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  • Writer's pictureMark Harbottle

The ACID Test - Feedback Scoring

Updated: Aug 23

If you’ve been following my recent post(s) on The Importance of Feedback, you’ll know that we score all feedback provided at Cronofy. Here is a short and snappy overview of the how and why.



Why score feedback?


Surely feedback is feedback. If people are giving it, then great! That’s what you want right?


Well, yeah sure, but I’ve learnt over my journey improving feedback at Cronofy that what people really crave is constructive feedback that provides something tangible that can be implemented to make them better in their role.


Providing a model and structure around giving feedback allows for consistent and high-quality feedback. Put simply, we score it so you know it’s as good as it can be, and you are helping the people around you to be better.


Scoring feedback also allows us to measure improvement over time. Readers of my previous post will know that I took a snapshot of the quality of feedback in Q1 (before I gave any training), again in Q2 (spoiler: we improved), and I’m doing it again in Q3 (with more context and more reliable deliverables).


If you could improve the quality of feedback to influence better performance, wouldn’t you want to implement that?


Small and simple scores


The classic ‘out of 10’ just allows too much room for bias, too much gut instinct, too much ‘how were you feeling on the day of scoring’. How can you differentiate between 6 or 7 out of 10. As our CTO once said ‘Grumpy Garry would score that differently’.


We’ve broken our feedback scoring system into 4 clear categories, with just 1 point for each:


Action

The specific action that led to the feedback being given.

Further interrogation: This needs to be clear. “When you were late for that meeting on XYZ date”, or “that call with client ABC”.


Context

Provides substance, often setting the context that helps the reader to understand the action further, or help make a connection to the action.

Context is often provided with an example, or phrases like ‘such as’, ‘like’ and ‘when’.

Further interrogation: Does it pass the 6-month test? If you reread the feedback 6 months later, would you know what it’s about?


Impact

Who it’s related to, who it had an impact on.

“I think it had a negative impact on the team and the rest of the meeting, as we had less time to cover all the points on the agenda”

Further interrogation: What about the impact was impactful? The action led to X which had Y impact on this person / group of people, which was postitive or negative because…


Do / Do differently

A suggestion of something someone could do, or do differently, to help them improve.

Further interrogation: This doesn’t need to be an instruction (people often assume it does). It’s about getting the reader to think about other ideas or paths they could follow. You’re not telling them what to do, you’re not (necessarily) their manager or their superior.



Hang on, just 1 point for each?


Yup. You’ve either done it or you haven’t, there are no half marks because that would be a score out of 8.



Interrogating the scoring system


We set aside time in our weekly management meetings for ‘feedback corner’. We take a few examples of feedback that has been provided that week and we talk about it; what’s good, what’s bad, what could be improved. Most importantly - what score would we give it.


It’s absolutely essential that once a scoring system has been designed that everyone is in agreement with how and why we’re scoring in that way. That’s where the 6 or 7 out of 10 scenario falls short. Keep it relevant, keep talking about it, continue to agree with the method to ensure complete consistency and accuracy.


We’ve taken a step further and we’re running feedback corner in our all hands with the whole company. We’re training people against the framework for consistency and efficiency. Check out The Importance of Feedback Part 2 for more info on that.



Summary


On the face of it, our ACID test and feedback scoring system is simple. That’s the point. There are no nuances, there is nothing left to the imagination. We’ve aimed to remove emotive influence and stuck to the hard facts. We’ve also set a really high bar, there have been times when we’ve argued over whether there’s enough context, or if the action is clear, but it’s these discussions that keep the scoring relevant and reassuringly ambitious.





Big thanks to Grumpy Garry who encouraged me to write this blog post.

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