Performance Support: What It Is and Why Its Matters

Performance Support
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    No matter how effective a training course might be, nobody leaves an expert. Research shows that after one day, employees forget more than 70 percent of what was taught in training.

    Luckily, an effective performance support system can improve memory retention and help difficult concepts stick even after formal training takes place. But what exactly is performance support and why does it matter to content developers and organizations?

    This post will help you understand the meaning of performance support, its relationship to training, and when learners need it most. 

    What Does Performance Support Mean? 

    What Is Performance Support?:  Performance support is a service that helps learners refine their skills and apply their new knowledge as they are working. By offering on-the-job assistance, performance support makes it easier for learners to: 

    • Retain or refresh the information they learned during training 
    • Gain access to additional information necessary for completing a task or job
    • Improve their troubleshooting skills  

    Difference Between Training and Performance Support: A content developer often creates a training course to provide planned out instruction, often with specific objectives, activities, and group work. Training usually helps learners master a specific skill and can take place in person or online. 

    Performance support, on the other hand, is there to help learners once the training is over. It helps learners get work done and accomplish tasks on time: 

    • In performance support, there are no learning objectives. Rather, there are performance goals. 

    In 2013, The eLearning Guild published a useful article “At the Moment of Need: The Case for Performance Support”, which outlines five key moments when learners need performance support most, including: 

    1. When learning about a topic for the first time
    2. When seeking new knowledge
    3. When trying to remember instructions or adapt their current instructional strategy to a new situation. 
    4. When attempting to problem solve 
    5. When their work or organization has changed its internal structure

    Performance Support In Our Daily Lives

    Everyday Examples of Performance Support: A successful performance support strategy draws inspiration from the learning services we use every day. For example, think about the moments in our everyday lives when we need to learn something quickly and efficiently. 

    You might need to find out how to dice a pineapple or fix a key on your laptop. To find these answers, you’ll most likely consult the internet using a mobile phone or another electronic device. 

    To make learning more accessible, information is usually presented to learners in a small bit of text or video, for example: 

    • Step-By-Step Tutorials: Websites like Wikihow provide short, concise, Step-By-Step instructional guides complete with relevant visuals. 
    • Instructional Videos: How-To videos on Youtube or other platforms are usually a simple and straightforward demonstration of how to do a task or project, and are often less than five minutes. 

    Performance Support and Workflow: Performance support is crucial for any business looking to maintain a steady workflow for their employees. Think about how annoying it is when you need to interrupt a project to ask for help or go online and find an effective instructional strategy:

    This means that employees and learners are spending precious time seeking out support, and perhaps even more time regaining focus and getting back to the task at hand. Jonathan Spira writes in his book Overload! How Too Much Information Is Hazardous to Your Organization that:

    This statistic highlights that learners aren’t receiving the performance support they need, as as a result, organizations are suffering. With performance support, these issues can be resolved. 

    Why Performance Support Is Important

    Importance of Performance Support: Oftentimes performance support is informal and allows the learner to learn and work simultaneously. Some of its important benefits include: 

    • Helping learners perform tasks without having to seek outside help
    • Helping new employees complete their tasks quickly when formal training may not be available
    • Providing a great way for learners to explore and understand new system updates and work processes

    Performance Support Tools (PSTs) ultimately create a safer and more efficient workplace. It prevents safety hazards that result from inadequate training, improves employee motivation, and allows learners to seek instruction at their own pace. 

    Great Content Developers Care About Performance Support

    Performance support isn’t just about receiving on-the-job assistance; it is about helping employees and learners produce their best work and feel confident in their abilities. Here at WeLearn, we understand the importance of performance support and incorporate it into our instructional strategies. 

    Have you ever saved time by receiving great performance support? If so, what methods and mediums were used? Share your experience with us at WeLearn, because together we learn.

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