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What is Performance Support?

June 9, 2009

Performance support (or performance support systems or electronic performance support systems) could be the answer that you’ve been looking for if you need your employees to improve their on-the-job performance.  Performance support is taking the learning to the learner or information/instruction to help employees on the job.  While they are at their desk, register, service counter, in the field, on a sales call, or wherever they work.   Some examples: job aids, quick reference cards, online help, wikis, wizards, decision-trees, FAQs, audio reminders, etc.

One of the struggles that many organizations have is getting their employees to a training course.  Maybe they shouldn’t bother creating a training course, but introduce performance support instead of training.  If the World Health Organization, the entire US military (Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines) and the airline industry use performance support regularly, there just might be something to it. 

Performance support is great for complex tasks, infrequent tasks, and tasks that constantly evolve.  It really helps with jobs where there is high employee turnover, situations where customer information/cases are shared and distributed workforces.  It can help a workplace learning professional, team or department spread themselves further.  For the learner, it emphasizes learning and behaviour change, not training. 

Allison Rossett – one of my favorite thinkers – offers an online assessment to determine if performance support is the way to go.  Check it out: http://www.colletandschafer.com/perfsupp/tool.html.  Other experts in the area of performance support: Gloria Gery introduced EPSS (marrying performance support with technology), Marc Rosenberg is an expert in big picture e-learning and performance support and while some of the information on this site is dated, there is good stuff to be found.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 10, 2009 12:38 am

    Holly,
    Excellent description and insightful examples. I am passionate about performance support and now work with a “sidekick” epss application company. I hesitated to comment, but I’m not selling anything here. It’s all free and no registration(ie, spam, etc.) There is an interesting example that is worthwhile to take a look at. There is a 1MB download for Player (think of it like a flash player)to play a very small script. To experience it, install the player, then click the link to launch the Calculator script http://www.transcensus.com/files/scripts/CalcAverage.sho This is a very real-world performance support example.
    Thanks,
    Dan

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