Performance Support – Do You Support Your Performers? – Part 1

Ever wondered ‘How can we improve our performance’, ‘I wish we could boast best practice’ or ‘How can we scale up our operations with quality’? Of course you have, and chances are; this article can help you…..

Whether for yourself, your new employee or a virtual assistant, performance support tools must not be neglected.

Performance support (PS), when done correctly, enables effective performance in the workplace. In other words, do what the organisation needs you all to do (independently and together) to continuously accomplish its strategic objectives.

We help small to large businesses everyday and I can assure you that ignoring PS puts everything else we do at risk, whilst embracing PS rescues it all!


 Figure 1: The performance support spectrum depicts the range of solutions in order of increasing benefits.

Many businesses operate within Phase 1!

Where are you in the spectrum?

Use this everyday example to help figure out where you are and where along the spectrum you need to go.

Your favorite new TV series starts tonight at 8:30pm. Damn, every week on this day (and only this day) is your date night WHICH CANNOT BE MOVED. You can use your video recorder to capture it but just can’t remember how to record the entire season. At this moment of need, the ways for getting the help you need to successfully complete this task span the performance-support spectrum.

Your first option is to take a ‘scattered information’ approach. This requires you to go searching for the right manual. You would need to leave the TV and go rummage around in a manuals drawer, trying to locate the correct booklet.

This scavenger-hunt approach violates the first fundamental principle of performance support: embedded. A PS solution is embedded to the degree it minimises leaving the performance environment to get the help you need.


Once you find the right manual and turn to the table of contents, you meet the second fundamental principle of performance support: Context. The manual is arranged in a way that does not reflect your specific need. It is organized alphabetically according to each feature.  That’s not what you want! You are forced to waste even more time and effort searching for the steps you need.

In the business world, a PS solution must accommodate intuitive access according to the specific roles and varying access (contextual) needs that a performer might have.


Once you find what appears to be the correct section, the third fundamental principle comes into play: Just Enough.

In a ‘scattered information’ approach, the information isn’t immediately actionable. It might have everything you ever need to know about recording, but it forces you to boil it all down into actionable steps.

As you read through all of the recording information, you grab a marker to highlight the information that relates to your specific need. You extract the five steps you need to follow and write them down on a scrap of paper. You then return to your TV with your home-made job aid and the highlighted manual (just in case.) You then attempt to follow the steps, which don’t give you enough information to succeed.

After rereading through the more detailed information you’ve highlighted in the manual you finally successfully program your video recorder.

When information is in the form you need to rapidly translate it to actual performance, you have “just enough.” Dive deeper if needed via cascading levels of information.


There must be a better way!

In the next article I’ll introduce you to ways to move up the performance Support Spectrum that are easier than you think and with content that you already likely have.

In the meantime, start thinking about ways that you can include performance support utilising the sentence that we built earlier. I need performance support:

‘in the workflow and readily available at the moment of apply, according to specific roles and varying access needs in the form needed to affectively perform inside the business process’.

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