Q&A: Anonymous or Open? Finding the Right Feedback Approach with Rishabh Bhargava

Join us for an enlightening Q&A with HR expert Rishabh as we explore the world of feedback processes. Discover Rishabh's strategies for transforming routine feedback into an engaging and enriching experience for all.

Q: What experiences and qualifications do you have, and could you tell us more about yourself?

I graduated with a degree in Hotel and Tourism Management, with a touch of business management. My career has primarily been in the restaurant industry, where I've worked extensively in HR roles, overseeing HR operations and regions. I started at Barbeque Nation and later made the shift to the tech startup world with BeGig. At BeGig, I manage HR operations, define policies, and cultivate a positive company culture. I've been with BeGig for over a year now, and my total experience in HR and startups spans about two years. My responsibilities include policy-making, HR functions, strategy development, and performance management.

Q: How would you differentiate between addressing the needs of customers in the hospitality industry and addressing the needs of employees in HR?

In many organizations, the focus tends to be more on clients and customers than employees, and this can be a significant mistake. My team and I prioritize our employees just like we do our external customers. We give their concerns and issues high priority because we believe that if our employees are happy and feel understood, they can serve our customers better. Essentially, as a human resources team, we represent the company's leadership and vision to employees, while employees, in turn, represent the company to the market. It's a two-way street, and we place great importance on this balance.

Q: How do you measure happiness, satisfaction, and team morale in employees, aside from basic indicators like productivity?

In my experience, fostering a culture where employees feel comfortable sharing their opinions and concerns is crucial. When employees openly communicate with managers and HR, it's a positive sign. Additionally, when employees refer friends and acquaintances to the company, it shows that they have a strong connection to the organization.

We also pay attention to how the company is perceived externally. Positive mentions on social media and employees sharing content about the company without prompting can indicate a healthy work environment.

In essence, while these aspects may not have specific numerical goals, they are reflected in employee behavior, discussions, meetings, and online interactions. We work to create an environment where employees feel heard and valued by the company, which encourages greater engagement.

Q: In the context of a team with mostly satisfied members and one disgruntled individual, how can you identify and professionally address the concerns of the unhappy team member?

Sure, to deal with unhappy team members, I believe in open and casual communication. During regular office interactions, I observe people's behavior and listen if they share their problems.

When I notice an issue, I talk to their colleagues or managers to get insights. If necessary, I have a private chat to understand their perspective and suggest breaks if needed.

Creating a culture where people can openly talk about their concerns often solves problems. Simple, friendly conversations can go a long way in addressing issues without complex processes or paperwork.

Q: How can you effectively identify individuals who might be causing disruptions or have concerns in a professional setting, and how can you address their issues while maintaining anonymity and ensuring it's in their best interest?

Sure, as an HR professional, I believe keen observation is essential. Signs of a person facing issues at work include decreased performance, frequent breaks, missed deadlines, and a reluctance to engage with colleagues. We often conduct casual interactions to assess morale during remote work, looking for these indicators. Maintaining anonymity, we talk to peers and team members to gather insights. Personally, I'd approach the person casually, engage in conversations, and subtly relate their concerns to work. I'd empathize and offer help while ensuring confidentiality. Sometimes, giving them time can resolve issues, but if needed, I'd be direct and compassionate in my approach, assuring them of support.

Q: What makes employee feedback essential, and what key elements, like anonymity and frequency, do you consider crucial for effective feedback?

Employee feedback is crucial, as it provides a platform for employees to express their thoughts and concerns. We gather feedback through various channels, including casual interactions, team discussions, and management meetings. The key is to maintain regular, open communication to stay connected with employees and gain valuable insights into their needs and ideas. In today's rapidly changing times, ongoing feedback sessions help us adapt and innovate to meet employee expectations and foster a sense of connection, especially in remote work setups.

Q: Can you share a quick example from your experience at BeGig where feedback processes like frequency and anonymity resulted in positive changes that boosted morale or improved productivity?

A few months ago, when we were primarily office-based but considering remote work due to COVID concerns, our employees suggested shifting to a remote setup. We embraced flexible work schedules, allowing people to choose their work hours. Additionally, we introduced a co-working policy for teams wanting to collaborate offline. The ideas of our employees were the driving force behind these modifications, which improved work-life balance while maintaining productivity. We've also experimented with strategies suggested by various teams and implemented successful ones. These changes have positively impacted our work culture and productivity.

Q: How can you make the process of collecting employee feedback enjoyable and engaging, rather than something employees feel they have to get over with?

We make the feedback process enjoyable and informal by conducting regular casual chats, calls, and brainstorming sessions with employees. Additionally, we're implementing a suggestion box where employees can drop their thoughts at any time. We also host CEO coffee chats once a month, where 15 employees can share their thoughts directly with the CEO. These approaches have reduced the need for formal feedback forms, and our social collaborations and casual connections with HR help gather valuable feedback.

Q: How can organizations effectively address generational differences in feedback and communication styles, particularly when tensions arise between different generations in the workplace, to prevent potential issues from escalating into full-blown problems?

To effectively address generational differences in feedback and communication styles, especially when tensions arise between different generations in the workplace, it's crucial to foster understanding and open communication between individuals. Here's a concise approach to handling these issues:

1. Facilitate Open Conversations: Encourage both parties involved to have open, honest, and candid conversations with each other. This allows them to understand each other's perspectives, work styles, and expectations better.

2. Provide a Neutral Platform: Create a neutral platform or set up a meeting where both individuals can discuss their thoughts and concerns without judgement. Avoid favoring one generation over the other.

3. Acknowledge Differences: Recognize that generational differences exist and are valid. Avoid stereotypes and assumptions about each generation's traits or work styles.

4. Use Collaborative Tools: Introduce collaborative tools and platforms that suit both structured and raw communication styles. This can help bridge the gap in how feedback is given and received.

5. Promote Empathy and Understanding: Encourage empathy and understanding between generations. Help them see each other's strengths and learn from one another.

6. Mediate When Necessary: If tensions escalate, consider mediation or conflict resolution techniques to facilitate a constructive dialogue and find common ground.

Q: What is your opinion on the level of anonymity feedback forms should have? Should the names of individuals providing feedback be completely hidden, or is it acceptable for the HR team to know who submitted the feedback?

From an organizational perspective, I believe that feedback forms should have a certain level of anonymity, but not complete anonymity. It's essential for someone, such as the HR team, to have access to the names of individuals providing feedback. This allows for effective problem resolution. For instance, if 30 people provide feedback, and their names are entirely hidden, it becomes challenging to identify and address specific issues. Therefore, it's valuable to know who submitted the feedback.

However, this information should not be open to managers, as it may affect their reactions and create tension within the team. Anonymity provides employees with a sense of security to share their thoughts and concerns without fear of reprisal. It's also crucial to train managers and team leaders to handle dissenting opinions professionally and build trust within the team. Open discussions and brainstorming sessions involving relevant team members can help address disagreements and lead to better decision-making.

In summary, feedback forms should strike a balance, allowing HR to see the names while ensuring anonymity from managers to promote open communication and problem-solving within the organization.

Q: How can you distinguish useful feedback from disruptive or impractical submissions in anonymous feedback forms?

To distinguish between useful and disruptive feedback in anonymous forms, we follow a structured approach. First, we segregate the ideas into two categories: useful ideas and those that might not be practical or beneficial.

For the useful ideas, we work on implementing them. To address impractical or disruptive suggestions, we discuss them during our regular Friday meetings and open forum discussions. We present these ideas in a different context, asking employees to consider the implications from various angles, including a managerial perspective.

This approach helps us gather insights and feedback from our employees, allowing us to make informed decisions. Ultimately, we aim to implement solutions that align with the organization's goals and are practical for our specific context.

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 organisation.