What do Weddings Have to do With Performance Support?
It’s that time of the year when thousands of love-struck couples tie the knot.
Wedding guests typically gush over the beautiful bride, stunning décor and fellow friends and family members, who are all present to share in the happy day.
But, at a recent wedding I attended, I must admit, I felt the biggest surge of excitement for something most people probably would have ignored. Performance support was happening right before my eyes and, well, I marveled at the sight. (Yes, I know this is weird. Don’t tell the bride). Here’s how I justify my enthusiasm… I had just spoken with performance support expert, Marc Rosenberg, and was pumped up that, from his teaching, I was able to spot a real life example in action at this event.
I’d like to share it with you too!
Take a look at the place cards (below). Do you notice anything?
Look closely and you’ll see that the first one displays a solid black line; the second one displays a solid grey line; and the last one displays two parallel black lines.
If you only looked at the first two place cards, you might think that the printer was running out of ink—that the solid grey line on the second card should be black. But, upon closer examination, it was clear this was no mistake. Each line was deliberate and represented something specific.
For this particular wedding, guests were asked in advance to preselect their main course. The solid black line indicated to servers that the guest had ordered beef. The solid grey line indicated the guest had selected chicken. And the two black parallel lines indicated the guest had requested the vegetarian option.
A simple tactic, but super smart. It helped the servers perform their jobs flawlessly. Every guest was guaranteed to receive the correct meal, as long as the servers remembered what each line meant.
As Marc Rosenberg pointed out to me, Starbucks does something similar. Baristas check boxes on the back of the cup to ensure they get the order right every time.
This is what performance support is all about—providing employees with the information they need, when they need it, so they can be successful on the job. It can be as simple as these examples, or more in-depth, depending on the needs of the employee and the specific task at hand.
The goal of performance support is to augment training, empowering employees to perform daily job functions more efficiently and effectively. There’s a balance between the information they need in their heads versus the information they simply need at their fingertips.
In this example, it would not make sense for servers to sit through a training session that ran through the selections of each guest and required servers to memorize each guest’s selection. That would be a poor use of time. Instead, servers only needed to be trained on the meaning behind the three different lines—significantly boosting learning efficiency. The end result was that the marked place cards enabled servers to perform their tasks much more accurately, reducing the risk of error substantially and increasing the likelihood of keeping guests content.
Now, think about your own organization. Are there tools or information you can provide employees after a training event that can help them apply that training on the job? Are there ways you cut training time by implementing performance support tools to build employee knowledge and empower employees to carry out certain tasks? Maybe you don’t even need any training at all. Perhaps implementing performance support tools is the best way to enable your team in the first place.
We’d love to hear how you’re implementing performance support in your own organization, so don’t hesitate to submit your stories in the comments below.
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Written by Richele Black