The Two – Way street called Feedback – Saahil Mehta [Interview]
About Sahil Mehta
Saahil Mehta is the co-founder of ResNet World and a decluttering coach at Path of Ahimsa. He helps in increasing profitability, effective feedback and managing the flow of work. His other interests include maximizing revenue and profitability through increased online presence and e-distribution for independents worldwide by driving more direct bookings. We hope to help our viewers with his amazing ideas about decluttering and creating a more synergistic and harmonious workplace.
We have the pleasure of welcoming Saahil Mehta today to our interview series. I’m Vanessa Rose from the peopleHum team. Let’s begin with just a quick intro of PeopleHum . peopleHum is an end-to-end, one-view, integrated human capital management automation platform, the winner of the 2019 global Codie Award for HCM that is specifically built for crafted employee experiences and the future of work. We run the peopleHum blog and video channel which receives upwards of 200,000 visitors a year and publish around 2 interviews with well-known names globally, every month.
Welcome Saahil. We are thrilled to have you.
A pleasure to be here.
So the first question I had for you Saahil was,
Can you please elaborate a little bit about your work as the decluttering coach?
Absolutely. So primarily I work with leaders who are struggling with mental overload to reach their summit through a five-step process, which helps them to live a more healthy, stress-free lifestyle with financial abundance. Decluttering is a word that some rich people automatically think it’s something about the material world.
It’s about cleaning out my closet or cleaning my home, but decluttering if you were to imagine, if I put all these weights around your feet and then ask you to run, whether that weight is some baggage from the past relating to the mental clutter you have, it could be physical clutter. It could be your body that’s getting in the way because of health issues.
These are all the things that are preventing you from soaring to new heights to achieve greatness so that tools that I share with the audience and the process that I have is really in decluttering from the material world, the body, people and the mind so that you can reach your greatness.
That is such a wholesome topic. That’s really interesting.
So how do you think employees underperform and how can an organization fix that issue?
So this is a great question. The key here is direction and purpose. Am I doing this job just to get my salary at the end of the month? Is that also how the employer makes me feel? It is two ways, it could be your mindset, it can be their mindset or a combination of the two. Where are you going to get the best results from me if I’m your employee? If I believe in your vision I believe that what you’re doing is great for the society and great for the world, it’s something that’s adding value and I feel privileged and honored to be a part of it.
“The key here is direction and purpose. Am I doing this job just to get my salary at the end of the month? Is that also how the employer makes me feel? It is two ways, it could be your mindset, it can be their mindset or a combination of the two. Where are you going to get the best results from me if I’m your employee? If I believe in your vision I believe that what you’re doing is great for the society and great for the world, it’s something that’s adding value and I feel privileged and honored to be a part of it.”
So if the employer wants to get the most out of me and I want to be the most productive that I can be, I need to believe in the direction that this company’s headed in and as long as I’m aligned with that vision you’re going to see phenomenal results.
That makes so much sense for an employee to give his best, he needs to know where the organization is headed.
Exactly. If you’re keeping me in the dark and not sharing information with me, this is your job profile, this is what you do. That’s fine I mean, I can get to a certain point, but if you want exceptional results where I am giving it my all I have to believe and that belief can only come in with you aligning me with your goals and your vision so that communication is absolutely key in order to get the results that any organization or any employees will like to give.
And as turnover of employees reduces, you won’t even have to ask me to work overtime if I am so passionate about it. I need to stay an extra half hour, 45 minutes, no problem. I am going to do that every down again because I believe and I’m passionate about where you are going.
So again, it all comes down to communication and communicating that key message so that we are all aligned. If everybody is going in different directions, you are not gonna get efficiency and the highest level of productivity. But all the people in the company are all walking or running in the same direction. Just imagine the results you can achieve.
According to you, what considerations does one need to be mindful of for completing the self-evaluation component of a performance review?
Wow, this is a fantastic question, you need to be brutally honest with yourself. You have to ask yourself not what is it that I want to highlight that look at me and let the ego kick in but ask yourself if I hide, am I happy with the performance that I have given over the last whether it is three months, six months or twelve months, which are areas that I would like to improve, which are areas I kind of let it go and could improve.
Such a combination of the two, one is my own skillset, which I feel I didn’t pursue to its maximum. The other one is, if the company will help me to learn this, I could do my job better, so it’s a combination right of what I may be able to do and what can the company offer me as well to elevate my performance?
Ask yourself if you hide, are you happy with the performance over the last whichever months the performance reviews under or do feel that, I could improve here I wish I did that better, but these were certain areas which I did really well, someone highlights them as well.
You are just going to keep blowing your own trumpet. That person on the other side is going to say that can I even believe this individual, all they’re saying is the good things? What about the areas of improvement? It is not a bad thing and bad is a very negative word.
I did not perform. It’s where can I improve? Always take it in a positive way with a positive light. By changing the words in your head you go from a negative state of mind to a positive state of mind. Always look at how can I improve as if you’re living a life with your glass full, you never can improve, right? You know everything there. If you are like a sponge, and you say I want to absorb that is when you start seeing results.
“I did not perform. It’s where can I improve? Always take it in a positive way with a positive light. By changing the words in your head you go from a negative state of mind to a positive state of mind. Always look at how can I improve as if you’re living a life with your glass full, you never can improve, right? You know everything there. If you are like a sponge, and you say I want to absorb that is when you start seeing results.”
So it’s not only about quantity, but actually having a conscience and giving your best.
Yeah. We all have our ups and downs right? Days where I perform better and days where I don’t perform as well, but again, I have to be brutally honest with myself and be aware. Why is it that I did not perform well today? Is it because of something someone said to me? Did I miss the bus? And hence I was running and barely made it to work, so my mindset wasn’t straight? Did I eat something that didn’t suit my body? Did I get a bad night’s sleep?
Start becoming more aware of when you’re doing well and when you’re not doing as well because that helps you to self evaluate continuously and say okay, on the good days, these are the things that happened. How can I replicate that again and again? So that my performance gets better and better and better.
That’s really true.
So how do you think leaders ensure their feedback translates into impact?
I love this one. Two-way communication is absolutely key. So let’s just take a scenario where I am the leader. You are the person who is getting the performance review or feedback. Now, if this is me talking and you do a bit of this nodding your head up and down and saying okay, okay, okay, then once I’m done talking I say, okay, thank you. You can leave now. Have I acknowledged that you actually understood what I am saying? Have I acknowledged that you are crystal clear? Did I even ask, do you have any questions? Because maybe there are some questions as well.
So that’s one component of making sure that whatever you’re saying is understood, let me elaborate a little bit on that as well, because it is the component in here that’s very important, which is going to go both ways, by the way, because even when the employer asks, the employees and the employees also have to ask back right, if they’re not clear on something and if they also keep their mouth shut or their mind starts going off in some different direction, both may fail at something call listening.
What is the type of listening that I am speaking about? Imagine yourself on an airplane on a domestic flight traveling from one city to another and you’ve been on a domestic flight maybe 50-100 times over the course of your career so far. Now, when you hear the announcement regarding how to wear your seat belts and how to wear a life vest, you’re listening. But you’re not really listening. I call it passive listening, right? Because you heard it so many times before and say I know this and you are reading a book or speaking to a passenger next to you or listening to your music, now the listening that I am talking about is active listening.
It’s the one where, for example, I tell you, listen, I am going to tell you five numbers right now. If you can repeat those five numbers back to me in the exact same order, you’re going to win ten lakh. Now I get your attention and you’re listening so carefully because, you know if you make a mistake, you lose the chance of winning that ten lakh. So when the feedback is being given, is the employee actively listening? And the only way you can gauge that is by asking questions during the feedback.
“For example, I tell you, listen, I am going to tell you five numbers right now. If you can repeat those five numbers back to me in the exact same order, you’re going to win ten lakh. Now I get your attention and you’re listening so carefully because, you know if you make a mistake, you lose the chance of winning that ten lakh. So when the feedback is being given, is the employee actively listening? And the only way you can gauge that is by asking questions during the feedback.”
Is that clear? Would you like me to clarify anything? or even better, can you please repeat back to me what you understood?
And the same way when the employee is asking the employer about questions If you feel that it’s not clear, ask questions as much as you want to or need to ensure that to align because the worst thing that can happen is that you both walk out of that room and the employer thought he spoke about East and you understood West. So again, it’s a two-way communication where active listening is absolutely critical in order to have that understanding between the two.
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I think the employee also needs to feel like he is valued and heard.
Yes, for sure. I can’t imagine feedback happening where one person speaks, the other one listens, and then that’s the end of it. It is also a great opportunity for the employees to raise certain things and request, for example, I would love to learn this that would help me to do my job the way that you would like me to do, I’m excited.
It’s a great way to connect with people at two different levels and use that opportunity because you don’t have reviews every day. This is that one opportunity you have every quarter, every six months, every year, well, however frequent, it is to work on educating yourself and improving yourself. It is not a criticism right, it’s constructive.
So that’s very important for the mindset of both people when they go in is that if someone even says something, then you may not like to hear. We have to understand the intention is to grow. It’s constructive. It’s not destructive. So again, the mindset is also very important in this process.
I think it is a very fine line between how you take criticism and that defines how you grow.
Since you’re speaking about employee feedback, what are the unexpected places to look into?
So it’s all about formal versus informal settings. I don’t know about you but if I am sitting at a dining table at a corporate dinner and everyone’s in a suit and everyone behaves in a certain manner because it’s more formal. What if I said you know what, I would like to communicate in a different way and how about I organize an off-site where it’s half-day or a full day with the family or without the families, where we are just doing team-building exercises.
Now all of a sudden in team building, it’s very important for the management to portray this is that here we are all working together as equals to try to win whatever new challenges that they’re giving us right at the team-building off-site if we are all equal. I am going to feel much more comfortable opening up and sharing with you because it’s a more casual setting and when we are all suited up and in ties and now having these shorts and T-shirts doing all these activities, which in some cases even involves some sports, whatever it might be. Now it’s a casual setting. I’m more relaxed.
We can have a conversation. I’ll probably be more open to you. But if we’re going to be at a table sitting opposite each other’s suit tie, very fancy in a boardroom setting. My mind is not gonna be relaxed. It’s gonna be more focused on thinking over I better be careful on what I say or do here. So how about trying those informal activities, those off-sites or anything that’s informal, where the other person can let their guard down and just have a casual conversation and there’s so much you can get from one another through a casual conversation.
The environment plays a really huge role in the way people behave.
So with the increase in the millennial workforce, the gig economy is gaining a lot of momentum. How do you think gig workers fit within the current organizational set up we have right now?
With the challenging times that we’re facing right now, there are a lot of companies including mine, where when things start to open up and business starts to flow again in some roles, which maybe I’m trying out or new verticals that I might try, do I really wanna have a full-time employee over? Or will I say, you know what, let me go hire one of these millennials who, anyway, is not always looking for something full time they also want to try something out.
Even, they have to do something on a project basis or on an independent contract basis that they’re providing their service. So you’re hitting two birds with one stone here because companies will be reluctant to hire full-time employees, especially for new projects or new verticals, because they’re trying it out and they don’t know what the outcome may be, and on the other side they’re this person who is also happy to not make a full-time commitment because they also want to see, how is the company, how is their flexibility, the millennials who prefer flexibility in terms of hours in terms of days of the week they work in terms of is this the right company for me? Do I believe in what they’re doing?
So both sides are happy, and the way you can even look at this, if I may, is an engagement before you get married, it could turn into full-time employment because, maybe both parties say, hey, we like working with one another. Let’s make this more formal, and if it doesn’t work out for whatever reason, then it’s okay. The commitment wasn’t there both are happy because they came in with the temporary mindset anyway, which was project-based or time-based.
I do believe the gig economy is going to grow at a very rapid pace just because people want to try before they commit. Now there is a little bit of fear in people and this helps to alleviate that fear because when I hire you full time I’m also under a lot of pressure in the interview, right. Did I hire the right person? If I have flexibility, I don’t want to put too much pressure on HR or the interviewing process. As long as you check certain boxes which are important to us, as a company, we say, okay, let’s move forward.
“I do believe the gig economy is going to grow at a very rapid pace just because people want to try before they commit. Now there is a little bit of fear in people and this helps to alleviate that fear because when I hire you full time I’m also under a lot of pressure in the interview, right. Did I hire the right person? If I have flexibility, I don’t want to put too much pressure on HR or the interviewing process. As long as you check certain boxes which are important to us, as a company, we say, okay, let’s move forward.”
I think the freedom that exists between the two parties also helps in improving productivity.
I’d even like to say this in our company, in one of my companies, ResNet World, where we work with independent hotels. I’m saying this because it’s very relevant to the gig economy. We signed a contract with them, which our competitors usually signed two or three-year contracts that are locked in with high penalties if you leave.
We signed a one year contract, but we only lock the person in for three months. And we say after that if you want to stay, you stay. If you want to leave, you leave. I am referring to our client. Why do we do that? So this is the mindset I wanna share with you here is if things are working out, will continue working. But if for whatever reason, things are not working out, we part on good terms without trying to penalize one another and put the other one down.
Now that is similar to what we just spoke about in the gig economy is that let’s work together, if it’s working out, we will continue to work together if it doesn’t we will part ways. I wish you the best of luck.
Both can have a choice here, it’s not just up to one person
So Saahil are there any thoughts you want to leave our viewers with?
And next thing you know is a big distance and a wall if you wanna call in between two colleagues over an assumption, let me give an example. You came to the office today and you sit next to me and you didn’t greet me. I can think of who she thinks she is, she thinks she’s above me doesn’t even have the decency to say hello or good morning?
Maybe you missed your bus you came running to work or you’re really stressed you had to send out an email within 60 seconds otherwise your job was on the line and I could have just asked and said, are you okay is everything fine? It’s not like you not to say good morning and give and show compassion and love and reach out.
And then you’ll mean, thank you I’m really struggling. I missed my bus. I have to send his mail out. The management is depending on this for the meeting that’s about to start in a few minutes could you please help me with this? Thank you so much for helping.
Now, instead of a distance occurring between the two of you, you became closer and you became more of a unit. So let’s stop with those assumptions and understand from the other person’s perspective so that we don’t let crazy stories blow up like a volcano.
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This is so beautiful. Everyone has their own story and we shouldn’t let trivial things bother us down.
Thank you, Saahil, this was amazing. I really enjoyed it was really inspiring to me and I am sure it will be for our audience as well.
Absolutely it was my absolute pleasure. If anyone wants to get in contact with me please share my details. Also I am sharing tips on a frequent basis on social media whether it’s on Instagram or Facebook and I will start sharing more and Linkedin as well. So feel free to reach out to me.
Sure, Thank you so much for joining.
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