, issues relating to staff management are left to fall by the wayside. Businesses that once coasted along on a shoe string staff and budget suddenly find themselves with a need to hire more employees, restructure management and expand their operations on several fronts. While success is welcomed, the challenge of company expansion is also accompanied by its own set of growing pains and problems.  Such has been the experience for Hippo CMMS.

Launched in 2002 and located in Winnipeg, Canada, Hippo CMMS is a growing SaaS (Software as a Service) company. Today, Hippo has become a leader in computerized maintenance management software servicing businesses across a broad spectrum of industries. Their software helps businesses manage and track work orders, preventive maintenance, facilities and more. With only four staffers at its start, today, Hippo employs just over 20 people in a variety of positions including programming, marketing, product development as well as administration and management. In its first year of operation, the company attracted 40 customers; now Hippo has over 800 businesses that utilize its cloud based CMMS system. Hippo CMMS client list includes: Prada, MTS Centre, Cablevision, Mountain Equipment Coop, The Bay Centre and Hard Rock Cafe, to name a few.

Given its rapid growth, Hippo soon realized it could no longer manage the staffing process on its own. While the company still maintains a small, lean and agile composition, the expansion process presented challenges for the company culture as well as management in general. It became apparent that these challenges required the assistance of a human resource specialist. After considerable research, Hippo CMMS chose Acuity HR Solutions as its HR consulting partner because of its focus on company culture as well as its commitment to addressing Hippo’s specific operational needs.

Acuity’s objective is to assist companies in building intentional solutions that strengthen their organizations and improve workplace cultures. The company sets out to meet this objective by offering services in the following four focus areas:

  • consulting – HR external review (check-up); employee handbooks, policies and best practices; interim on-site and out-sourced HR support; investigations and HR emergencies
  • training and development – leadership training (IPL); respectful workplace training; great teams training; client communication training; recruitment training, leadership coaching
  • recruitment – sourcing, attracting and placing high quality individuals at all levels
  • engagement services – Engagement Indicator Survey, Engagement Action Plans, and Leadership Development Coaching

At the time that Hippo CMMS contracted Acuity HR Solution, Hippo was experiencing some attrition due to the restructuring of its management and implementing new processes. As a result, Hippo was challenged by these simultaneously occurring changes and sought assistance from Acuity on how to function more effectively. Acuity HR Solutions began by conducting an Engagement Indicator survey for Hippo to assist them in better understanding its employees and the things that were important to them in the work setting.  Next, the HR firm drafted an employee handbook that was customized to Hippo’s operations and company culture. At the time of this writing, Hippo CMMS is looking forward to Acuity delivering customized leadership training to its team. With Acuity HR Solutions’ assistance, Hippo is back on track and functioning in a more cohesive way.

When discussing what makes Acuity HR Solutions so appealing to Hippo CMMS, Daniel Golub, Hippo GM stated,

“Hippo has seen rapid growth over the past five years. With three consecutive years with 50% customer growth, we had to do a lot of hiring. Change was something we could manage easily with a small group, but once we passed 20 staff and departments solidified, we faced some challenges. Hippo is small enough to not warrant an HR department. We are a strong believer in operating lean, so managers and staff wear a lot of hats. Acuity was the right choice for us to strengthen our culture, develop policies and procedures and advise us on HR matters.”

Blog Post: 3 Ways to Miss the Mark on Handling People Problems

3 Ways to Miss the Mark on Handling People Problems

Written By: Jaysa Toet

November 24, 2017

When leaders experience a problem with a specific person, a gut reaction is to solve it in the quickest, easiest, and most painless way possible. It’s true that problems should be solved quickly, however, well-intentioned efficiency or avoidance can cause leaders to miss the mark. Even when uncomfortable, dealing with a situation personally with the individual is typically the most effective way to resolve people issues.   Here are some examples showing how not dealing with situations personally can backfire:

Putting up a sign

I was working with a leader who was having issues because her staff were complaining about a hygiene problem with an employee. The leader wanted to put a sign up enforcing the importance of hand washing with the hope that the employee would get the picture. I coached her on addressing the individual directly and as part of the conversation she found out the employee had allergies that were causing them to sneeze uncontrollably (thus the hygiene complaints). Through a personal discussion, the situation was resolved – and with a solution (allergy medication) that would not have been apparent without a conversation! Think about what would have happened if the leader hadn’t had the conversation and simply put up a hand washing sign. Likely nothing!

Signs can be ineffective for multiple reasons such as the intended person may not see it, it may not be specific enough/interpreted correctly, or it may not be taken seriously. They can also be completely irrelevant if further information isn’t gathered first. Employees who had nothing to do with the original concern may also begin to wonder if the sign was for them, prompting confusion and perhaps even frustration as they may feel they were already meeting the sign’s stated expectation.

Yelling at a group/Sending a mass email

(Firstly, yelling doesn’t help). Secondly, many leaders who have staff meetings/team huddles/toolbox talks think that this is the best or only avenue to address individual concerns. However, when providing corrective action in this setting it is very common for the employee who is needing the correction to think they aren’t the one doing something wrong while others who may not be at fault at all feel it’s them to blame.  The same is true for sending a mass email. In fact, the employee who you intended to address may now believe that they aren’t the only one missing the expectation and feel they can continue to fly under the radar.

Writing a policy

Policies are great for documenting legislative requirements, common concerns and repeated questions but should not be used when only one person is the problem. At times we call this jerk management because if you are putting a policy in place that is taking something away due to one person’s poor (jerk) behaviour, you are potentially making others (who are meeting expectations) suffer unnecessarily.

Policies don’t solve everything and shouldn’t be overused to cover what could happen. For example, offices don’t have a “don’t throw bowling balls down the hallway” policy but we somehow avoid that and would also reasonably know that it is a safety concern were it actually to happen!

If you have a concern with one person, have the leadership courage to deal with that person one on one. 

No one ever said leadership was easy.

So why do we address situations individually?

Leaders should address situations individually to get to the root cause of the issue quickly and to achieve the desired result. When dealing with people problems, there are often factors we are unaware of that contribute to a situation. Blanket solutions (like above) won’t help because we haven’t taken the time to gather all the facts and understand the root cause.  If you don’t get the problem by the roots, it will just come back again.

How can I do it right?

Confidence and the right tools are key. Handling issues one on one doesn’t have to be scary if leaders take the time to ask questions and properly diagnose an issue before putting an action plan in place.

Do you need the tools to handle these sorts of conversations?

Acuity’s 4-day Intentional People Leadership (IPL) course provides leaders with specific actionable strategies and tools that they can use with their individuals immediately.  The course focuses on training leaders to lead intentionally, creating a culture of commitment and engagement within their team.

For more information on 2018 sessions visit our website:

Jaysa Toet is a Partner at Acuity HR Solutions. For more content and blogs from the Acuity team visit our website ( and follow us on Instagram and Facebook!

3 Reasons Why Small Companies Need HR

3 Reasons Why Small Companies Need HR

Written By: Jaysa Toet

October 19, 2017

The first thing business owners think about when starting a company is their core business. An idea becomes a product or service fueled by the passion that started it all. Once the dream becomes a reality, passion for the cause quickly becomes inundated by other business requirements such as securing funding, legal support, space and accounting services. HR doesn’t commonly enter the equation until much later especially for a one-person operation. While it may not be on your radar immediately, strategic HR planning is vital to consider as part of your organization’s future.


Reason #1: You’re going to grow and a strong foundation is essential to future success.

Yes, there will be iterations and changes within your company but growing pains can be minimized with proper HR planning. Whether you have 10 or 110 people, without the ability to attract and retain the right people, it will be difficult to grow. The right person in the right role makes all the difference especially within your core team. Alternatively, the churn of employees is not only time consuming but costly and will create significant pain points if you churn more than you earn.

Reason #2: You’re going to be busy (and it’s only going to get busier!)

Some days it will feel like you are wearing 20 different hats. Some of those hats you’ll thrive wearing while others like HR, are needed but not necessarily your area of expertise. Your time is valuable and scarce so putting the right team/HR processes/external HR partners in place is important to protect your headspace and business needs. You need time to focus on what’s most important and what you are best at!

Reason #3: You’re going to be focused on your purpose and the bottom line.

Problems hit you harder when you’re a small company and any diversion away from the purpose of your organization can create significant setbacks. Whether it’s legal costs due to an employee complaint, being offside from legislation or losing a key person in the organization, you need to protect yourself and your team from distractions.

So, what’s the solution?

If you don’t have the foundation right you can’t focus on the critical elements that will sustain your organization in the long term. Take time to think critically about putting HR processes in place and find the right HR partner so that you can create solid plans for the future.

If HR isn’t one of those areas that you enjoy or are “best at” we can help. Let us show you how:

Blog Post: Don’t Promote Your Best Employees…

Don’t Promote Your Best Employees…

Written By: Brad Lutz

September 28, 2017


At the very least, stop promoting your best employees into leadership positions without very, very careful consideration.

I speak with so many different employers from different industries, and the story is too often the same.  “We have this great employee, best technical person or best performer we’ve ever had, so….we promoted them to Manager / Supervisor / Leader of People…”

Then the real fun begins.




 The repeated story has several variations, but the ugly scenario often plays out like this:

Once upon a time we had a great employee, so great in fact, that we promoted her to a Supervisor position.  Then, she stopped being a great employee.  She angered everyone and wasn’t able to get the team to do what they needed to do.  Some employees started to quit and we realized that not only was she not a great employee, she wasn’t even a good one.  We thought about moving her back to her old job, but she had angered so many people that we decided to let her go instead.

 The story changed from a great employee to a fired employee within months with many other casualties along the way (including the organization’s reputation and some clients).

 Frequently, as this avoidable story plays out, the Employer is often completely oblivious to the fact that it was largely their fault that their great employee is no longer performing and therefore “needed” to be fired.  Other less ugly scenarios include demotions, resignations and an immature and/or ineffective leadership team with great doers (but no great leaders).


brad-blogIf your fantastic employee doesn’t have great (or at least very good) communication skills, if they don’t get along with people, if they don’t know how to positively provide direction or inspire a team, then promote them to a non-leadership position.  Sure, pay them more money, give them creative license to improve processes, even see if they can train other people, but do not make them a supervisor or a leader of other people.  You are setting them (and yourself) up for failure if you do so!

 Wayne Gretzky was a great hockey player, but unfortunately, he was a lousy coach.  You would never dream of firing Wayne Gretzky the hockey player, but you have no problems firing him as the coach.  If your fired coach could still play good hockey, you’ve screwed up at least 2 positions on your team and negatively impacted others.

 Getting it Right:  Effective Leadership Selection / Leadership Development:

 Select people into leadership positions based on their ability to communicate and lead, not on their technical ability or their overall knowledge of your organization.

 This is much easier said than done.  A strong leader who doesn’t have intimate knowledge of your industry or organization will still almost always be a better leader than someone who knows your organization inside and out but doesn’t have the right skill set to lead a team.  If you find someone who has both qualities – knowledge of your organization and strong leadership / communication ability, you are very fortunate!

 When it comes to leaders, the age-old question is whether great leaders are simply born or if they can be developed.  The truth – a few great leaders are born with a specific skill set that allows them to lead effectively.  Other people have the ability to learn how to become great leaders.  And many people do not have the skills or the ability to learn how to be a great leader.

 This sometimes means hiring (internally or externally) different people that aren’t your top performing individual contributors.  This is a very difficult choice and can create some difficult conversations, but it is still the correct choice.

 Develop your leaders and your potential leaders.  Providing your leaders and your potential leaders with development opportunities will help assess their potential for future success.  In this development process, ensure you have the ability to not only evaluate technical abilities, but if they have the right skill sets to communicate with and lead people.  All the technical knowledge on the planet does not a good leader make.

 The research continues to be clear – engaged workforces are a competitive advantage and meaningfully outperform non-engaged organizations.  The impact of front line leadership is enormous, and the direct leaders in your organization have more influence on employee engagement and turnover (good and bad) than any other factor in your organization.

 It may be difficult to find great roles for your star employees without making them people leaders, but if your stars don’t have the right skills to lead, you are doing the right thing for them and for your organization.

 If you would like to learn more about our take on intentional people leadership, have a look here.

Blog Post: That Back to School Feeling

That Back to School Feeling

Written By: Jane Helbrecht

September 11, 2017

Is it just me or does that back to school feeling still hit you, even though you haven’t gone ‘back to school’ in ages? There is something about September and getting back into a routine after the classic Winnipeg summer slowdown.  Even though August was a very busy month for me from a work perspective, I can still feel the momentum shift as we enter September.

I haven’t gone ‘back to school’ for 10 Septembers now and I don’t have kids going back to school, so what is it about September?

I always appreciate any opportunity to reset and shift focus back to my priorities at work and at home. Both September and January have that feeling for me. Both of those months come after, what are usually, busy months where ‘focus’ isn’t always top of mind.

For kids going back to school, it’s all about getting those back to school supplies and a few new outfits and perhaps making a few commitments to work harder at school in the year to come. So what can ‘back to school’ or ‘back to work’ look like for us? I think one of the most meaningful things we can do at work or for our business is to identify our top priorities and make sure that we are making time for those priorities above anything else. We get so bogged down in all of the fires we need to put out and the little things we can check off our list, that we don’t always prioritize the really important things.

If your business operates on a calendar year, it’s also a bit of a wake-up call that there are only 3.5 months until Christmas and that we have a lot of s#!t to get done to reach our goals by the end of the year!

For leaders, it is a great time of year to refocus on leading your team intentionally and making time to lead. Make sure you have scheduled an hour or more in your calendar every week to think, plan and strategize on what your team as a whole and what the individuals on your team need from you this fall.

Everyone is back from summer vacations and long weekends at the cottage so take the opportunity to schedule one on one check-in’s with each individual on your team. This is a chance to recalibrate after a potentially less than focused summer. Review any current priorities or quarterly goals with your team and make sure everyone is on the same page and moving forward together.

September is an opportunity to revisit the things that you want to work on as a leader as well.  You may want to focus on giving more meaningful and regular recognition, or spending more one on one time with team members. Maybe you want to focus on getting more input from the team or building professional development plans for each of your team members. Whatever it is, September is a great time to start. Just pick one thing to improve on as a leader and keep it simple, work on that one thing until it’s become a habit. Then pick a new one to focus on.

Set some intentions about what you want to accomplish this fall and what you want/need from your team to make it happen. Then build a plan around executing on those intentions.

Finally, if a new set of notebooks or pens and a ‘back to work’ outfit gives you as much joy after 10 Septembers of not going back to school as it does for me, go for it! 😉

 Jane Helbrecht is a Partner at Acuity HR Solutions. She leads the training and development function with a focus on Acuity’s Intentional People Leadership training program.

Blog Post: What Are Leaders Afraid Of?

What Are Leaders Afraid Of?

Written By: Rachel Weessies

August 31, 2017

In the past number of months, we’ve been focusing time with many clients on one of our newest Acuity products: the Engagement Indicator. The Engagement Indicator is a survey that asks employees a series of questions that have been proven to measure the core elements needed to attract, focus, and retain an organization’s most talented employees and drive results. Organizations receive detailed reporting and the results for each organization are fascinating.

Generally, we’ve found that organizations tend to score low on the following two statements:

  • My leader deals with operational problems in a timely manner.
  • My leader deals with people (team) problems in a timely manner.

Why is this? Low scores could be the result of two scenarios (or a mix of both).

  1. Leaders are not dealing with operational or people problems in a timely manner.
  2. People are not aware that leaders are dealing with operational or people problems in a timely manner.

Given the general competence and capabilities of many of the leaders we’ve done Engagement Indicator surveys with, we often find #2 to be true.

Leaders are dealing with issues, but people aren’t necessarily aware of it because it hasn’t been communicated effectively. For some reason, leaders are afraid to over-communicate!

When resolving a problem, communication should take place throughout until resolution. When an issue has been brought to your attention as a Leader, thank the employee for letting you know and let them know that you’ll take care of it by X date. When resolving an operational problem, as much as possible ask for your team’s input. They may have some great ideas and may be able to resolve it with you! Take action and ensure that the problem is resolved. Depending on the complexity of the issue, you may communicate throughout the resolution process to let them know that you’re still working on it. When resolution has occurred let that employee know that you’ve resolved the issue.

If it’s impossible to make a change or fully resolve the issue, let the employee know WHY. At least they’ll understand and be appreciative of your attempt to resolve the situation, rather than being frustrated you’re your lack of action or questioning your capability.

When dealing with people/team problems it may not always be appropriate to share the details of the issue or resolution. You don’t want to be discussing an employee’s personal problem with their co-workers. However, you should still communicate. Thank the employee who brought up the issue, let them know you will deal with it and once the issue has been resolved, tell them. You don’t need to give them the details about how, why or what, but at least they’ll know the issue has been addressed!

Why is it important to communicate when dealing with a problem or issue?yeah-if-you-could-just-tell-me-whats-going-on-that-would-be-great

As a leader, it’s your job to deal with problems and remove roadblocks. By being transparent with your team and communicating throughout your resolution process you are taking away some of their uncertainty. Rather than worrying about a problem, they can put their effort and energy into their jobs.

Don’t be afraid to over-communicate.  You may feel as though you are providing too much information or communicating too frequently but your team will appreciate the transparency.

Build credibility with your team by dealing with (and communicating about) operational and people issues quickly, so they can get back to performing effectively in their roles!

Visit our website or sign up for our newsletter for information about Acuity and the HR support we can provide.

Blog Post: Key Communication Tips for Effective Change Management

Key Communication Tips for Effective Change Management

Written By: Devan Graham

August 15, 2017

Change management planning can quickly be derailed without a solid communication plan.  On the other hand, a strong communication plan can help make up for unforeseen circumstances or an imperfect change management strategy.

Here are some key change management communication tips to help you navigate the change path:


In order for people to support a change and get on board, they need to understand that change is necessary.  Explain the problem (the reason change is needed) and don’t be afraid to explain the bad.  Give them time to digest and DO NOT communicate potential solutions just yet.  Allow employees to identify the need for change.  Unify them in their understanding that something needs to be done.

By presenting a solution before the need is understood, people will use up their energy evaluating potential solutions instead of being focused on the problem.  The mindset needs to be – “What are we going to do about this?” rather than “Shouldn’t we do something else instead?”


One of the best (and easiest) ways to build trust in your organization is through transparency.  Yes, there are times when information needs to be managed carefully, but only do so when necessary.  Show both the good and the bad, not just the information that is easy to share.  In a transparent culture, employees are FAR more likely to trust you when difficult decisions have to be made.


Appeal to the sense of ownership in your employees.  If your people own the problem, they will be motivated for change!  Ask yourself – “How does the problem impact our people?”


Quick victories gain trust.  Often, quick victories can be low cost (or no cost) solutions that have big impact.  Build credibility by showing employees you are concerned about their interests.


Who are the most negative, outspoken people in your organization (or at your location)?  Who are your more emotive people?  Who are your natural born leaders that people gravitate towards?  These are the opinion leaders of your organization and the people you need on board.

Bring these individuals into the mix.  Involve them in the problem and to help evaluate options for a solution.  This may take place through organized committees, focus groups, or one-on-one.   By practicing collaborative leadership and developing solutions with the direct involvement of your opinion leaders, these individuals will become your champions for change.


Use intentional messaging.  Put yourself in the shoes of those on the receiving end.  Consider “What’s in it for Me (WIIFM)” from their perspective.  What do your employees care about?  How does this affect them personally?  Communicate in a way that demonstrates a clear understanding of your employees’ perspective and in ways that will inspire.

Communication is not formulaic. Good Leaders know the importance of balancing the human capital with the goals and objectives of the organization.  It requires intentional thought, creativity and effort and a solid understanding of your organization’s culture and environment.

Devan is a Partner with Acuity HR Solutions.  For more information about what Acuity’s team can do for your organization, visit our website at

Blog Post: Suit Shopping for Beginners: Lessons in Humility

Suit Shopping for Beginners: Lessons in Humility

Written By: Cheryl Krestanowich

June 29, 2017

Shopping for my first suit was an experience in humility that will stay with me forever, and one that has (oddly enough) helped to shape the leader that I am today.

A number of years back, I had left a job with a clear career track to follow a new path. As I approached graduation from a 10-month intensive course in HR, it occurred to me that I should put my big-girl-pants on and buy a suit for my pending internship and job interviews.

I earned enough during this time to keep a roof over my head and not much else. As you can appreciate after months of stretching every dollar, I wasn’t at my sharpest. My shoes were scuffed, my jeans a little threadbare and my hair had been cut precisely six months prior because it took a back-seat to paying bills. I lived in a leaky basement that flooded each spring and had spiders the size of canaries.

When it came time to head out to the mall to purchase my suit, I probably looked a step above destitute, but it was a look I inhabited out of necessity.

If you haven’t lived in that place, you should try it; it’s a lesson in character.

With my best manners in tow and a flimsy confidence, I walked into two stores where I had two extremely different experiences.

The first store was fashionable and clothed the edgy-trendsetters of the world.

Looking dishevelled, I walked in and approached suits not knowing what to expect: I was obviously out of my element. The salesperson glowered with disapproval when I asked how their absurd sizing worked, as though it was obvious that one should subtract 30 sizes to get to the actual size.

I was obviously a Neanderthal.

I moved on to the dressing rooms and when the blazer didn’t fit, looked for the salesperson only to find her behind the desk talking to another employee about something far more important than me. We made eye contact and I pointed that I needed help…and two minutes later she hadn’t moved. I left the store dragging my pride behind me. I live, breathe and sleep customer service, and I have never been back.

My second experience couldn’t have been more different.

With my confidence shot and necessity driving my trudge into a second “fancier” store, I was greeted by a wonderful salesperson who sensed my discomfort and actively sought to make me feel at home. Asking questions about my budget, preferences and what I needed the suit for, she had me in and out of the store feeling like a million (very thankful) bucks in 20 minutes and with a suit that was considerably more expensive than the one at the other store.

And I paid gladly and thankfully for my experience, and for someone who took time to recognize my value and treat me like a person. I went back over and over to buy all the suits for my future jobs.

Here’s my point: how you treat people matters.

Not just a little bit, not just sometimes, and not just when it’s convenient.

All the time.

It’s easy to forget what it felt like to be the little guy when you’ve been away from it for a while, but it’s important to remember the times that people made you feel small so you can avoid that trap once you’ve arrived.

My message for Leaders: we have a responsibility. 

Study after study has shown that the old-school autocratic, hierarchical, self-important way of managing only works for so long. Our responsibility is to remember what it felt like to be small and vulnerable, to be starting out with nothing but your name, and to encourage greatness and confidence in others.  My suit story might be a simple example, but confidence and success often originate from surprising places.

Your prestige and importance is an illusion, but how you make people feel and how hard they want to work for you is real. You can sit behind the counter and roll your eyes, or you can get into the trenches with your up-and-comers, invest in them and help them grow. It’s your job as a leader to care about your people and their professional and personal health.

Five years down the line the person you couldn’t give the time of day to might be a key customer, a potential employee or a competitor. And let me tell you, that person will remember you and will treat you accordingly.

Kindness and sincerity never go out of style.

Cheryl Krestanowich is a Talent Acquisition Specialist at Acuity HR Solutions where she executes on clients’ staffing needs by matching them with top candidates. For more information about Acuity HR, visit

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