Performance Support Tools: Information You Need, When You Need It
People forget 80% of what they’ve learned within 30 days. In fact, according to Herman Ebbinghaus’ Forgetting Curve, people forget over half of that information in under an hour. With that steep decline in recollection, how can we help our learners retain and apply training content? One solution is providing employees with Performance Support Tools (PSTs).
What is a Performance Support Tool?
Performance Support Tools are a part of your everyday life. Think about the last thing you wanted to do but weren’t exactly sure how to, like cooking perfect rice or updating your wifi settings. You probably used a performance support tool, like Google, to help you accomplish your task. However, while Google provides people with access to a lot of information, when it comes to work it may not all be the right information.
A good Performance Support Tool gives employees the right information when and where they need it. These tools offer targeted information that helps learners solidify their skills. PSTs encompass a variety of learning aids that provide employees with on-the-job support.
What are the Right Tools?
Ideally, each Performance Support Tool is an accessible technology platform that ensures all stakeholders have the right information when and where they need it.
As part of his hypothesis, Ebbinghaus also identified factors that affect the Forgetting Curve: meaningfulness of the information, presentation of information, and physiological factors (stress, sleep, etc.). Physiological factors aside, good PSTs provide meaningful information by giving learners access to pertinent information immediately. These tools also present content in an easily digestible way.
Here are some of the different Performance Support Tools that can be drawn upon to help learners.
- ELearning can provide new training and be used to reinforce training. Great eLearnings are concise, provide essential information, and easily navigable; their self-directed format allows employees to take learning at their own pace and revisit training as often as necessary. For example, employees at a pizza chain access eLearnings to learn how to make each menu item. Games within the course can be visited at any time to play again—either as a refresher or to try to improve recall.
- Quick Reference Guides (QRG) provide a quick look at the information the learner needs to keep working in the moment. For example, at a supermarket, there are codes for each item of produce a clerk could ring up. A QRG that lists each code allows the employee to quickly find and charge the items, even as they work.
- FAQs provide answers to common concerns that learners may have. These are similar to QRGs but they utilize and question/answer format.
- Infographics allow the learner to quickly process important information by providing a visual representation. Infographics can include visual step-by-step instructions, diagrams, charts, graphs, and any pertinent imagery. A simple example you often encounter is step-by-step handwashing visuals in restaurant restrooms.
- Process Maps show learners how a task fits into the context of a whole procedure. This birds’-eye view can help teams collaborate by allowing employees to understand what’s happening both upstream and downstream.
- How-To-Videos can show learners how to accomplish a task in a quick, easy to understand way. For example, an employee wanting to create a separate title page using the company’s brand guidelines could follow a short how-to-video as they simultaneously try to carry out the change in Word.
- Checklists can be useful for things that learners must do in a specific order or certain way. These lists can help learners confirm that they have completed each step in a process and addressed all key points.
How Can Learners Access these Tools?
Mobile applications, learning portals, and interactive documents (i.e., PDFs) are some platforms that allow learners to readily connect to the information they need.
- Mobile applications provide immediate content access for learners—regardless of their location. For example, a service technician may need to find information while onsite. A mobile app provides that technician with the ability to quickly find targeted information necessary to complete the job.
- Learning portals, or learning management systems, are centralized repositories for all training and on-the-job content relevant to a learner. Portals can contain eLearnings, how-to-videos, job aids, quick reference guides, FAQs, and more. When kept up-to-date, these storehouses of knowledge are a reliable and consistent source of information for every learner.
- Interactive documents, such as PDFs or eBooks, can also be used to compile information into a guide that learners can navigate themselves using a table of contents or the search feature. Current technology allows us to create documents that include links, videos, and attached files—documents don’t need to be static. However, these are a great option for learners that may want to print information.
Help Learners Help Themselves
With the world at their fingertips, learners expect convenient, quick, and pertinent answers to their workplace questions. PSTs are a necessary part of their knowledge and skill enhancement. They help employees make the most of their formal training by reinforcing learning and extending that learning through on-the-job experiences.
With the right Performance Support Tools in place, your employees won’t ever need to ask themselves, “now what do I do?” Reach out to us to discuss which Performance Support Tools are right for your learners.