Performance Support – Say again!

As Seymour Papert, a famous educator said “You can’t teach people everything they need to know. The best you can do is position them where they can find what they need to know when they need to know it”. The complexities of the world today have made access to knowledge a part of our daily working routine. Employees need access to real-time and on-demand information in order to do their jobs effectively.

This means that the line between working and learning is blurring. Smart organizations have realized this fundamental shift and are trying different means to complement and amplify their training efforts by offering their employees support to perform successfully on the job. Performance support in fact is nothing but ‘learning at the time of need by embedding learning into the context of an individual’s work’ thereby helping solve business problems.

Effective Performance Support gives employees access to information to apply a skill, solve a problem or understand how to adapt to a new practice related to their performance. The information is accessible at the employee’s point of need and only requires a short amount of time for the individual to refer to the materials needed to get their work done. While the goal of traditional training is on learning a new skill or knowledge, the goal of performance support is to accomplish a specific business task. Let’s take a few examples:

  1. Infrequent but important work tasks making it difficult to remember such as filling out tax returns of employees
  2. Complex decision points such as determining the best medical insurance product
  3. Creating a cheat sheet to list the most important features of a new product while a more detailed online training module is being created

Key to note is that successful Performance Support identifies learning outcomes that are tied to bottom-line business results, such as tying customer support training outcomes to sales results. After all, the goal of performance support is to get work done.