Formal trainings are often not enough to obtain the required gains in employee performance. This article outlines the difference between training and Performance Support Tools or PSTs and why you should use them. It also features 3 examples that show you how PSTs can impact employee performance.
In simple terms, Performance Support Tools or PSTs are job aids designed to provide learners with on-the-job support just when they need it.
Some of their typical characteristics are:
Performance Support is not a new concept. It started surfacing nearly three decades ago. As Gloria Gery, a key proponent of Performance Support, points out,
“Performance Support focuses on work itself while training focuses on the learning required to do the work. Integrating resources in the workplace is inevitable, and the need is urgent. Filtering resources so people get the tools and resources they need while actively working is the goal. Work process and roles are the primary filters. The mechanisms vary: Portals, performance-centered workflow interfaces, enterprise applications, integration projects, etc, but what’s important is that performer be able to name that tune in one note, to perform in exemplary fashion.“
While the concept is over thirty years old, it is finding its spot under the sun now. With increased focus on ROI by Learning and Development teams and businesses seeking clear and demonstrable gains, the usage of PSTs is finally gaining momentum.
PSTs complement formal training. While the knowledge gain to acquire this skill would happen through formal training, PSTs are provided to learners as just-in-time aids to facilitate application of the acquired skill. They are highly definitive in nature typically designed to address a specific challenge or problem.
Let me showcase how this would work practically:
The word you would associate with training is “instruct” whereas the word you would associate with Performance Support is “perform“. When it comes to training, it’s just learning that’s happening and work takes a break (or is postponed) whereas with Performance Support, it’s learn and work at the same time.
We can also look at how Performance Support Tools are different from training in the following ways:
As we have noted, PSTs are different from training. However, it is important to note that PSTs are not a replacement for formal training. They complement formal training and can be used to make formal trainings more interesting and meaningful by helping learners not just acquire knowledge but apply it on the job.
Speaking about knowledge acquisition and its application, it is a known fact that there is a significant gap between the two and business gains come about when there is a substantial impact created by the latter. It is here that PSTs serve as a boon for Learning and Development professionals in terms of helping learners apply the learning on the job and demonstrating a positive impact on the business.
For learners, especially of the current generation, learning and working simultaneously is a key aspect. In addition, they like learning and working informally.
PSTs are a great tool to boost employee performance as they:
As I had highlighted earlier, PSTs are easily available and usually embedded directly into the learners’ workflow helping organizations provide the required task support and step up the productivity quotient of their employees. They are typically designed to address a specific challenge.
On account of this, some of the gains that PSTs provide are:
All of these have a direct impact on your bottom-line.
PSTs can be used in various ways. Specifically:
Today, you are spoilt for choice in the range of formats that you can use to create PSTs. I am listing 10 PST options based on the microlearning technique and feature several high impact, rich media formats:
I have picked 3 examples from this listing:
Mandate: To reinforce the key aspects of Data Security (to drive the required behavior).
This solution is a short information nugget on Data Security, a crucial part of the Compliance mandate of various organizations.
This nugget is part of a larger suite of courses on Compliance that we have developed. The nugget is in a responsive web-based training format. It is best viewed in a desktop or laptop but can also be viewed on tablets and smartphones.
The information provided is a prequel to a comprehensive module on Data Security and provides preliminary information about the subject.
The learner needs to basically take a “scrolling” journey. A fictional character of “Data Dave” is introduced to the learner at the beginning who takes the learner through three offices with varying levels of data security and provides tips and best practices to protect data along the way. The engaging visuals and conversational language coupled with interactivities at various stages make the complete journey engaging.
Mandate: To reinforce time management essentials (to drive usage at work).
Mobile being a preferred medium of new-age learners in terms of hassle-free and quick learning, we developed this Android app on “Time Management”.
Designed for the typical swipe and tap navigation, the app eases the learners into the basics of time management with a few tips in short phrases. It then presents before the learners a gamified quiz to engage them and let them enjoy a “game-like” learning experience.
The element of obtaining a high score and completing the quiz/task within the prescribed time limit gets the learners to actively participate and give them a sense of achievement upon successfully completing the quiz, effectively serving the purpose of “sticky learning” and bringing about the required application of knowledge at work.
Mandate: Summarising the essence of our journey as a custom content development company as 6 takeaways.
This infographic captures the essence of our journey as a custom content development company in the form of 6 takeaways. The content for this was originally written in the form of an article when we completed development of 6000 hours of eLearning content development, providing in-depth insights on the key takeaways of our journey.
While people do enjoy reading articles, there are those who do not have enough time to go through the complete content. This infographic is ideal for such people and others who would want to get the gist of what they want to know in a jiffy. The crisp messaging and easy-on-the-eye design helps learners learn what they want to in a relatively shorter time. It’s not just “just-in-time” but “just what’s needed” as well.
I hope this article provides the required insights on how Performance Support is different from training and the role it plays in engaging employees. More specifically, the featured examples should help you identify how you can potentially use PSTs in your organization. If you have any queries on how to integrate PSTs in your training delivery, do contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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