Getting started with performance support at your organization

How would you like to boost learner motivation while also making sure that learning content sticks? To develop a culture of continual learning at your organization?  Sounds pretty good, right? Well, that’s exactly the logic behind performance support. This is a relatively new approach to learning. You can use it as a supplement to conventional training. In some cases, it can even replace classroom training altogether.

By Nicolas Macheda on Apr 10th

A smart alternative to conventional training

Are you curious about how you can introduce performance support at your organization? This article gives you the rundown on this high-impact approach, with some useful tips for getting started.

What is performance support?

Performance support is a learning method based on the following principles:

  • Continual learning: Learners have constant access to an evolving body of knowledge.
  • Learning by doing: Learners instantly apply the knowledge they obtain.
  • Knowledge on demand: Learners access knowledge at the moments they need it throughout their workday.

Here’s how it works:

You supply your workers with access to a rich body of relevant knowledge through an online learning platform. Whenever they encounter a question on the job, they search the knowledge base for relevant instructions, step-by-step procedures, facts or other useful information.

Then, they instantly apply the knowledge to solve their problem. That means they learn by doing, which solidifies the new knowledge.

It’s a great way to maintain a skilled, knowledgeable workforce at your organization. You can even use it for onboarding. The knowledge base provides a safety net and lifeline for all learners, even those who are still getting to know the ropes.

It’s also cost-effective and easily scalable. You can continually expand the online knowledge base without having to organize costly training sessions or take workers off the work floor.

What are the benefits of performance support?

Performance support overcomes two major challenges in learning:

  1. The forgetting curve
  2. Lack of learner motivation

Studies show that within as little as six days, learners already forget up to 75% of information they learn during a conventional training session. Forgetfulness rises as more time goes by. This is what learning and development (L&D) experts refer to as the “forgetting” curve.

Meanwhile, conventional training has another major setback. Classroom-based training takes place in an isolated setting. It’s detached from the learner’s everyday work environment. That makes it harder for learners to engage with the learning content. This has a demotivating effect on learning.

You can tell that’s happening when learners say things like “What’s the point?” and “Why do I need to know this?”

Performance support empowers learners. It gives them control over their own learning process. You provide the information they need, and it’s up to them to access it whenever it’s most relevant to them.

They no longer feel pressured to “cram” learning content during intensive, highly concentrated training sessions. And they immediately see the benefit of the knowledge, because they apply it directly to real-life work situations.

Optimizing performance support

Performance support always requires a solid knowledge base. To get the most out of it, start by creating a rich body of learning content. Effective performance support content is:

 

  • relevant
  • up to date
  • compact
  • quick to deploy
  • easy to access

The Employee-generated Learning (EGL) model developed by Easygenerator helps you create a strong knowledge base that ticks all these boxes. This model empowers your employees to create their own learning content and share it with others.

Start by selecting experienced employees who are subject matter experts (SMEs) on topics that matter to their peers.

Give your SMEs access to easy-to-use content-authoring software. Coach them in creating learning modules, tutorials, step-by-step guides and other useful pieces of content.

Include feedback options (like a net promoter score ranking system) for the content. This helps you spot areas for improving the content as you go along.

Why use EGL for performance support?

Adopting an EGL strategy makes it easier to cover your performance support needs:

The content is relevant.

Your SMEs understand your organization’s business better than anyone. They bring real-life experience and the perspective to the content. This keeps the content “in touch” with the learner’s actual performance needs.

The content is up to date.

Easy, user-friendly content-authoring tools such as Easygenerator let SMEs easily update learning content whenever necessary. They can easily modify existing content or create new modules. This keeps the content in line with real-life business conditions.

The content is compact.

With effective coaching, SMEs learn to create very compact nuggets of information. These give instant answers to the questions learners encounter on the job.

The content is quick to deploy.

You no longer have to spend weeks or months designing a training course. With the right authoring software, SMEs can author content and publish it within a matter of hours.

The content is easy to access.

With the right e-learning platform, your users can instantly access the content whenever they need it.

Some useful tips

It takes coaching and experimenting to get an EGL-based performance support program off the ground. As an L&D professional, you can guide your SMEs towards creating high-quality performance support content. Here are a few tips:

Narrow the focus

Encourage SMEs to think of the knowledge base as a “drive-thru,” not a “buffet.” Learners need “grab & go” solutions. They don’t have time to dig through mountains of information.

Keep the knowledge bite-sized. Each piece should answer one specific question. Avoid lengthy introductions and background info and get straight to business.

Keep it real

Performance support is so effective, because it answers questions in real time. Make sure your SMEs use realistic descriptions that correspond with what learners will actually encounter.

Use step-by-step instructions, including screenshot, screen captures or quick video tutorials.

Make it mobile

To ensure maximum coverage, use an e-learning platform that is fully optimized for mobile devices. That way, learners can access the performance support knowledge base wherever they are.

Performance support works

Performance support empowers your learners to perform more effectively on the job, with far less reliance on costly, ineffective classroom training. Learners feel more confident on the job, knowing they can easily reach for the knowledge they need, whenever they need it most.

It’s important to get it just right though. If the content is out of touch, out of date or difficult to navigate, then it has the opposite effect: it drives learners away.

EGL keeps your performance support program on track. Try applying the EGL model, and see how much more you can achieve with performance support at your organization.

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About the author

Nicolas Macheda is Easygenerator’s e-Learning Campaign Manager. French at heart but living in the Netherlands, he is passionate about Tech, Education and freshly baked croissants.

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