Q&A: The Significance of Feedback in the Corporate World by Swara Parab

 

Q: Can you share your journey into HR and your current workplace?

I began my HR career with a strong interest in engaging with people, leading me to specialize in HR over the past seven and a half years. My journey has evolved from operational roles to a strategic HR Business Partner at Quantiphi, where I find fulfillment in making impactful contributions to the organization. The transition to an HRBP role became evident during my tenure at Zeta, influenced by mentors who modeled the significance of strategic HR in corporate operations.

Q: What do you think about giving and receiving feedback?

I believe in the significance of valuing feedback from both employees and individuals, as it has contributed significantly to my personal growth and career. While acknowledging that there is always room for improvement, the constructive comments I have received have proven invaluable.

Receiving feedback and acting on it are two important parts of feedback.

  • Personalized Engagement: Regular one-on-one meetings with each team member every three months ensure effective utilization of their ideas, foster a human connection, and facilitate real-time feedback.

  • Feedback Integration: The process involves not just receiving feedback but actively acting on it. This approach contributes to a dynamic feedback loop, enhancing the connection with the 300 to 400 individuals I collaborate with and ensuring continual improvement.

From a business point of view, surveys are one of the most common ways we get feedback. I make sure that this feedback gets to everyone in the company through a variety of means, such as monthly follow-ups on leads, thorough reports, and steps that can be taken.

It's not enough to just give feedback; you also need to show managers what they need to do and keep track of their progress. I use this method, but I understand that it might be different for other groups. Still, getting feedback and acting on it is an important part of always getting better.

Q: How do you effectively communicate your feedback while ensuring a constructive and positive tone?

Effective feedback starts with a learning mindset from leadership. Rather than dismissing complaints, listen openly to understand the root issues. Feedback represents an opportunity, not a threat.

To encourage employees to share input without fear, delink comments from individual identities. Record feedback themes aggregately focusing on systemic gaps, not blaming any one person.

Clearly communicate the changes inspired by their collective input. This closes the loop transparently, building trust that all voices shape decisions.

Additionally, frame feedback conversations around mutual growth rather than judgement. Ask curious, non-accusatory questions to unpack why certain processes may be ineffective. This constructive, problem-solving tone sets the foundation for continuous, bidirectional learning.

With patience and courage, even difficult feedback can illuminate blindspots. The goal is to seek truth together, not confirm preexisting notions. This spirit of self-reflection and willingness to question what we know makes progress possible.

The focus should remain on understanding different vantage points and uncovering where things can improve - not targeting individuals. This fosters a culture where everyone contributes to positive change.

Q: How do you establish and cultivate a positive organizational culture on a large scale?

In my opinion, the last step in feedback is for workers to give their opinions without being anonymous. Many businesses still use tools like Mentimeter and Google Forms that don't require email identification. However, it's not very normal for businesses to encourage feedback that isn't anonymous.

It's important to encourage feedback from both known and unknown people. The feedback itself, not the person who gave it, should be the main focus.

We value ideas equally, so we give feedback from both named contributors and anonymous contributors the same amount of weight. This method can be used for feedback from both workers and managers.

We follow a structured process that includes making a feedback road map, holding regular feedback calls, and using good poll tools like those on Twitter. All of these things work together to create an environment that is open to feedback at every stage, which encourages ongoing growth.

Q: How do you manage feedback that might cause conflict within the team, ensuring work continues smoothly?

Handling feedback in a diverse team, especially when emotions run high, requires a nuanced approach. Creating specific forums for upward feedback, where team members can share their perspectives with management, is crucial. To effectively manage feedback in the workplace, it’s crucial to separate the process into two parts: fostering a gradual cultural shift towards openness and training both givers and receivers to handle feedback constructively.

- Fostering a Gradual Cultural Shift:

- Introduce structured forums for upward feedback, making it a regular part of team meetings or one-on-ones.

- Highlight the importance of openness and receptivity from managers, signaling that feedback is welcomed and valued.

- Training on Giving and Receiving Feedback:

- Provide training sessions or workshops on constructive feedback techniques, emphasizing empathy, clarity, and objectivity.

- Encourage practice and role-playing scenarios where employees can experience both sides of the feedback process, improving their communication skills over time.

Creating specific sessions for upward feedback can help normalize the practice, making managers appear more approachable. However, simply setting up these forums isn't enough.

Both managers and employees should be coached on how to give and receive feedback in a manner that promotes growth and understanding, ensuring that feedback leads to positive changes rather than conflicts.

Q: Are there any actionable steps for individuals or HR professionals to ensure a constructive approach to feedback?

Ensuring feedback is constructive requires self-awareness and empathy from all parties involved. Here are some tangible actions individuals and HR can take:

First, recognize that the perception of feedback is subjective based on one's vantage point. Seek to understand the context behind comments before reacting. Ask clarifying questions if the intent seems unclear.

Second, respond to feedback with an open and curious mindset. Even if it does not align with your own views, listen for the potential truth rather than getting defensive.

Finally, have an ongoing dialogue to gain collective insight. Continuously discussing varied perspectives builds understanding and enables more balanced judgments. Rather than making broad assumptions, focus on specific instances concretely.

The goal should be to uncover blindspots in a spirit of good faith, not confirm preexisting notions or assign blame. Progress requires patience, courage, and the willingness to question even our own embedded beliefs.

Q: How have feedback cultures evolved from Gen X through Millennials to Gen Z, and how might Gen Z's influence standardize feedback in the workplace, similar to Millennials' impact on gender equality?

I have noticed that the organizations I have been involved with, both currently and in the past, tend to be relatively young. In my previous position, the average age was lower, and as I look ahead to 2025, I expect that approximately 70 to 80 percent of the workforce may be from Gen Z.

As I interact with this demographic on a daily basis, my inbox is often filled with inquiries and suggestions. Gen Z members are proactive in seeking improvements, whether it's in processes or the recently introduced tools. Not only do they point out issues, but they also propose solutions, which is a positive characteristic that I have observed.

While their enthusiasm is commendable, it is important to carefully consider the feasibility of implementing all suggestions. However, depending on the dynamics of the organization, I believe that Gen Z could have a significant impact on the feedback culture. They appear to be ready to bring in a fresh perspective, although it may happen gradually.

Do you work in HR?

Email abhash.kumar@springworks.in and let’s talk :)

Note: All views expressed in this interview are personal and not linked to any organization.