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How Can “Performance Support” Support Your Organization?

— by Gauri Reyes

Employee trainingLearning developmentUncategorized


On average, learners forget 70% of the content we teach them within 24-48 hours of formal training.  Performance support is a way to extend formal training to the job site, reminding learners of how to apply their formal training to get results. Back on the job after training has been completed, performance support systems give learners what they need to know at the exact moment of need. When a learner is about to perform a task previously covered in training, the performance support system serves the purpose of their guardian work-angel, whispering, “Psst. Remember what we discussed in training? Use it right now. And here’s the targeted information you need to get it done.”

Unlike instructor-led training, performance support is not formal learning. Formal instructional methods can (and should) be supported by performance support, though. Formal training is useful for bringing learners to a common, base level of understanding. Performance support, however, focuses on application of that learning at the point of need, on-the-job, and for a very specific task.

Though online training and performance support are two separate instructional entities, with today’s technology explosion, LMS’s are in a unique position to blend some aspects of performance support into online training. The conversation that begins in formal online training can be embedded into on-the-job tasks through performance support. In addition, when workers self-organize to create community-based learning opportunities, performance support can be used to embed that learning into knowledge on-the-job.

Here are ways to blend aspects of performance support into your online training.

Make It Relevant

Performance support is relevant to the learner on the task level. So, at the point-of need, performance support needs to be relevant to the task by reducing the complexity or number of steps required to perform a task.

Designing all or part of your online training into “bite-sized chunks” using microlearning techniques helps to reduce the learning into something that is easily consumed at the point-of need. In addition, consider the way that the point-of-need information is packaged for the learner. Since you can integrate video, audio, presentations, and other files into your LMS, consider creating this content such that it can be used as a written, auditory, or visual job aid easily accessed for application on the job.

Make It Convenient

Performance support is conveniently accessible at the point-of-need. If you know where the information you need is located, but you can’t access it or it’s a hassle to find it, you won’t use it.

Information can be easily accessed if it’s well-organized into a learning catalog, or series of (short) courses, in your LMS. In addition, make sure that your learning is accessible anytime and anywhere so that the learner can take the information to the job site (which may be far from a desktop computer or internet connection). Give your learners advanced warning when they need to download job aids (documents, video, audio) in case of the necessity to access the information at a job site without an internet connection.

Make It Conversational

Performance support provides a quick, on-the job decision-making system.

Job aids (video, audio, document) that outline the steps needed for a particular task will support good decision-making. In addition, take advantage of social network integration and collaboration tools embedded in the LMS to involve a human element in the decision-making process.

Performance Support is Not Equal to Online Training, But…

Online training is not a full blown performance support system. And, no, performance support systems do not need to be technology-driven. But, bridging formal online training with performance support through your LMS’s technology makes full blown sense. You can take advantage of digitally-enhanced training and ensure that the information learned online is used on the job, thereby enhancing learning retention and improving workplace productivity.

Have you successfully integrated online training and performance support systems in the workplace? How has the integration contributed to workplace productivity?

Gauri Reyes is a talent developer and learning leader with extensive experience in roles ranging from software management to managing the learning function in organizations. She is Principal Learning Strategist and CEO at Triple Point Advisors and Founder of the YOUth LEAD program. Follow her on Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+.


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