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Which Would You Prefer: Noise Pollution or Performance Support?

As I was waiting for my luggage to appear at the baggage claim in Delhi last week, a colleague pointed this sign out to me:

performance support at an airport

In a place where honking drivers navigate their way through the crowded streets seemingly by echolocation and sensory overload insights, sounds, tastes, and smells are everywhere, the airport did indeed seem oddly quiet.

If you can’t make out the fine print at the bottom of the screen, it says: “To know the status of your flight, please check the flight information display at various locations.”

It was brilliant. Someone at the airport must have decided that the “training” they were offering – a constant stream of announcements over the PA system – was ineffective. They also must have determined that passengers were probably smart enough that, if pointed in the right direction with good signage, they’d be able to find what they needed.

It just seemed like a fantastic example of performance support in real-life.

Performace Support Defined

In an article entitled Performance Support: Three Tips for Getting Started, the eLearning Guild’s David Kelly defines performance support as “providing workers with the support needed to complete a task as it is being completed, in the context of work.”

Sometimes removing people from their jobs to attend a training session or having them log on to an eLearning course is essential. Sometimes.

Examples of Performance Support

More often, people just need something in the moment. The following are all examples of performance support:

A Quick Instructional Video

The production quality does not need to be high, you just need to make the point and give potential learners what they need. Here’s a quick example of an instructional video I continue to use when I want to upload an eLearning module to Google Drive for people to review:

Performance Support through a Picture

performance support through a pictureThis is an image I recently found on the projector in our office conference room. Apparently, our office manager grew tired of being paged and asked to set up the projector, and she came up with this simple solution:

A Job Aid

02042013 - Lesson PlanI work with busy subject matter experts all the time. In lieu of pulling them away from their duties in order for me to train them on the finer points of instructional design and adult learning, I offer them a simple lesson plan format in a Word document.

Clippy – Performance Support ahead of Its Time?

Clippy, the now-retired little paper clip animation that would magically appear in older versions of Word when it thought you were trying to create a resume or perhaps you were trying to develop some sort of form. While Clippy is indeed an example of performance support, there’s a reason he was retired. He was a little too aggressive in his desClippy - performance support?ire to help out. In many instances, it felt like Clippy was trying to push performance support on you. Performance support is most effective when users know where to find it, and choose when to access it.

The next time you’re asked to help with a performance issue, ask yourself if you need to pollute the air with needless noise (like a training program), or if people would be better served simply with a little performance support.

What kinds of examples of performance support are you using or have you seen in use? Let’s hear about it in the comments section!


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