Rohan Kumar, Co-founder & Chief Executive Officer at Toffee

Rohan Kumar is the co-founder and CEO of Toffee – micro insurance for millennials. He launched Toffee in 2017 to de-jargonize and digitize the insurance buying experience for millennials, making it accessible, relevant and rewarding.

Rohan has spent 17 years in various leadership positions, spanning a range of growth-stage and fortune 500 companies across AU/NZ. Prior to launching ‘Toffee’, he has spearheaded/founded multiple startups like Ballr, Startsmall & PlayUp and most recently had been consulting clients via DesignforUse – a product innovation firm with clients worldwide.

How important is Employee Feedback in today’s high-flux organization?

There is common buzzword within the startup ecosystem, even around hiring and employee relations. You’ll hear things like ‘growth hacking’ or ‘lean operations’, which translates into creative employees, trying to scale a business, working as a collective group of entrepreneurs.

But to have this take place – for employees to work autonomously and with a sense of ownership, you have to create an environment for these characteristics to exist. It’s vital to foster a deep sense of domain authority, allowing and encouraging staff to make decisions, find creative approaches, and bring solutions that you’re passionate about, and therefore have really thought through.

Feedback is the foundation for this. Everyone needs to have a voice at the table and feel that it’s theirs to have. There is no person that has all the answers, but identifying the real problems and working as a group to solve them – that’s what will build a successful startup, brick by brick, built on employee’s strengths, insights, and feedback.

How is Employee Feedback done in your organization? And what are the challenges you face?

Formal employee feedback is done per quarter during a KPI review. At Toffee Insurance, we set three types of goals: the company, individuals, and personal. We section them this way so that everyone can analyze their participation in the effects of the overall company, seeing how they play an important part of the largest aspects of our business. Individual goals help to aid daily task and provide clarity. Most importantly, we, as co-founders, sit with each employee to better understand their area of interest, their career goals, and how we can aid in their growth. By looking at these three sections separately, they link together and it provides clarity for employees on how daily tasks and company objectives can increase their personal growth vis a vie how their personal growth aids the company.

Outside of quarter reviews, we have a Culture Company and Grievance Committee, both made up of individuals from various departments. Our goal is to create an environment that is neutral and takes every opportunity to welcome authentic and candid feedback. The challenge, however, is to create a forum of feedback outside of these situations. As a small, scaling team there are a lot of learnings as well as growing pains. Setting aside time for interactive feedback sessions will be the upcoming challenge, as it will not be as instinctive.

How according to you can the feedback structure be made more effective so as to make business more productive & efficient?

I truly believe that it’s largely about creating space for each voice at the table, providing validation and acceptance of people’s thoughts and frustrations. This is especially important for teams with younger members, they have yet to really root themselves professionally. Leaders must aid them, by encouraging them to raise their hand, sport the red flags, and speak up where it’s important. This must be created, it does not happen overnight. Management and leadership must be proactive, constantly placing emotional intelligence juxtaposed with results.

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