We sat down with Canadian entrepreneur and television personality Manjit Minhas. As the Co-founder of Minhas Breweries & Distilleries, Manjit shared insights on the challenges of the shifting workforce, and advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.
You’ve been on Dragons’ Den since 2015 and have invested in many businesses. What’s your advice on how to run a successful workplace?
It’s been a true honour to be a Dragon for seven years, and I’ve invested in dozens of Canadian entrepreneurs and innovations. A few tips:
Understand the marketplace and define clear key performance indicators (KPIs).
Don’t underestimate the importance of conducting careful, detailed market research.
You need concrete data on your ideal customers, the existing competition, expected growth and demand, market trends, and more. These types of insights are invaluable and help you make informed business decisions and goals.
You’ll also need to be clear on the four Ps: product, price, promotion, and place. They can guide the creation of your market research, marketing plan, and customer personas, and serve as a fantastic starting point if you’re not sure where to begin.
Create a fantastic team.
Businesses often overlook the power that culture and employee engagement can have on all fronts of the company, from recruiting to exit interviews.
Happy, engaged employees do great work, and company growth will quickly follow. Small businesses can attract rare candidates by having a positive culture, a strong career track, and good training programs.
The number one mistake entrepreneurs make is trying to do too much. Don’t try and do everything yourself. No matter your stage or size, there are low-cost and accessible ways to get some things off of your plate.
Don’t just build any team — build a superteam.
Implement the right tools for your growth strategy.
The number of apps, products, and SaaS solutions available is growing exponentially. Identify and use the tools that can help you optimize your business.
Thanks to the ever-decreasing cost of technology, even small businesses have all the tools they need at their fingertips.
What challenges do employers face with the shift from in-person work to remote work? How can we overcome these challenges?
There have been so many challenges for employers and employees shifting to remote work. Remote workers are more likely to overwork. When your personal life and your work are both under the same roof, it’s harder to switch off.
When does the work day start? End? Creating a hard line between work and home is tough and if you work for yourself, you might be in never-ending work mode, which can be exhausting.
Some tips to avoid overworking:
- Set appointments on your calendar for the end of the day to get yourself out of your home office. Maybe it’s an “appointment” to go to the gym or grocery shopping, or just to take a walk around the block. Maybe it’s an appointment to read the next chapter of the book you’re currently into.
- Similarly, set up reminders to take breaks. One member of our team has a recurring daily to-do list item to take a walk.
- Create physical boundaries between you and your workspace. The best thing is if you have a dedicated office space so you can shut the office door — or even lock it.
- Turn off notifications on your phone and computer so you’re not pulled back into work after hours.
Communication has been a real challenge for employers and employees also. The communication issue is compounded if some of your team works in an office but you don’t. You miss all the overheard discussions and cubicle wall meetings. You might feel paranoid that others are having meetings and making decisions without you — and you’d probably be right. Unless the company has built a culture of inclusion for remote workers, you might be out of sight and out of mind.
The only real solution is to communicate as much as possible — clarifying anything that could be a misunderstanding — and to be proactive in speaking up.
Technology hiccups are also a huge challenge for remote work. Nothing makes a remote worker shake in fear as much as an internet outage — or, perhaps, when their computer breaks. Both are your problems to solve.
For peace of mind — and to avoid delays in your work — have a backup plan. A mobile hotspot device like a MiFi or a cell phone plan that allows tethering can save you when your internet goes out. A backup computer — or maybe even a tablet — can get you through the day until you can get your computer fixed.
In your experience, what are the key ingredients for preventing employee burnout?
In my experience and research, poor workplace cultures lead to increased burnout. I believe there are six essential elements of workplace culture:
- Purpose. A lack of purpose or having an uninspiring purpose leads to a 39 percent increased odds of burnout.
- Opportunity. A lack of opportunities to learn, grow, and develop increases the odds of burnout by 16 percent.
- Success. When employees believe their companies think the bottom line is more important than people, there’s a 185 percent increased odds of burnout.
- Recognition. Not receiving adequate recognition for great work increases the odds of burnout by 48 percent.
- Leadership. A decreased trust in leaders leads to increased odds of burnout by 29 percent.
- Well-being. A lack of connection and decreased sense of belonging increases the risk of burnout by 56 percent.
Looking ahead, what are important considerations for employers who want to manage a productive and positive workplace?
Some tips on how to manage a productive and positive workplace are:
Recognize employees’ progress.
While giving constructive criticism helps guide people in the right direction, it’s great to also point out the good things your employees do. Acknowledge them individually and verbally show them that you’re aware of where they started and where they can possibly go to next.
Plan team-building activities unrelated to work.
While there are different positions in the workforce, it’s important to gather the different areas in your business under one umbrella. Plan social gatherings or games for the crew to help build relationships.
Trust your employees.
Delegate without micromanaging. Once you instill more trust, you both will learn. Start by giving employees more projects and ask for their input on issues or ideas for the company.
Make your employees part of the bigger picture.
Informing the team is key to running a successful business. In order to have great communication and trust, it’s great to talk about the company’s future and goals for the upcoming months or years. This will make them feel valued and demonstrate to them that their hard work is going toward something great for the company.
Prioritize a good work/life balance.
Employers and employees all share the commonality of needing to learn to balance good work with a good life. Embrace the importance of work, but also understand the importance of maintaining a healthy life.
Set clear goals.
Make sure to define the company’s goals that employees can work toward together. While working together as a team permits productivity, it’s also great to hone in on them as individuals and help set personal goals.
Celebrate both personal and team milestones.
As you set goals and track employees’ progress, it’s nice to take a step back from the work and see what everyone has accomplished. Make sure to celebrate the goals you all accomplished.
Don’t be afraid to switch it up.
As the business has a set regular schedule, it helps to add diverse routines throughout the day. Change the order of things or try to come up with a new way of approaching a common task. It doesn’t hurt to do something different!
Offer mutual evaluations.
Whether you’re the head of the company or an employee, it’s important to have both sides evaluated. By working as a team, you can communicate your concerns to one another and ask for feedback. This helps to create a sense of ownership.
Support innovation, whether or not it works out.
A great way to include your staff in making an impact toward the company as a whole is to allow them to innovate.
Try new methods and test run them together. By allowing this, the whole team can learn what works and what doesn’t. This helps them understand their challenges and encourages growth.
In order to let things run smoothly, make sure you’re consistent. While it’s great to connect with team members on a personal and relatable level, it’s just as important to act as the boss with everyone.
Take an interest in who your employees are.
While you may be busy with instructing employees on what to do next, it’s important to get to know them, too. Understanding employees as individuals is key to understanding what areas they excel in and how you can use those passions in your favour to help your business grow.
Provide tools for success.
While policy may be the sole focus at first, remember to think of creative solutions. Instead of giving strict guidelines, try to allow problem-solving to come into play. Create safe environments for employees to express their thoughts and ideas for the company.