We’ve all pretty much figured out that learning doesn’t happen exclusively in the classroom or during an eLearning event: it’s continuous, and needs to be available “just-in-time” for application on the job.
Driven by the need for Training to contribute strategic value, many organizations are creating a continuous learning environment to effect real and lasting improvements on job performance. But training – even continuous – may not be enough to assist the employee when it’s time to apply the knowledge or skill to the job. We all forget information or confuse details; particularly in today’s volatile, distracted work environment.
Advancements in technology are enabling workers to receive knowledge and support in the context of their work; which is opening the door for electronic performance support systems (EPSS).
There are many definitions of performance support, from thought leaders such as Gloria Gery in the early 1990’s to current proponents including Marc Rosenberg, Allison Rosset, Conrad Gottfredson and Bob Mosher. They all agree on one thing: performance support provides information, guidance, advice, assistance, training and tools at the point of need – on the job.
But with the ubiquity of learning and support technologies in today’s business workflow, performance support becomes much more integrated with – and difficult to distinguish from – continuous learning. Bottom line: as long as the employee has the knowledge and skill to perform the job effectively; who, what, where, when and how knowledge is delivered is becoming extremely flexible and variable.
Open the Door
While EPSS may be a somewhat new business concept, all T&D professionals should at least know what’s behind the door: what it is, how it’s developing, and how it can contribute strategic value to the organization.
Knowledge at the time of need
A key purpose of performance support is serving up knowledge just in time to do the job. But it can be so much more than that: with the personalization capabilities of today’s eLearning systems, knowledge can be pushed out to employees based on their environment, their role, and their current level of knowledge, giving them what they need, when they need it.
Employees can also search for specific knowledge at the point of need. An intelligent performance support system will then add context-specific recommendations based on past searches and current learning plans. For instance, if a warehouse worker has searched for information on fork lift operation, the EPSS could suggest he might also be interested in information on loading large shipping containers, or how to work with vertical storage systems. And if he just completed a learning module on handling dangerous chemicals, the system may also suggest modules on what to do in case of chemical spills in the warehouse.
Let Performance Support In
Performance Support, when done properly, can have a dramatic impact on workplace effectiveness. Over and above effective learning practices, it provides your employees with support at the point of need, giving them the ability to do their job more successfully, and drive a positive impact on business performance.
As performance support becomes integrated with continuous learning, you create a collaborative environment where employees are retaining knowledge, finding additional information at the point of need, and even contributing expertise, for the benefit of fellow employees and the organization alike.
Written by Laura Martin