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Bansi Mehta of KORU UX: “Actions matter a lot”

Actions matter a lot. Above all I feel that being consistent in our behavior as a leader is of highest importance. Nothing confuses a team more than uncertainty of how a leader may respond to something. I have seen and faced this as an employee with my leadership teams and it can cause instability and […]

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Actions matter a lot. Above all I feel that being consistent in our behavior as a leader is of highest importance. Nothing confuses a team more than uncertainty of how a leader may respond to something. I have seen and faced this as an employee with my leadership teams and it can cause instability and disruption to work across the board. Being consistent in our behavior as leaders is extremely important for the team to thrive and for managing and contributing to a work culture where people can come forward and safely express their ideas.


As a part of our series about “How To Give Honest Feedback without Being Hurtful”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Bansi Mehta.

Bansi Mehta is the CEO and Founder of Koru UX Design Inc. She is fiercely passionate and driven to build a culture that helps people be their best selves at work. Strengthened by over a decade of power-packed experience, she believes that UX for workforces should be tailored to meet the needs of employees, managers, and business owners. A better enterprise UX does not only result in a happier work environment, but also boosts performance, productivity, and

Revenues. She has led the design of many healthcare products, applications, and tools with respect to user-centric design. She has pioneered the need for research-led design within organizations and proven her point of basing design decisions on insights, and not intuitions.


Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

I started KORU UX almost 10 years ago locally here in India and have since expanded. By education I am an engineer but ended up in the design space while user experience (UX) was emerging. I decided that I wanted to do something that was more creative instead of coding, so I learned how to design on the job. While working, I found there were gaps in the heirarchy of UX design so that’s where I came up with the idea to start KORU UX. My husband, Mouneet Mehta, had owned a digital marketing company and we found the synergy between that and KORU UX and subsequently found our niche areas which is what has led to what we are now.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

What makes KORU UX stand out is that we ensure that the end user is always at the front of our minds when designing. We understand the politics and hierarchy in the enterprise organizations, help companies adopt a design thinking culture and elevate the levels of user experience across enterprises.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

Years back, I was giving a sales pitch to a leadership and sales team. It was the end of a hectic business trip and in my mind I was going to give this sales pitch and go back home to my family. At the end of the sales pitch the response was, “Bansi, this is so good and we are interested in buying your company out.” I was taken aback because this was not what I was expecting. That day turned into a very interesting one. The prosoective client and our team got to know each other and we ended up getting the business and collaborating for a couple of years. I did not sell my company but I was honored that they were even interested.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I don’t take my mistakes lightly.

In the really early days — maybe 2011 or 2012 — was when we created our very first website. Back then, the websites were in flash and had more animation. I was proud of the website that we had made. One day, we found that a company in Pakistan had copied the entire site and they were claiming that it was their website and that it was the original. It was interesting because somebody thought that our website was good enough to copy which is of course flattering. There was not much that we could do about it — it was just someone copying our code and adding it to their domain. This is not necessarily a mistake, but a hiccup in my early on years of KORU UX that I look back on today and think how could this have been avoided and how can it be avoided moving forward.

What advice would you give to other CEOs and business leaders to help their employees to thrive and avoid burnout?

What I’ve seen working on both sides — with employees, with leaders, and being in a leadership position myself — is that being a good leader does not mean demanding less, but it means setting high expectations and achievable goals. A good leader must enable the support and guidance the team needs to succeed and ultimtaly meet the goals and client expectations in an orderly fashion. Their success is ultimtately my success and vice versa.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

Being a leader means living by example and inspiring the team to do more and do better. In the early years of KORU UX, I was working directly with the team and across different depearments. I sat with the designers for hours on end while they are designing, discussing and reviewing and providing feedback. One day I came across this book by Simon Sinek called Leaders Eat Last. The book talked about how the Marine Corps officers live by this motto where the leaders are always there and put themselves last and the team comes first. I thought, this is it. This book really helped me put leadership, in particular my leadership, into perspective. This is how I have grown KORU UX and developed a team of loyal and talented employees to support our vision.

In my work, I often talk about how to release and relieve stress. As a busy leader, what do you do to prepare your mind and body before a stressful or high stakes meeting, talk, or decision? Can you share a story or some examples?

I am a person who by nature worries a lot. I am restless even on a normal day. When there is a big talk or meeting, the more I prepare, the more at ease I am. For me, preparing and planning helps me the most. Spend time preparing. That is the biggest tip I can give. The more prepared one is, the more relaxed they will be and this will always come across in a work setting.

There are days when bad news can come that can shatter me. These days I have noticed that exercise works the best. No matter what my state of my mind is, when I start the workout, by the end there is always more clarity, more perspective and I am able to combat the situation in a better way.

Ok, let’s jump to the core of our interview. Can you briefly tell our readers about your experience with managing a team and giving feedback?

There are definitely two sides to this.

Working with a creative team you have a lot of reviews and must constantly be providing feedback.

I believe that no team is ready made or perfect and that’s not because you don’t have qualified, credible people, it’s just human nature. The way people take action and make decisions as individuals is different than when they do it in a team. Again, it changes as team characteristics and dynamics change. Hence, managing a team really means voicing out early on what is acceptable and what is not and setting realistic expectations.

Actions matter a lot. Above all I feel that being consistent in our behavior as a leader is of highest importance. Nothing confuses a team more than uncertainty of how a leader may respond to something. I have seen and faced this as an employee with my leadership teams and it can cause instability and disruption to work across the board. Being consistent in our behavior as leaders is extremely important for the team to thrive and for managing and contributing to a work culture where people can come forward and safely express their ideas.

This might seem intuitive but it will be constructive to spell it out. Can you share with us a few reasons why giving honest and direct feedback is essential to being an effective leader?

Sometimes we feel that we work together for so long and rules are set and people should know how to behave or how to produce a piece of work. I think that at the end of the day the reality remains that people cannot read your mind and there is so much room for assumption and misunderstanding even when we communicate. I feel that giving direct and honest feedback is essential. That’s what tells people what went wrong, what they are supposed to do and how to improve the next time around.

One of the trickiest parts of managing a team is giving honest feedback, in a way that doesn’t come across as too harsh. Can you please share with us five suggestions about how to best give constructive criticism to a remote employee? Kindly share a story or example for each.

There is a fine line between giving honest feedback and ensuring it doesn’t come off as harsh. What I think is most important is to be consistent in your tone and to make sure the feedback is honest and constructive.

We often work with the partners who have never worked with a creative teams before and they don’t know how to give constructive feedback. A response we sometimes get is “this is not doing it for us.” This is when we ask follow up questions and probe further to ask why and figure out what it is specifically they don’t like. This leads to actions and insights which allow us to then make the corrections to produce work that resonates with our partners and helps minimize the review process.

Sometimes people are afraid to give negative feedback. But, the purpose of doing a design review is to get feedback so we can do the next revision and produce better results. That is when we have to tell them to be as honest as possible because we want to do the best job possible.

How do you prevent the email from sounding too critical or harsh?

Early on in my career I had a manager who was located in the US while I was in India. There was an incident with a client that happened at the beginning of my day (after hours for my manager). I felt so bad and I spent the entire day living with that feeling and worrying. The first time I had a chance to call him I wanted to express myself and address the situation and I started crying over the phone which made me realize difference in communicating via phone, face-to-face, or even email. Much is lost depending on the form and style of communication which can lead to misunderstanding in a work, or even personal setting.

That helped me learn the importance of communication. Specifically, communication via email must be more diligent because there is so much room for misinterpretation. In emails, over communicating is much better than under-communicating. Especially today with the work from home situation, it is even more paramount that we give context in the emails especially when giving feedback and even more so when the feedback is negative. Be careful in the language and the words chosen, elaborate on what you are thinking and give actionable items to move ahead.

In your experience, is there a best time to give feedback or critique? Should it be immediately after an incident? Should it be at a different time? Should it be at set intervals? Can you explain what you mean?

The more immediate you are able to give feedback the better. There will never be a perfect time, but the sooner you address it, the sooner you are able to deal with the situation and improve the results.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I was talking to one of my friends who is an accomplished person in the software development world. He asked me if I’ve observed that in certain industries they discover that something works better, make it a protocol, everyone follows it and then they build on top of that. For example, many years back doctors realized to go into surgery, they have to wash their hands for two straight minutes and since then, this protocol has never been questioned.

He then said, “Why in our industry, the information technology industry, do we have this itch to always reinvent the wheel and do everything from scratch with this idea that I can do it better than the other person.” That got me thinking that it would be so much better if we could establish and accept certain things as standards and spend less time explaining the basics of UX design. If we can all think like this at large, it will uplift the whole industry and we can create better functioning softwares with a better user experience. Given that every business is a software business, we then have power of enhancing a lot of peoples’ lives that are using these softwares day in and day out.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

In design we live by the model that “no design is perfect and there is always room for improvement.” So is the case with life. If you have achieved the state of perfection today, that might not be good enough tomorrow. As the world around us progresses, we must always progress with it.

Do not accept that what worked yesterday will work today.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

https://www.linkedin.com/in/bansi-mehta/?originalSubdomain=in
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