A framework for using LEON in performance management.

Bryan Smith

Bryan is an ex Pro Sports Performance coach turned repeat founder and startup advisor. He is the COO and Co-Founder at LEON.

Performance management using LEON sounds sexy as hell, right?

The idea of taking tools from the best of the best in high performance from such brands as McKinsey & CompanyFC Barcelona, and EXOS @ Google and implementing them into your company is an amazing thought.

We all want this idea of truly getting the best out of our people, all while they love our company culture and score high on your 6-month "engagement" survey.

But what your favorite professional sports team has, and you don't, is a framework for high-performance management.

A framework in which an entire company can drive to create hockey stick growth, from here to moon, all while your people are happy, healthy, and committed to the mission at hand.

That framework for high performance is what we are here to discuss today, I'm excited to introduce you to the...

The LEON performance framework

  • A single quarter block, broken down into three sprints.
  • Each block and sprint begins with goal setting and ends with a retrospective.
  • During each sprint, data is collected using LEON weekly Check-ins.
  • Growth Windows, influenced by Check-ins, will drive decision making, and determine the teams that either need support or can be challenged during each sprint.
  • LEON Playbooks can be implemented to either push performance or influence recovery in each team.
  • At the end of each sprint, a retrospective will be used to assess Check-in data, team support, and strategy implementation.
  • From there you carry those learnings over to the next block.

Having this structure allows us to learn and adapt (i.e. be agile) in the fastest way possible while ensuring the well-being and safety of our teams. Shall we begin?

The start of your quarter with LEON

Each quarter will be made up of three sprints, each lasting 3-4 weeks in duration. The term sprints come from SCRUM methodology.

It is important to acknowledge that ONLY ONE sprint is planned in advance (in detail). This is in contrast to traditional planning: in the LEON framework planning is ongoing through sprint iterations, while in the “traditional” approach planning is just one process that happens once in the beginning of a quarter. (Usually through goals and OKR's)

During sprints we iterate through the plan–do–check–act or plan–do–check–adjust cycle and rapidly adjust based on LEON Check-ins and Growth Window reporting to gain a better understanding of the context and problems at hand with our team members. In short, we're using this process to quickly iterate on how best to support our key asset: our people.

Each sprint has couple of elements:

  1. Sprint planning – Goals, team OKR's, objectives etc.
  2. Perform, collect data, iterate – using embedded feedback (LEON Check-ins) to adjust processes instead of outcomes (using Growth Windows and Playbooks). This also involves daily standup meetings and weekly one on ones – to gather feedback and to coach your team as needed.
  3. Sprint review – Reviewing results/outcomes of each sprint
  4. Sprint retrospective – Reviewing the sprint process, and making adjustments as needed.

There are two very important concepts in the LEON framework – embedded feedback using LEON Check-ins and adjusting process using Growth Windows and Playbooks.

Embedded feedback using LEON Check-ins

Embedded feedback involves utilizing weekly pulse surveys and LEON Check-ins to drive iterative decision-making. This is in sharp contrast to the traditional approach where at best, managers meet with their teams at the end of a quarter to discuss what happened and what went wrong. In the LEON framework we seek to build real-time feedback into the sprint process, so as a leader, you can pivot, adapt and run safe to fail experiments to make sure the sprint is a successful one.

With the traditional approach, managers either meet after a quarter to assess goals or drive conversation via one one one's. The problem with this approach is that we are not able to use the information to affect our planning and modifications – not to mention it lacks a framework for driving decision-making that both protect revenue growth and team well-being.

It is also important to understand that the aim is to make sure the data collected is prescriptive instead of general.

This is why when viewing reporting within LEON, we break our results down into simple and actionable recommendations. In one simple view, you can understand which teams need SUPPORT and which teams can be CHALLENGED or pushed harder. Plus you will get insight into understanding how your team is being impacted.

Growth Windows for the win

During your sprint, you'll have the power of your Growth Window reporting feature to drive decision-making. In one view, you can tell which teams are struggling with their workload, and which teams are primed to perform. This feedback allows you as a manager to adjust workload if needed, but also it gives you the opportunity to coach up your staff in a way that is both real-time, and actionable.

For each team, you will be presented with either a green, yellow, or red designation. We call these designations, Growth Windows. 

Each Window is broken down by team and track. We do this because this allows you as a leader to understand employee sentiment within a specific team/track, but also, the best way to support or challenge your teams at a given time.

  • Red Window means your team needs support within a specific track, and that there is a higher risk of reduced performance or that employee sentiment within the track is low.
  • Yellow Window means your team is trending negatively, and an intervention might be needed.
  • Green Window means that your team can be challenged within a specific track and that there is a lower risk of reduced performance, or that employee sentiment within the track is high.

Pro tip: you can learn more about LEON Fields and Tracks here

Using this "window" framework helps you as a manager better support both performance and well-being and leads to more sustainable company growth.

Adjust your performance plan with Playbooks

As we mentioned before, the LEON framework is about running agile sprints, which allow us to implement a plan–do–check–act or plan–do–check–adjust process of performance management. With the previously mentioned Check-ins and Growth Windows driving the check portion of this process, the next step is to either act or adjust the sprint plan (if needed).

That said, we want to try and not adjust or lower the goals if possible. 

What we recommend is to run "safe to fail experiments" or what we call Playbooks for the teams that need it.

Pro tip: you can check out all of our Playbooks in the Playbook Library

These Playbooks can range from adjusting or reducing hours, setting team or individual meetings to re-align on mission and goals, to even implementing something we call "peak weeks" to actually drive and increase performance. 

With Playbooks, we provide real solutions to employees’ problems right when you need them.

For example, here is a use case for a SaaS based sales team:

During your teams sales sprint, LEON provides you a Growth Window that your Inbound Team and Enterprise Team are currently at high risk of burnout. Instead of emailing HR and setting a meeting to discuss how to best help your team, a Playbook is automagically recommended to you to implement a “4 Day Work Week” for the next 45 days, and better yet, you can start the Playbook, customize it, and communicate it to your teams, in one click of a button, directly through the LEON Platform.

Some more examples of Playbooks:

Review, retro and repeat

Successes teach us to do more of what we did well next time. But we can often learn even more from failures: maybe one small tweak could have saved the entire effort. In any case, as decades of experience have shown, continuous process improvements sustainably increase quality and productivity. This principle is as true in user-experience design as in assembly-line manufacturing of automobiles. To keep getting better, we should periodically reflect on our methods.

Most importantly, these retrospectives help us plan and iterate on the next agile sprint in the LEON framework process.

But how do you run a quality retrospective, within the LEON framework? Well, luckily for you, we have a Playbook for just that.

It's time to evolve - and LEON can help you do that

Work has changed, and it's time to take on a smarter way of managing our people. The LEON framework is a modern and elegant approach to driving the “future of work” that we’ve been seeing with each wave of workplace transformation.

Creating a more resilient and “fit” organization, then, isn’t about providing wellness perks to your employees or bagels in the break-room, but it is about being able to understand wellness as a key performance indicator to sustained growth — and Wellness Intelligence by LEON is the best way to do that.

And like all good products, it has benefits for both parties: LEON is better for your business and better for your employees. That’s because providing timely, proactive, contextualized Playbooks, helps create a healthier, happier, and more resilient team of employees — that ultimately helps you both thrive.

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