How To Build a High-Performing Company of World-Changing Millennials

Victoria MacDonald

One Canadian organization that has made one of the greatest global impacts is WE. We have the honour of hearing from Victoria MacDonald, their Chief People Officer today for a brilliant discussion of millennials, translating values into actions & leading a team in a hyper-growth mode! 

Victoria is a 20-year veteran HR professional who is known for building cultures of alignment, accountability and high levels of engagement without pool tables, beer fridges or free food. 

Some questions I ask:
  • How do you come into a company as a new executive to bring change in a well-established, already world-class company culture? 
  • WE has an incredibly diverse set of roles in their 1000+ person organization. How do you hire so that across the organization, in the variety of roles & the types of people each require, to still hire aligned to your values?
  • How do leaders, many of whom are struggling with this, translate their values into behaviours people know how to demonstrate at school?
  • Are there tools & technology to help reinforce core values? 
  • What are some key learnings you’ve found that millennials need to thrive in the workplace? 
  • “Working with a purpose” is incredible, WE may even have it more easy than most, sometimes work still gets monotonous… how do you keep your workplace invigorated? 
In this episode, you will learn: 
  • Heading into a major growth-period that involves maturing as a company is highly complex. Adding a more diverse workforce (in WE’s case, adding more tenured employees bringing the average age from 24 to 30 years old). Most elements of your people programs much change including your offer letters, performance management processes, the way you set goals, even your career development conversations. 
  • WE sets out to always continuously improve, Co-Founders Marc & Craig Kielburger never let themselves think they’re “done.” 
  • WE doesn’t see their quarterly employee engagement surveys as a way to figure out whether people are “happy at work.” Rather, they use their surveys to find out: 
    • what is working, so they can do better at those 
    • what needs to be tweaked or changed > create plans against these things 
  • When Victoria created her detailed HR Roadmap, every item on this plan is directly related to something that has come out of their surveys. 
  • Hiring for core values such as “we move for purpose & positivity,” guide their interviews. 3 Day Orientation is also integral to having people understanding how to display values at work, this achieves cultural cohesion. Because this occurs in all offices around the world, there’s a similar employee experience across-the-board. 
  • What’s rarely discussed is that millennials go to work everyday to create a sense of community and to be with their friends. Nurturing that and giving people the opportunity to work with their friends is really important. 
Connect with Victoria:

More about WE.org:
WE is a family of organizations spanning from charities to social enterprises. One of their most famous events, WE Day is the greatest celebration of social good on earth. A multi-million dollar event where you can’t buy a ticket… you only get in through service & volunteering. World-leaders, celebrities & outstandingly brave people gather with and youth activists arena events to inspire the next generation of world-changers.  
WE Charity is where school children are empowered & educated on service. They also send teams into WE Villages in Africa, Asia and Latin America who receive development through intentional partnership.  
ME to WE, a social enterprise has also employed over 1800 artisans in Ecuador & Kenya.  10M social impacts have been funded and delivered through product purchases of ME to WE. 

Listening to Your People in a Fast-Growth Company

TIA FOMENOFF

Tia Fomenoff has always loved helping others solve their problems—whether she’s placing people in their dream jobs, working with customers to make more money, guiding small businesses on the uses of social media or even recommending great restaurants to acquaintances. In today’s podcast, Tia shares in-detail how she and the leadership team have listened well to their employees, even adapted accordingly to the extent of giving a $2000 mental health spending limit for every employee! 
 
Her unconventional career-path began in northern British Columbia in the non-profit and tourism industries, then shifted to focus on digital marketing and customer success at high-growth tech companies Unbounce and Buffer. Tia is now the Director of People and Culture at Thinkific, where they build software that enables entrepreneurs to create, market, sell, and deliver their own online courses.
Some questions I ask:
  • What are company leaders today realizing is the most important thing for their businesses when it comes to culture?
  • Are you seeing a lot of mobility (people bouncing around) between startups in your city? How do you deal with that?
  • When a startup Founder & CEO decides to introduce a Director of People & Culture role, what are they thinking?
  • As a non-native People & Culture leader, what has been the most challenging part of stepping into your role & what have you learned about yourself?
  • How do you balance non-traditional experience with the need for the compliance that a Chartered Professional in Human Resources (CPHR) brings? How do you split up these responsibilities on your team?
  • What is the difference between culture fit and culture add… and what does values fit seem to be something you look for when hiring?
  • How do we build cultures where people speak up?
  • How do we properly survey our employees? How do people at every level of the company bring forward ideas to leadership?
  • What mistakes have you made in your hiring over time?
 
In this episode, you will learn: 
  • Great recruitment becomes a primary competitive advantage in a high-paced, fast-growing tech cities
  • How to transition from a different area of business (e.g. in Tia’s case, she was in marketing) to People & Culture (P&C)
  • Having a non-strict-HR background can be an advantage for a leader in the P&C department, you can understand all the roles & their needs, how to help people grow & be happy opposed to having a key focus on compliance
  • Diversity is very challenging to obtain when looking for culture fit. When you look for a values fit however, you will be rewarded in the beautiful diversity you have in your organization.
  • Amazing to see that when people are encouraged to adopt the value of “We give a shit” how people will roll up their sleeves to pitch in when needed.
  • Set up a channel for communication of new ideas to leadership! Having a flat structure internally allows for people to bring ideas forward to their people leader, even one level above without much feeling they are stepping out of place.
  • Structuring your employee engagement surveys with (1) evidence-based questions, (2) net-promoter score (e.g. How likely are you to recommend working at Thinkific to a family or friend) and (3) free and open-ended questions (e.g. What’re your favourite things about working here? What are some things we can do better?).
  • How to act on your employee’s suggestions, group them into themes, and then make them fully transparent by sharing them with the whole company so people know of the progress towards change and understand what is happening!
 
Connect with Tia Fomenoff:
 
Also mentioned on this show:

Make Mastery Commonplace in Your Culture

Darcy Tuer is the co-founder and CEO of ZayZoon. And doesn’t mess around. His company recently raised $15 million to increase employee financial wellness. As an experienced founder & personal growth geek, he offers a lot of wisdom to other culture builders out there!

Previously to ZayZoon, Darcy was co-founder and president of Spira Data Corp. for 11 years. In his tenure at Spira, Darcy and his team took the company from concept to processing over$3B annually in revenue and payroll data. Spira currently has offices in Calgary, Denver and Houston. Lastly, Darcy serves as Chairman of the board of the Missing Children’s Society of Canada and has been a Director since 2011.

Some questions I ask: 

  • How can providing advances on workers’ paycheques affect the workplace? 
  • What is a great way to integrate people into their culture? 
  • How can you encourage your employees towards mastery? 
  • What happens when someone isn’t living up to your core values? 
  • As your company grows, how do leaders stay involved in building the culture of accountability? 
  • What’s your mindset when dealing with conflict? 
  • How can you responsibly use and strategize how to use large sums of capital & financing? 
  • What’s the one thing that you would encourage (maybe beg) new founders to do when building their culture? 

In this episode, you will learn:  

  • Most of your employees experience financial stress which can affect their performance, their ability to work collaboratively and how they show up at work. 
  • The importance of onboarding and integration, also spending a lot of time with a new hire even before their first day. 
  • How a standard daily 15 min scrum is critical > takes process & discipline. 
  • Encouraging employees to have internal side-gigs becomes a crucial part of helping people build mastery and encourage innovative thinking. 
  • Daily scrums are also essential for accountability to align with the organization’s core values. 
  • Navigating the growth of your team and why it may be wise to bring on an additional, even third, co-founder to ensure you have all the skills needed to thrive as an organization. 
  • Conflict is best entered into if you put your ego aside. 
  • Navigating decision making with 2 doors, from Jeff Bezos. Essentially, if you can make a decision (e.g. walk through a door), and still come out of it easily (e.g. walk back through the door), you should do that swiftly to try. If you can’t walk out, spend a significant amount of time deliberating on the decision. 
  • How do you build high-performing people and sustain this type of environment? 
  • As you grow, jobs of your team are quite wide with multiple competencies, as opposed to when you grow, you may need someone who has deep competency in just, for example, enterprise sales. 
  • Maintain a high-performing environment by keeping them intimately connected to your customers, the people you serve and the impact you’re making. “Why are we doing this?” Only possible if you share across departments who don’t interact with customers as well. 
  • “Predict out of the gates, before you raise the capital, to show investors that you can within 80% of said prediction. That will engender a tremendous amount of confidence from the investor community; they’re looking for a great story, they’re looking for a great team, they’re looking for execution. Can you set a realistic plan where you can achieve certain milestones with the capital available to you, and progress by de-risking the business.” 
  • “If I’ve ever seen a common denominator with the successful founders I’ve seen is a grit and determination, along with the team you surround yourself with.” 

Connect with Darcy:

 

Spirituality at Work

In today’s workplace where diversity and inclusion are paramount to a business’ success, we must consider all the ways to make an inclusive environment possible for our employees. What is often missed is their spirituality, a notoriously taboo subject at work, yet incredibly important to billions of people worldwide. But why? If we all agree that we are body, soul AND spirit, shouldn’t we explore a bit of what it could look like to start to include the 33% of our employees that we faithfully ignore?  

Our guest today is Mike Maeshiro, an expert in spiritual intelligence, an entrepreneur, business leader, and a pastor. Most likely you’ll listen and be taken aback at the way Mike approaches certain leadership situations, how he motivates his team and how he assesses the environment at his workplace and how you can too! 

Some questions I ask: 

  • How can we define spiritual intelligence? 
  • How can leaders ensure that their employees feel safe during difficult 
  • What is the cost of NOT beginning to incorporate elements of spirituality into your day-to-day at work? 
  • What should our posture be towards are employees… are they human “resources” or our greatest “asset”? Is there a better way to look at our team members? 

In this episode, you will learn:  

  • How agreeing with things brings them into our environments. When our employees agree with shame, they leak that into the work environment and it affects our productivity and the company atmosphere.  
  • Ways to discern the spiritual climate at your workplace. > 1) Looking at your team and what each member’s “normal” is, and adjusting your environment so they can truly show up their best at work. 2) Paying attention to your physical body and emotions, checking-in regarding what might be “off.” 
  • The primary way to deal with difficult or “hard-to-have” conversations is to approach it with love at the center… come in very proposing, invitational and asking a lot of questions 
  • How to stay consistently kind and helpful as a leader and build an impressive level of trust. 

Also mentioned on this show: 

Connect with Mike Maeshiro: 

How To Integrate Virtual Assistants Into Your Company Culture

Virtual Assistant Hard at Work

Today’s episode is all about Virtual Assistants, Remote Workers & how all this fits within your current company cultures. We are proud to feature Virtual Gurus, once a little remote working agency with a team of 10 people, now a team of 150 people, considered the largest freelancing platform in Canada. Today we’re uncovering some of the secrets surrounding the mysterious world of remote work and virtual assistants, so tune in now! 

Connect with Bobbie Racette and her team: 

Some questions I ask: 

  • How can companies looking to hire a VA get over their hesitancy to this new way of building your team?  
  • Do we not all do more remote work than we think? 
  • How do you work with VAs to ensure they’re supported, especially since they work by the minute and not on salary? 
  • What does it look like for a virtual assistant to get up-to-speed to best perform the tasks required by the hiring company? 
  • How can a virtual assistant or team member actually integrate within someone’s company culture? 
  • What can a Virtual Assistant DO and NOT DO? 
  • What are some examples of how VAs have concretely built businesses & fostered growth? 
  • If I’m a client of a Virtual Assistant company and now my VA is doing a significant amount of work, what does it look like to incorporate your VA into your team and company culture? 
  • What does a company that organizes and leads a cohort of VAs look like? 
  • What is your vision for a company that works with one of your assistants?    

In this episode, you will learn:  

  • The need for your VA to be in a community of collaboration and accountability with other VAs. 
  • The importance of complete transparency with your assistant when you hire a virtual team member, time-based (to-the-minute) tracking and productivity, a major differentiator in today’s age of a distracted workforce 
  • Helpful tips on “showing up and staying productive” when working from home. The professionalism of VAs is paramount, not only to it being a worthwhile investment but also for the VAs to do quality work & enjoy the process. 
  • Virtual Assistants can support businesses in growth from managing emails and calendars, to website support, development and social media. 
  • What a typical process of working with a VA company looks like and how to slowly & patiently offload tasks that you’re not strong in or enjoy doing to your VA(s) and you can go back to running your business, doing what you’re best at. 
  • Virtual Assistant services 

Also mentioned on this show: 

Turning Your Culture Around & Getting Out of the Way

Interview with Matt Diteljan

On this week’s episode of the CultureING Podcast, we are joined by Matt Diteljan!

As the Founder & Futurist of Glacier GenZ Advertising and Cascade Influencer Marketing, he gets to see things from a bird’s eye view and focus on the future. Matt first grew Glacier from his dorm room in University to an international multi-million dollar company with hundreds of clients, 50+ employees, and a well-respected name in the Higher Ed. marketing sector. When he’s not at the Cascade office, Matthew is very active on several boards including the Entrepreneur’s Organization and the EO Accelerator Program, or you can likely find him sending it down a mountain on his mountain bike.

Some questions I ask: 

  • How to start being proactive about helping people with their career plan, especially in an organization that is primarily of the same age demographic (e.g. millennials). 
  • How do you let your culture mature enough to authentically dictate your values, mission, vision & cultural framework? 
  • How can you funnel back to your organization the futuristic, lofty plans & ideas? 
  • What does a leader need to do to maintain open-handedness around control over all decision making, growth and ideas? 
  • What is the leaders preferred way to receive constructive feedback from a “lower level” employee? 

In this episode, you will learn:  

  • How to take your culture from fear-based culture to a world-class culture 
  • What it looks like to recognize you are standing in the way of the company’s growth 
  • How to transition from CEO to Futurist & Chairman 
  • How do you create a leadership vacuum that continually calls people higher and leads to internal promotions & increasing levels of leadership 
  • What it looks like to take a financial hit on the journey to fighting for your values 
  • How to manage the dynamic of a futuristic leader working alongside a day-to-day CEO 
  • How to bring your whole team into the future idea and have them begin thinking of how their role will need to change to fit into the strategic direction moving forward 
  • Futuristic thinking about whether or not we really have to fire people 

Also mentioned on this show: 

Connect with Matt Diteljan: 

Company Culture is Everyone’s Responsibility

Thane Marcus brings such spice to life and is a wizard when it comes to personal and professional development. As we continually examine the wonderful world of company culture, it’s always important to remember how much culture is influenced by each individual in our organizations. So is building an amazing culture the responsibility of the leadership team? Nope. It is shared. We all have a part to play. So this episode can help anyone from a CEO to a new grad, become an incredible individual contributor to a company culture you can be proud of. 

Some questions I ask: 

  • What does it look like to build a “teachable” culture in our organizations? Is there a way for both employees and leaders to learn from one another. 
  • What might be some examples of personal systems that people can use to become a more high performing and effective at their jobs, especially when there are predefined systems in the workplace that may, or may not, be conducive to our personal growth? 
  • Why do we need to be healthy? 
  • If leaders are doing something that is actually compromising employees’ health, are we actually shooting ourselves in the foot from having high-performing teams? 
  • What does it cost our businesses when we don’t make room for people to show up as their full selves at work: Body, soul & spirit?! 
  • What are millennial wanting to see in the workplace of the future that they’re not seeing right now? 

In this episode, you will learn:  

  • Thane discusses that in a recent blog that self-employment is most certainly not for everyone. 
  • It can be extremely beneficial to begin to train ourselves in leading up the chain of command. In a way of honour and respect, we can gain influence and empowerment when we learn this skill, benefiting both parties. 
  • Our performance is tied to sleep, recovery, and self-care. Contrary to popular belief, sleeping less, eating terribly, avoiding exercise will not get us ahead, but rather, hold us back. 
  • Leaders have a responsibility to steward their roles well specifically by learning what makes millennial tick and helping them to use those traits as their advantage. Creating an atmosphere that leverages who millennial are, and how they’ve grown up is key. We can use who they are to better support who they can become as professionals in our organizations. 

Also mentioned on this show: 

Connect with Thane Marcus: 

A Day-in-the-Life of a Culture Specialist

From varsity swimmer to one of Canada’s fastest growing companies, Talia Benson knows what it’s like to thrive in the fast lane. As the People & Culture Specialist at Inliv & Wello, two companies dedicated to pioneering a new frontier of healthcare & workplace wellbeing, Talia has a lot to share with us about building a strong workplace culture. We take an inside look at the day-in-the-life of a person whose sole job is to focus on the culture of an organization… you may be surprised how much is on her plate and how pivotal her role is in the growth of her companies! 

Some questions I ask: 

  • Contentious issue… should there be a difference between HR and the People/Culture function within your organization? 
  • What does the day-in-the-life of a culture specialist look like? 
  • How would you measure the success of a launch to a new performance management/development system? 
  • How can you bring innovative culture technology & ideas to the table with limited resources & budget? 
  • Why should employees and companies place a focus on healthy living? 
  • How do we effectively navigate transformation to our employee wellness programs? 
  • What are the major differences you’ve seen in your experience working in an established business versus a startup? 

In this episode, you will learn:  

  • There is a difference between HR and People/Culture. We see the administrative role being critical and necessary from HR, but with People/Culture, there is a dynamic that is also needed, projects focused on culture-specific elements of the business. 
  • Tips for how to begin building out your People & Culture team. 
  • What it looks like to redesign your internal performance development programs. 
  • An industry “secret” predictor of high-potential hires. 
  • How to connect vision, mission & values to truly enhance your wellness program. 
  • The way to ensure your employees are living out the values of your company besides just putting them up on the wall. 

Also mentioned on this show: 

Connect with Talia Benson: 

Creating A Culture That Sparkles

Have you ever wondered what happens to those businesses you see on Dragon’s Den or Shark Tank? Well, today’s guest is one of those who has skyrocketed in growth, building a strong international reputation. Rachel Mielke, Hillberg & Berk‘s fearless leader is my guest today on The CultureING Podcast. Starting a jewellery empire from a prairie city in Canada of only 230k people is no small feat. From 2 commissioned pieces for Queen Elizabeth II and being featured on the red carpet at the Oscars, while becoming a staple jewellery brand for ladies all around the world. On this episode, we get the inside scoop on how Rachel built this wonderful organization, but more specifically, how she built a thriving company culture amidst the rapidly impressive growth! I’m just so impressed at Rachel’s character, helping women find their confidence and flourish, from the inside out. 


Some questions I ask: 

  • What was the moment when you realized company culture had to be top of mind? 
  • How do you know if people can rise to the challenge of being brave at work? 
  • How do deal with letting someone go? 
  • What does it look like for executives and leaders to invest in culture and keep a temperature check on their organizations? 
  • What other companies’ cultures have influenced the Hillberg & Berk culture? 

In this episode, you will learn:  

  • How to get to the heart of people in an interview. 
  • What it looks like to effectively stay up-to-date on the culture of your organization. 
  • How to make the decision to create a centralized HQ versus having multiple locations… and how to incorporate remote workers too! 
  • The importance of marrying points from your employee surveys with those from 1-to-1 conversations to understand the pain points in your organization that you need to address swiftly. 
  • The complicated task of integrating remote workers into your culture and setting them up for success. 
  • How it’s important to take the best practices and culture inspiration from other companies with a grain of salt and distinctly create your own unique culture. 


Connect with Rachel Mielke: 

Make sure to check out Hillberg & Berk’s Latest Collection