Practice what you preach: How Learnerbly develops their feedback culture

June 26, 2023

Learnerbly is aVC-backed tech company that helps businesses including IDEO, ustwo andGoCardless curate the best learning opportunities to help accelerate the growthand development of their people.

Learnerbly’scompany values are: 

- Be your best self

- Own the destination,

- Fail, learn, grow fast

- Invite everyone to dance

- Practise heartfelt, radical candor 

- Build a rocket ship 

This blog explores an example of where the companyhas recently decided to invest time and resources in further developing one oftheir core values, practicing heartfelt and radical candor through feedback. They decided to seek out a tool tohelp develop a more deliberate culture of feedback and found the feedback app developedby Next Jump, the Deliberately Developmental Organisation(DDO). Next Jump originally developed their suite of apps for internal use toenhance different aspects of their culture but went on to make them availablefor other businesses to use free of charge. The Next Jump Feedback app wasdeveloped to help make the process of giving and receiving feedback easier andencourage real-time candid feedback. The app allows anyone to leave feedbackfor another person in the company and every person in the company can see allthe feedback that they and other employees receive.

I spoke to MelissaAndrada the COO ofLearnerbly, who designed and implemented the Learnerbly Feedback programme, toget a better understanding of how the Next Jumpfeedback app had been adopted across the company, and of the results so far, of thefeedback programme.


Key Takeaways onBuilding a Culture of Feedback

1.     Get everybody’s buy in before you launch thefeedback initiative

2.     Integrate the launch of the feedback initiative intothe natural rhythms of the business, so that it doesn’t feel like a disruptivething to do

3.     Invest time before the initiative in trainingyour team to be able to give and receive feedback

4.     Understand your team’s sensitivities and preferencesaround giving and receiving feedback

5.     Decide on at least one key metric to monitor howfeedback is being handled and track it from the outset


Melissa Andrada presenting the findings @ Next Jump


How did youapproach this project?

I come from aninterdisciplinary branding, L&D and strategy background. My approach was tothink about this as a marketer would: Who is my audience? How can we best reachthem? What's the best way to drive change? How do I ensure that everyone is onboard and able to participate? I wanted to launchthe app at the right time for the business, and make sure that it fitted intoour current processes so that it would have the most impact. To do that I thoughtabout how we could integrate it into the natural rhythms of the business, andthis is what helped me asses the best timing for the launch.


"Think of implementinga feedback, or any other culture initiative, as a marketer would: Who is myaudience? How can we best reach them? What's the best way to drive change? Howdo I ensure that everyone is on board and able to participate?"


How did youprepare to launch the feedback app?

Initially we ran anemployee survey to diagnose where our people were in terms of their level ofcomfort around giving and receiving feedback. In the survey we asked questionslike, ‘How comfortable do you feel about giving and receiving feedback, on ascale of one to ten?’, and ‘What's been your most impactful feedback moment andwhy?’ We wanted people to really think critically about feedback from theoutset.

I also led atraining session where everyone described their preferred ways of receivingfeedback, and two types of feedback emerged: behavioural feedback andproject-based feedback. While project-based feedback is less personal and mostpeople didn't care how that was being given, but if someone gives feedbackabout your body language, your confidence, or some weird idiosyncrasy you have,that's a lot harder to hear. We found that a lot of people prefer to have thiskind of feedback communicated in person and in private.


“If someone gives feedback about your body language, or yourconfidence, or some weird idiosyncrasy you have, that's a lot harder to hear.We found that a lot of people prefer to have this kind of feedback communicatedin person and in private.”


During this internaltraining session, we provided a forum for discussion to help people airout some of their fears and challenges. The forum captured how different typesof people like to give and receive feedback, which is now documented and easilyaccessible in an open Google Doc. It was reallyinteresting understanding how the introverts and extroverts on our team want toreceive feedback. For example, the more introverted types want to be able toread the feedback first and then are happy to talk about it; the moreextroverted are happy to just talk about it from the offset.


To supplement theinternal training, we brought in the external trainer Learnitect to run asession around how to have effective feedback conversations. The framework thatthey introduced is about context setting, fact-based communication, how to askthe right questions and defining actions, which really helped the new joinersget up to speed on the type of feedback culture we wanted develop within thecompany.


How have you embeddedfeedback back more naturally into the business?

We have a businessrhythm at Learnerbly, which includes Monday company stand ups and weeklyretrospectives on Fridays, and we have a pretty regular cadence of learningsessions. We are embedding feedback into the things we already do as part ofthe rhythm of the business so that it doesn't feel like we’re launching a wholenew initiative. We specifically integrated a feedback session into the Fridayretrospectives, where we ask people to open the app and give someone on theteam a piece of feedback. Our CEO Raj wants to build it into our Monday standup meetings as well.


"We are embeddingfeedback into the things we already do as part of the rhythm of the business sothat it doesn't feel like we’re launching a whole new initiative."


What metrics areyou focusing on?

It’s early days inthe implementation of the programme so we are still working this out. So farthe most important metric from a feedback perspective is the ability to givefeedback, especially as far as the more junior people are concerned, they feelless comfortable in that area. Other metrics that we will look at include theextent to which action is taken on the feedback received, and how many times amonth people ask for meaningful feedback. We are benchmarking our results tothese questions against the feedback we received from the first survey. Ourinitial progress has so far been encouraging.


What are other keyconsiderations for implementing a feedback culture?

Understand theoverall principles of feedback. Receivingfeedback is all about listening, not taking it personally and allowingyourself time to process and integrate it. As an individual, it’s important tounderstand how to interpret the feedback people give you, and how to takewhat’s relevant from the feedback and turn it into action, whether throughbeing coached by your manager or by self-adjusting your own behaviour.

 The best practicesaround giving feedback are:

•   Be specific and timely

•   Don’t make it personal – focus on the behavior oraction, not the person

•   Really understand how that person wants toreceive feedback.

•   Create a plan to act on the feedback

 If it's adifficult conversation you are going to have, I would also suggest doing a runthrough to practise the conversation beforehand. It’s critical thatyou get strong support and buy-in from the CEO. In our case everyone was onboard and there was no debate about whether this was important or not. We'relearning company after all, so we must eat our own dog food!


Feedbackis just one pillar of the science of building a great team and company culture.Success comes down to relationships and feedback is an extension of the muchlarger communication topic in your company. Feedback via the Next Jump app doesn’ttake the place of face-to-face meetings and regular communication, but it isvital to creating a true learning and development environment.


"Feedbackis just one pillar of the science of building a great team and company culture.Success comes down to relationships and feedback is an extension of the muchlarger communication topic in your company."


What do you hope to do next in order to growyour culture of feedback?

Buildingoff our documentation of the way we people prefer to receive and give feedback,we are creating employee empathy guides to outline our preferred ways to work.For example, for me, I have incredibly high standards for our team, and willprovide continuous honest and real feedback on how to you and your work cangrow. I don’t like meetings before 10am, or working past 7pm. I believe that20% of actions lead to 80% of outcomes.

I’ve also become quite fascinated with the notion of Recovery Programmes – orwhat I call Resilience Programmes, and how to design personal development plansthat help individuals act on difficult feedback, such as a lack of confidenceor micromanagement. At Learnerbly, we help connect people to the right learningopportunities to work with these difficult issues – whether it’s finding theright coach, class or community.



A feedbackinitiative must be done deliberately, gradually and must also be measured ina tangible way, just like any other vital function in the business. The timingof the launch and the roll out need to be planned to ensure it reaches itsdesired audience and is widely adopted. Test, measure and iterate. Think of itas a marketer would.

Let us help you develop a hybrid work culture that unlocks the full potential of your flexible work environment. Get in touch today to learn how we can help your organization thrive in the new world of hybrid work.