3 Ways to Get Started With Performance Support

Ask leading learning and training professionals what 2015 will look like, and you’ll probably get an answer something like Professor Allison Rossett’s, who says, “Executives and their people prefer answers, guidance, and support at the moment of need, in bite-sized chunks that are targeted to the task or question at hand.” Instead of lengthy classroom courses, more and more industry leaders are turning to “mobilized” and “miniaturized” training. Or, in so many words, performance support.

Performance support is contextually-embedded tools or content that support the user in the moment of need, and, ultimately, should help that user deliver better performance. This umbrella term comes in the form of a salesperson equipped with the latest product specs on her phone, or a nurse referencing a new insulin pump to better explain it to a patient. But while performance support may be a simple concept to understand, it is often not so easy to implement. Here are three ways to start thinking about performance support, so that you can take the next steps toward implementing it in your training program.

1. Analyze your needs.
Start by taking stock of your current needs–where does your team often fall short on deliverables, or what roadblocks do they face that could be made easier? As eLearning specialist Connie Malamed points out, “The analysis starts with the question, ‘What is the ideal performance and why is this ideal?’ and compares this with, ‘What is the current performance and why does this occur?’ You need to find out the best way to close the gap between the ideal and the current situation.

However, be careful not to overload your employees with pages of notes in order to close this gap. Performance support is at its best when it’s easily accessible, which typically means editing your content down to the least amount of information that will fill your employees’ needs. Or, you could make that content highly searchable, enabling employees to use it like Google, which allows them to pan through information quickly.

2. Assess your resources.
There are a variety of technologies out there that can be grouped under performance support, but knowing which ones are realistic for your organization is key to success. For example, if you’d like to implement a mobile app, tasking your IT department with building it may not be a valuable (or possible) use of their time.

Instead, search for options that integrate as many of the moving parts in authoring mobile content as possible, so that your processes for creating and distributing content aren’t segregated across departments. And, beyond putting performance support infrastructure in place, take note of whether your team has enough bandwidth to maintain mobile content, whether it’s small updates or a large overhaul.

3. Consider the bigger picture.  
Performance support may be a great addition to your learning and training portfolio, but it is by no means a silver bullet. Make sure that you compare your current, more formal training efforts with proposed performance support plans, and how they could be complementary.

Performance support is a great way to address your employees’ problems at their moment of need, but it doesn’t override the purpose of initial, formal training. Make sure that you’ve considered each training component’s purpose and how they work together, not compete against each other.

The bottom line:
Albert Einstein once said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.” While that ratio may be a little dramatic, it does seem to fall in line with how to approach performance support.

Instead of researching solutions right away, make sure that you fully understand the needs of your employees and what will affect the most change. Then, look for solutions that require the least amount of technical execution on your part, so that you’re focused on what matters: your employees, and how to give them what they need to do their jobs better.

To learn how Inkling can solve your performance support needs, request a free demo from our sales team.