Canada’s Fastest-Growing Company: How To Build a Better Culture

Caroline Schein

Caroline Schein recently joined Article, the company that has grown over 24,182% during the past 5 years as the VP People & Culture. As Canada’s Fastest-Growing Company, the executive team has its work cut out from them. Specifically, Caroline is responsible for building Article’s people and culture practices across North America. With more than 20 years of senior leadership experience in the hospitality and retail industry with brands such as Best Buy, a multinational consumer electronics retailer, and Boston Pizza, a North American restaurant chain, Caroline has an MBA specializing in leadership from Royal Roads University, and a MA & PhD in Human and Organizational Systems from Fielding Graduate University. She shares wonderful insights about the future of work & how to build a better company culture.

Some questions I ask:

  • 4:30 What is it going to look like for Article to be taken to the next level?
  • 6:00 As a new executive, how do you approach your first season at the company (e.g. your first 100 days)?
  • 7:18 How do you ensure the culture stays consistent as you onboard so many people?
  • 9:27 What is Article’s onboarding process?
  • 11:30 What does it look like to “own” the culture internally? Is it the role of the VP People & Culture or is it a shared responsibility across the entire executive team?
  • 14:30 How do we ensure we live & breathe our culture moonshot & values? Many leaders shout from the rooftops about having a great place to work, yet it doesn’t look like that internally.
  • 19:00 How do we ensure our organizations have two-way feedback, not just the lower-level employees receiving feedback, but also for managers from those they lead.
  • 26:15 What do you believe the future of HR is? What are you expecting from the HR professionals you will be hiring in the future? What is the HR skillset of the future?
  • 28:38 How do ensure there is a harmonious culture between the office environment of Article as well as your manufacturing facilities?
  • 31:55 What is your advice to job seekers? Beyond the online application, what should qualified candidates be doing differently to get a job at Article, or just to any organization? 

In this episode, you will learn:

  • 4:55 The culture now is not broken, it truly has been remarkable what the team has accomplished. Article’s has 5 core values – be good, be direct, be better, be adventurous, & be genuine – which ground everything Article does from their strategy to their operations. When addressing culture, in their case, it was more a matter of how to build from where Article is at now, and then becoming open and honest about what is it going to take, where do we need to be and how do we get there. 
  • 6:24 When joining a new organization as an executive, how can you make the transition as successful as possible & learn from the organization about what needs to happen. Here’s a hint, it’s all about starting from a place of listening and learning, while beginning to understand the business well.
  • 7:50 The best people & culture systems that can be put in place to ensure that culture stays strong during intense periods of scale.
  • 9:05 What success looks like when it comes to building a killer workplace environment where people (or Particles!) thrive.
  • 9:50 How onboard makes a big deal out of a new Particle joining the team. Onboarding is very serious to them and they do it well!
  • 12:30 The key to being customer obsessed, and sharing that heart for customers across the entire company, especially the executive team.
  • 19:30 How Article is still refining its performance management processes and figuring out a way to provide feedback to leaders, not just the other way around.
  • 22:37 The fact that accolades and awards are always a secondary priority to employees being happy with where they work.
  • 26:40 Caroline’s charge to any new employee, the great new hire, is someone who’s focused on knowing the business. HR professionals specifically need to truly be a partner, making sure that you understand what problems the business is trying to solve, and how to do that through the people & the culture.
  • 28:18 How the future is looking both at employee engagement, but even further to the employee’s health & wellbeing
  • 33:00 A look at Article’s recruitment process and candidate screening. 

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Connect with Caroline:

More about Article:

Article is the easiest way to make your space look beautiful.

Right now, Article is all about no fuss entertaining. From lounge-able poufs and sectionals to stackable chairs in the event of extra guests, Article is here to help you make this entertaining season stress free and beautiful.

Furniture shopping is famously terrible. Overeager sales people, poor quality pieces, interminable shipping periods… the works. That’s why Article decided to change the way that people shop for furniture. Instead of schlepping to a warehouse to shop for particle board, Article’s online catalogue features high quality pieces that you can browse right at home. Article’s team of designers have an eye to today’s trends, but focus on timeless design and great quality. Plus: in-stock items ship in two-weeks or less.

“I don’t believe in reference checks…”

Michel Falcon

Michel Falcon is an entrepreneur, international keynote speaker and author who leverages his People-First Culture™ philosophy to create customer experience, employee engagement and company culture strategies to grow businesses. Often he has an unconventional opinions like not using reference checks in his hiring process. He is the author of the best-selling book, “People-First Culture: Build a Lasting Business by Shifting Your Focus From Profits to People” and the creator of the Team Operating System online course. Michel also operates a portfolio of restaurants and venues in downtown Toronto. His venues have grown to earn tens of millions of dollars in revenue with more than one hundred and fifty employees in less than two years by using the same strategies he’s going to share with us today. He has been hired to advise companies like Subway, Verizon Wireless, Alfa Romeo, Electronic Arts, and many others globally recognized brands.

Some questions I ask:

  • What has been a triggering moment in your career that lead you to develop a passion for company culture?
  • What are some of the tools leaders and organizations can use to understand and create a better culture?
  • What will be the shift in how we hire based on trends and changes we are seeing in employee behavior and expectation?
  • How do we change our hiring practices to find the most aligned candidates? 

In this episode, you will learn:

  • How Michel started his career working at McDonald’s.
  • What to do with the Gen Z workers coming into the workforce and why he thinks they are open and like the idea of entrepreneurship.
  • How to stop hiring toxic employees.
  • How to understand and create a better culture – the interview process, have the corporate courage to not hire the great candidate that doesn’t fit the culture.
  • The importance of our parents in our careers – Your parents gave you the DNA to be the leader.
  • He does a lot but it comes back to company culture, employee experience, customer experience.
  • Why Michel Falcon doesn’t like calling his team “staff”, or like it when they call him “boss”.
  • What leaders who have side-hustles should do to build a productive team… and how they can work with their team members who also have side-hustles.
  • Give a second look at reference checks. Recognize that you are relying on other people’s judge of character. You may benefit from trusting your own gut than someone else’s.

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