Performance Support Issue
Den Bosch (NL), January 2013 - When everything is changing faster and faster, we need to learn faster and faster, right? In a recent interview, this question was posed to two prominent advocates of performance support: Ontuitive’s Conrad Gottfredson and Bob Mosher, pioneers of working and learning simultaneously.
"In a world where drastic technological changes constantly challenge the workforce, market, and society, both employers and employees have to acknowledge that permanent learning is crucial. But there's a sense of frustration among both. Even when the content is a hit, employees hardly ever remember anything they have learned when they need to apply it," says Bob Mosher, Microsoft’s former training director and now the chief learning and strategy evangelist at Ontuitive.
"The big problem with training in a business context is not that there isn't enough training - there's often too much of it - but that people don't get the best out of it."
What is performance support?
Performance support offers the correct information to employees exactly when they need it: during work. It can be compared to a brief instruction that an employee reads - learning something new or refreshing memory - immediately applying the instruction.
The problem with training is that it often loses its connection with performance: As soon as we abandon the perspective of application, our view of training changes. Performance support organises training differently, shifting the focus from 'learning to use', to the 'application of what’s learned'.
Should the trainers ensure that learning is applied?
Of course. Trainers have put too much emphasis on learning: They have spent far too much time on learning to memorise skills and too little on the learning needed to apply them. With performance support, trainers stick to the fundamental skills needed for people to be able to get started, and their emphasis shifts to problem-based learning. The trainers are no longer just teachers; they’re also guides who build bridges between the course and the workplace.
Think of the increasingly shorter shelf life of certain products. Some course material is outdated the moment the course starts. To survive, organisations have to be able to learn at the same speed at which changes take place - constantly learning and applying new skills.
Does this mean the end of standard training, the general packages?
: No, absolutely not. But we have to make the most of it in the time we're being allocated.
The trainer has a very important role: as a teacher of the essentials and as the person who learns to use the support instruments and references. The trainer is not one to answer questions, but rather a catalyst to increase the employees' level of self-sufficiency.