How to Use Learning as a Performance Support Tool?

Corporate learning today should pay much more attention to how it enables performance. While there’s a time and place for long-form learning activities, often we’re better off just learning by doing. Adults learn through experiences in contextual environments. Thus it seems that nothing beats learning experienced on one’s own job – or workflow learning. Meanwhile, formal experiences like classroom training and eLearning courses are giving way to more nimble approaches to delivering content. This is partially driven by learners who don’t see the value in sitting through hours of training just to forget things soon after. So, let’s take a look at performance support and how we can use it to learn on-the-go and help people perform better.

The shift from learning beforehand to learning on-demand

Many organisations tend to approach training the same way as schools and universities do, by trying to prepare the employees for everything. Unfortunately, the laws of retention and the forgetting curve are not on their side. The learning offering ends up being a lot of “just-in-case” rather than things employees really need and can apply immediately. In the end, the organisations waste a lot of time, money and resources to deliver learning that doesn’t translate into actions or gets forgotten soon after the fact. Wouldn’t it make sense to focus on what matters – performance – and gear learning towards that?

How to design performance support learning?

To understand how to design learning for performance support, let’s look first at how it differs from traditional learning. First, employees engage with performance support while working and don’t want to interrupt their flow. Secondly, the circumstances are less about learning new, but more about finding ways to apply the already known. Furthermore, whereas the goals of corporate learning may sometimes be bit ambiguous, the goal for performance support is clear: help to finish the task at hand.

Keeping that in mind, here’s a quick checklist on key characteristics of good performance support resources.

  • User-friendly – no one wants to spend effort in navigating complex systems when they need the information quickly.
  • Accessibility – employees must have access to the resources anytime, anywhere, regardless of the devices they have on them.
  • Short-form content – performance support resources should be quick to consume and concise (microlearning, anyone?).
  • Searchability – all content should be tagged, indexed and easily searchable, enabling the employees to get to it quickly.
  • Relevance – all content must be up-to-date, and relevant to the employees and their roles and functions. Don’t deploy “off-the-shelf” resources, but give solutions to problems specific to your business.

The bottom line

By giving your employees access to these kinds of tools, you’re assisting them in the most problematic part of learning – putting new skills into practice. Employees will surely value that, as you’re helping them to do their jobs better. Also, you’ll likely save up time on non-productive formal learning and keep the people at their jobs. That should have a direct bottom line impact.

Overall, a performance support approach to some learning activities helps to support the changes in the workplace. As skills, businesses and the environment change rapidly and constantly, it’s important for the corporates and employees alike to learn on-the-go. While this is not meant to replace all of traditional learning activities, it does provide a much better alternative for some of it.

Would you like to explore modern and more meaningful ways of workplace learning? We’re happy to share some ideas and hear about your challenges. Just contact us.

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