One of the biggest challenges that learning professionals face is overcoming the reality that people forget much of what they learn from a training class very quickly after it is over. This is horrifying considering we spend so much effort creating quality training programs. The good news is that this "forgetting" can be overcome if we implement evidence-based interventions, and performance support is an effective intervention that can help people remember what they learned, when they need it, in order to perform.
In our book, Mitchell Levy and I dedicate an entire section to performance support because it extends formal, event-based learning interventions into the job itself and is a method for bringing learning to the work, where it is most needed. Conrad Gottfredson and Bob Mosher call this the moment of need. In their book, Innovative Performance Support, they describe five moments of learning needs when performance support can be used to not only help people remember what they learned, but also speed up the time to competency, which is time is takes someone to get up to speed on their job.
Performance support is about helping people solve the problem, "What do I need to know now to perform this task?" Since people cannot remember everything they learn in a training class, performance support is a way of bridging the gap between learning and performance so that learning can be transfered to the job and performance sustained. If you do not know where to start, here are a few practical ways to get started in performance support.
How to Implement Performance Support
Read these two books: You should definitely read Innovative Performance Support by Conrad Gottfredson and Bob Mosher and Job Aids and Performance Support by Allison Rossett and Lisa Schafer. Each provides excellent and extensive tools and process for implementing effective performance support.
Provide resources: Be obsessed with job aids. Create as many as you can for everything that will help people perform tasks that are complex and infrequently performed. Another way to provide resources is to create short, tutorial type videos. An example would be a video screen capture about how to update a screen on an customer account in your customer relationship management (CRM) system. A tool like Jing is a perfect tool to create these.
Have learners create their own resources: It used to be that organizations would create an internal knowledge base and have a centralized team write the content and post to an internal web site. This was a great idea and it worked because the content was searchable and fairly easy to use. A problem occurred when we realized we could not keep up with the changes to the content. It became outdated and people stopped using it. With wiki technology, you can open up the authoring of these resources and allow the people who actually do the job, keep the content updated.
Provide ability for people to commune around the resources: With enterprise 2.0 social networking technology, you can empower people to have online discussions and these discussions themselves can become resources. If people can have conversations about their work and share stories with each other about how they get their work done, other people can search these conversations when they need help.
Not To Replace Training, But...
By no means is performance support a replacement for training. Effective training is an important part of learning and performance. However, since performance support can be designed to help people perform tasks when they need to, there may be instances when you could provide a resource for people, instead of training. At the very least, during your analysis of a new program, you can ask, "Is training really needed here? What if we just created some job aids and put them in a place that is easily accessible? Would that do it?"
Why not experiment with that approach on one of your next projects and record what happens? Who knows if it will work unless you try it. If you have created job aids or some other form of performance support in replacement of training, please share below in the comments. You colleagues would love to learn what you did and how you did it.
This is the fifth in a series of posts on the skills learning pros need to know now. If you missed any others, you can check out Part I (Five Must-Have Skills for Learning Pros: An Update), Part II (Required Learning for Training Managers: Business 101), Part III (Three Ways to Speed Up Instructional Design), and Part IV (Three Simple Ways to Get Started with Social Learning), Part V (Want People to Learn? Get Them to Collaborate) here.