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Are you Performance Support ready?

Does your organisation have the infrastructure, integration, and commitment to implement Performance Support?

At Learning Pool, we keep our finger on the pulse when it comes to new developments in learning.  And we’re detecting that one of the hottest topics around is the re-birth of Performance Support.

Performance Support (PS) isn’t new. It’s been around for decades. But with interconnected, mobile and intelligent technology, it’s on the verge of delivering it’s great promise of better performance through just-in-time learning, where and when you need it.

So, are you ready?

How do we know if we’re ready?

Providing successful Performance Support doesn’t just mean installing new technology or reconfiguring your existing systems.  It’s also about learning design, organisational structure, and workflow processes.

To help you see where you’re at, Frank Nguyen has identified five key features:

  1. Is Performance Support embedded in your workflow?
  2. Does your IT department provide Performance Support?
  3. Performance Support might start in a niche area, but can it be easily spread to other areas?
  4. Are you re-using content and integrating your training and Performance Support materials?
  5. Are you embedding learning into Performance Support to make it your prime focus?

A maturity model for Performance Support

Nguyen also describes a maturity model for Performance Support based on the Capability Maturity Model (CMM).  His Performance Support Maturity (PSM) model has 4 levels of maturity.  

At Level 1, are organisations who’ve recently adopted Performance Support or have legacy systems.  

You move through the stages as you roll out Performance Support and reach full maturity only when it is deployed across the organisation and is fully integrated into the workflow.  

Or, to quote Nguyen, ‘Performance Support is so pervasive that customers ask for PS solutions in conjunction with or instead of training.’  

Performance Support effectively becomes the new training.

Where does that leave us?

Don’t be surprised if you find that areas in your organisation sit across more than one level.  And regardless of where you’re at, you may need some Performance Support yourself.  So, here are some tips:

Recognising your needs

Effective Performance Support needs context, target, and relevance.  Your organisation does things your way.  You have a mix of experienced staff and relative novices.  They’re going to have different support needs.  

So, take steps to make sure the information and support you provide are specific to your workers’ needs and outcomes.  The watchwords are ‘just enough’ and ‘just in time’.

Designing for Performance Support

Learning content needs to be created, chunked, and packaged for quick access and intelligent searching and retrieval, offering learning and support at the same time.  It also needs to be adaptive to meet changes in circumstance and usage.  

An employee looking for a piece of learning while on the job, has limited time and bandwidth.  A customer support agent is hardly going to put the customer on hold while they review an e-learning course.  A sales rep or maintenance engineer wants to have the information he or she needs on their phone or tablet at the client’s location, and not rush back to the office to take a refresher course.

Merging training with Performance Support

The biggest change you need to make is how you approach training and learning in your organisation.  At Learning Pool, we talk about Performance Support being the ‘new learning paradigm’.  

Training shouldn’t cease when you leave the classroom or exit the e-learning course and moving learning into the workflow can achieve enhance its effectiveness and improve productivity.  Giving training more focus and relevance while keeping people in work can lead to cost savings and enhanced performance.  

Learning on the job is better than learning before the job.

Keeping your support up to date

Update and refine your Performance Support based on experience and need.  Used well, it can unlock the knowledge trapped in the heads of experienced employees.  That knowledge can be shared to drive competence and rapidly upskill employees.  

Adding some intelligence to your systems

Your organisation may well already use technology to support your workers, but how can it be used to deliver better Performance Support? One way is to introduce AI.  

When you use Netflix or Amazon, they remember our previous choices and points us in the direction of future ones.  That’s AI, and you don’t need to be a corporate giant to use it.

Small AI-driven computer programs, called chatbots, can deliver that to your organisation.  

When you go into a high-street store, there’s an assistant to help you.  With chatbots there’s the potential to have that same experience when you shop online.  It asks what you’re looking for, you tell it and it makes recommendations.  The chatbot adds the personal (and personalised) touch.

And that doesn’t mean overhauling your systems.  Chatbots can ‘live’ inside other apps that your learners are used to. So, you don’t even need to create a new interface for users to learn.  

A smart approach

Chatbots are the new search engines, processing natural language requests to respond to real-world problems to recommend real-world solutions.  As user and chatbot interact the chatbot becomes smarter.

They’re learning while you are, so that the information they’re delivering can become targeted at the specific person in the specific moment. Analysing the usage stats from Performance Support tools can help perfect the design.

Enhancing Performance Support through technology

Advanced chatbots don’t just deliver information and learning to the learner, they deliver hard data to learning designers that can improve the support given.  

At the end you’ll have training directed at the workflow based on quantifiable data such as learner preference, task relevance and usage, and performance effectiveness.  

Chatbots can bring you closer to that ultimate goal of making Performance Support the new training.

People, get ready

The potential gains from new, enhanced Performance Support are huge.

“Placing learning directly in the workflow through technologically-assisted Performance Support can translate into increased productivity, efficiency and cost savings, and enhanced performance”.

Find out more

So, you’d better start getting ready.We’ll talk more about Performance Support at this year’s Learning Technologies event. If you’re coming along to this free exhibition drop by stand B4 to find out more about this transformative technology.


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