Matchstick Inc.
eLearning, Instructional Design and Learning Technology Consulting


Matchstick Inc's - Training Consultants Blog

Take your Team from Training to Performance Support

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Increasingly Learning and Development teams are being asked to engage with operations leads and IT teams to deploy performance support materials and tools.  This is a departure from traditional L&D activities where a customer need to address a learning gap is expressed in the creation of a course or curriculum requiring the learner to step away from their work. Rather, performance support learning must occur in conjunction with the workflows of learners as they perform their tasks. 

 New tools, ideas and job titles often mark the shift in training paradigm.  However  the drive to implement a performance support  organization must go beyond simply implementing artifacts of performance support (PS) and instead deliver real change through a deep and meaningful paradigm shift.  Learning and Development teams wishing to implement performance support change will require investment and new focus on specific performance support activities. 

Just so we are on the same page.  Lets define what we mean by Performance Support:

Performance Support (PS) is any learning modality, resource or asset that is accessible and applicable at the moment of need.

From the Masie Center -

This methodology is not a new type of training but rather a shift which requires learning to be embedded in the operation or system through the use of paper based job-aid’s, decision support software integrated with systems or other workflows which bring decision support to the task in question..AT THE MOMENT OF NEED!  It is not a specific modality of training but rather a focus on introducing training when the learner needs it.  Done correctly it helps employees perform their tasks AND teach and drive retention of the learning for better future performance.  The old paradigm is not dead, not in the least as employees still must be exposed to foundational training with traditional methods.

Learning and Development is most effective when working in both paradigms.    We will assume your L&D team has a capability in training.  Do they have the same capability in to deliver results in a PS paradigm?  Lets look at what is needed:

L&D teams can differentiate between Peformance Support and Training

A foundational skill for L&D teams is knowing the difference between  training and what is PS.  You would not ask a call center agent to put down the phone mid-shift to take a training.  Likewise training should not be a series of discrete instructions or help items and should expose learners to broader concepts and foundational understanding not typically part of PS. Solidify this understanding with your team.

Build Partnerships with Business Leaders

Implementing a PS infrastructure requires close coordination between the L&D  team and business operations leaders from the functions that will be supported with performance support.  Instructional designers and training consultants will need to be embedded in the design and development of processes and systems in order to work alongside process owners and systems experts to design appropriate PS tools in these workflows

Process, product and systems knowledge

Instructional Designers will need to work with the tools and systems from the business and understand how they are used and when intervention is required to deliver a corrective action or learning point.  Process expertise is essential as only through a deep understanding of how the process should function and where learners might need support will a shift to PS be possible.


Measurement and Analytics

Closing the loop on the performance intervention to identify if there are lasting impacts or continued performance and task completion issues are critical.  Designers can leverage traditional methods such as surveys and knowledge checking, particularly when using performance interventions in manual processes.  Designers can also implement data collection from systems either through standard reporting OR the use of integrations such as xAPI to retrieve end user responses and interactions that users have with systems and report on the efficacy of the performance intervention on specific actions and over a length of time. 

The value in analyzing the data that systems and processes generate is that it permits an analysis of the PS that is deployed.  The data will show very clearly if the intervention is effective or otherwise.  The team skills required to do this will be biased towards analytical and data science.  Ability to review data sets across multiple dimensions and attributes is key.

Budgeting and Planning

Deploying resources for PS projects differs considerably from typical design, develop, deploy efforts.  Workloads, project tasks and post implementation are not managed solely by L&D.  Designers and developers will be engaged in work streams that are more closely managed by the IT or operations counterpart.  It is essential that strong partnerships are created between L&D and the groups they support.   Seek an understanding and commitment of time and effort required of your staff on their projects.  Measuring efforts and outputs also changes in the new learning paradigm.   Work products are less discrete and become embedded in the process and systems that your team supports.  Recognize this when scheduling and planning the work.

 With an eye on the future and a keen understanding of where your L&D team might be headed its essential to know these key differences between traditional learning and performance support.  Don’t assume that traditional training will go away but its always a good idea to keep an eye on the future and a step ahead of the change.  Dont forget to start off right...corporate training consultants like Matchstick Inc can help you outline a strategy and approach to get you started with a performance support infrastructure