Does your team need performance support tools?

Be honest. How many times have you been taught how to do something, then, when faced with the need to recall that information in real life, realized you’d completely forgotten it?

It happens to the best of us. Many of us are so frustrated or embarrassed we can’t remember that we end up Googling for a solution that may or may not be correct, and things just get more frustrating or embarrassing from there.

What is Performance Support?

If you haven’t heard the term performance support, it’s a good one to be aware of. In basic terms, performance support embeds learning materials into the workflow at the exact moment of need. The purpose is to help an individual complete the task successfully. It’s like a little memory jog.

Performance support isn’t a new concept, but is still on its way to widespread adoption. Slow adoption could be for many reasons, but it’s possible we still carry the stigma from our school days that “cheat sheets” are bad. In school, we’re expected to memorize months of material and demonstrate our newfound knowledge on a final exam. Every once in awhile, you’d get a teacher who would allow you to bring a single sheet of paper with notes on it to reference during the exam. Favorite teacher ever, right?

Performance Support is NOT Training. There’s an Important Distinction!

There also seems to be a misconception that training and performance support are the same thing, and it’s important to stress they are not. They are two different knowledge sharing methods that work best in concert with each other. Performance support is a complement to training. It builds on the groundwork laid by training and improves overall effectiveness and results.

Take a look at the graphic below to better understand the difference.

Training vs Performance Support

Training May Be Solid…But You Still Need Performance Support Tools. Here Are the Signs.

Performance support is something most of us access on our own every day, but there are many great reasons to take an organizational approach:

  1. Your team/audience members are scattered throughout multiple locations or work “on the road” or “in the field” every day.
  2. Your team/audience members are at different levels of knowledge and skills.
  3. The success of your business depends on consistency across locations.
  4. Employees are handling equipment that creates concern for safety, but also operational efficiency.
  5. Training topics are complex and are best broken into small pieces and revisited.
  6. Training fails to change behaviors over the long term.

photo credit: Use MORE Post-it Notes