On a regular day at Booking.com I will probably interact with 40–50 people. The interactions can be discussions around hypotheses for experimentation, brainstorming, experiment ideas, but mostly around providing and receiving design feedback.

Working in such a fast paced environment continuous feedback is what keeps us on the right path. It helps us stay aligned with our personal and team goals. Moreover continuous feedback is the medium to achieve personal growth and development. Imagine if you receive feedback in a stage where correcting actions are no longer possible?

Types of feedback and the BIO model

At Booking.com — we believe that good internal communication is key to our success. For a company of our size, it is even more important that we take the time to give each other useful feedback — so much so that the company offers extensive training in improving this specific skill. We learn to use language to ignite new ideas, improve collaboration, and share facts & ideas rather than opinions. Empowering our colleagues by providing valuable feedback is in our culture!

The BIO model we use is based on 2 types of feedback: The Motivational and the Developmental. The secret is in the balance of 4 to 1. Every 5 times we provide feedback we strive to provide motivational feedback 4 times and developmental feedback once. People prefer motivational feedback to developmental.

BIO stands for Behavior, Impact, Options. When providing feedback, two of these elements should always be present, irrespective of which kind of feedback you’re delivering. Always mention what was the observed Behavior and the Impact of this behavior. Additionally in the developmental feedback provide the Options for improvement and suggest how things could be done differently. It’s important to highlight that you suggest options and not enforce them while allowing the receiver to suggest his own improvement points.

How to give feedback

Feedback should always be initiated with good intention.

It should be based on facts: 
“I wanted to talk to you about the behavior that I noticed yesterday in the morning.”

The right timing:
The closer the time is to the time you observed the behavior, the greater chance you have to deliver the appropriate feedback.

It should be accepted as a gift:
We consume time and energy to provide constructive feedback. As long as the intentions are good, it should always be received as a gift.

How not to give feedback

Don’t judge:
“You shouldn’t talk loudly on the phone during working hours. Everyone hears you!”

Don’t be vague:
“I see often that when you talk to your colleagues your communication style is not appropriate”

Don’t base your feedback on other people’s opinions:
“The team told me repeatedly that you show negativity during brainstorming meetings”

Don’t use generalizations — like never, and always:
“I noticed that you are always unprepared for our meetings”

Don’t psychoanalyze:
“I noticed that you have been very grumpy the last few days and it looks like it is affecting the whole team”

Keep the feedback short and avoid inappropriate humor:
“Today I noticed your amazing energy in the meeting. Great to see that and would love to see more of it as it’s contagious. Kudos!”

Finally, sandwich the improvement point between positive feedback:
Example: “I noticed that you came back with a lot of learnings from the conference. It’s only been a week and I can already see the results”

BIO: I noticed that during our standup you attempted to interrupt David while he was explaining his idea (Behavior). The result was that David lost his train of thought (Impact). Would be great if next time you can allow him to express his thoughts and ask the questions later. You could also note down what you want to ask if you believe that you might forget it (Options).

Close with praise: “It’s great to see how engaged you are in our meetings and how you try to contribute. Keep it up!”

How to use constructive feedback in your daily life

In order to effectively provide constructive feedback, practice and careful choice of language is required.

Constructive developmental feedback:

Yesterday I noticed that when your colleague tried to create a google slide presentation you proactively approached him and shared our presentation template. This probably saved him a lot of time since he did not have to create his own template. Is there anything we could do to scale that to the whole company? Maybe a wiki page, or a shared drive folder… do you have any other ideas?

Not constructive:

I saw that when your colleague tried to create a google slide presentation you didn’t try to help him out. Why didn’t you share our template?

Success is not only our personal growth, but our contribution to helping others grow

Think about the next time you see something spectacular around you. Even if it’s a well made cappuccino someone crafted for you during your desperate need for coffee. What if you praise them for the art they just created?

Do you want to work with our Design Team in Amsterdam? See all openings here


Illustration by Leo Maia
Originally published on the Booking.com Design Blog