Performance Support Tools

Performance Support Tools – The Just-in-Time Learning Aid

Searching for the right information on the Internet is a time-consuming affair. The more time it takes for a person to get the results, the more annoying the whole experience becomes. Same goes for people who work at a customer-facing job. The sooner they give a solution to the customer’s problem, the happier the customer is. 

Here’s an example-

Kevin joined a bank two months ago. As part of his orientation program, Kevin learned about various banking processes and how to handle customer requests. He now works in a branch as a customer service executive.

Recently, a customer approached him with a request to activate his old account that was dormant for a few years. The customer also wanted to change the nominee for this account. Kevin struggled to handle this request because he was unable to recall the exact steps of the process and the list of required documents. He reached out to his manager for help. Unfortunately, the manager was busy in a meeting and was unable to help him.

The consequence – an unhappy customer because Kevin had to request the customer to revisit the branch the next day when he would be better prepared to handle the request.

What if Kevin had a tool that could help him recall the process steps and the required documents instantly? Would that equip him to handle the request more efficiently?

Employees know their job well, but at times, they can run into a problem and look for various sources for a solution – colleagues, superiors, documents, manuals, etc. What if they can find the right help with a few clicks on their smartphone or a computer? This kind of just-in-time learning aid, also known as Performance Support Tools, can provide the required performance support and thus increase their efficiency.

What are Performance Support Tools (PSTs)?

PSTs are tools that offer “just-in-time” and “whenever, wherever” learning. PSTs are ideal for today’s busy employees as these are concise and task-oriented, and can help them solve their job-related problems almost instantaneously. It means they can work and learn simultaneously.

PSTs can be used to teach new concepts, facilitate the application of those concepts, provide additional or in-depth information on a topic, and provide instant solutions for specific problems.

According to the popular 70:20:10 model for Learning and Development, we learn:

  • 70% from on-the-job experiences (experiential learning)
  • 20% from interactions with others (social learning)
  • 10% from formal (structured learning)

While the exact ratio of learning from different approaches may vary, it is clear that on-the-job learning plays a significant role in employees’ growth. Organizations can use PSTs effectively to support experiential learning.

Are PSTs and formal learning the same?

PSTs are different from formal learning and are used to refresh or support formal learning. In other words, PSTs can facilitate the application of knowledge gained through formal training.

Broad level differences between PSTs and formal training

Formal Training PSTs
Teaches a new concept or skill or provides more knowledge about it Help to apply that concept or skill and is an informal way of learning
Fills an identified gap in skills or knowledge and explains a concept in detail Is used as an on-the-job problem-solving tool
Requires a dedicated time slot Can be used whenever there is a requirement
Imparts knowledge and new skills to the learner Help learners to complete their tasks
Offers structured learning Offer incidental learning

What are the different formats of PSTs?

  • Mobile apps for just-in-time information: Useful for employees who do not have immediate access to a computer or a document; for example, people working on the field like pharma representatives and sales reps
  • How-to-videos and interactive videos for instant information: Useful for learning new software, efficient practices, operating a machine, or replacing a part during maintenance of a machine
  • Process maps: Provides a comprehensive view of the entire process and helps to check the importance of the current task in the process
  • Whiteboard animations: Useful for long-term retention of information
  • Kinetic text animations/typography: Useful for conveying difficult-to-visualize situations
  • Interactive PDFs: Makes complex and lengthy documents easy to navigate and use with the help of interactive features like clickable buttons, embedded videos and more
  • Quick reference guides: Useful for summing up key concepts, processes, and procedures used in formal training

These can be multi-device compatible and can be offered in mLearning or mobile learning formats so that learners can access them whenever, wherever.

What are the benefits of PSTs?

As mentioned earlier, PSTs are different from formal training and are not meant to replace but complement them. PSTs help the learners to apply the knowledge acquired in the formal training. It is a well-known fact that the application of knowledge plays a significant role in the performance of employees, and PSTs can effectively boost employee performance.

PSTs can help employees to improve their performance as they:

  • Are easily accessible
  • Offer quick resolution to their problems
  • Reduce dependency on senior employees/colleagues
  • Help in improving the competency of new employees quickly
  • Help in getting quick updates on new features or updates in workflow or process

 At the same time, PSTs can help organizations to:

  • Increase productivity
  • Improve quality
  • Reduce the number of errors
  • Improve turn-around time for a task
  • Provide better service to their customers
  • Provide continuous learning to their employees
  • Save time and money spent on frequent formal training sessions as PSTs are focused and shorter or smaller in size and therefore easy to update/replace

Who can use PSTs?

PSTs are quite useful in almost all industries, including:

  • Banking and Insurance – customer service, processing various banking or insurance related requests
  • Airline – customer service, marshalling, loading/unloading staff
  • Pharmaceutical – sales, production units – operating machines, replacing parts, repairing machines

How do you make PSTs available for your employees?

Although Performance Support tools are an established concept and are used by most organizations, they are not used in a structured manner and are not available for all the tasks. To use PSTs effectively, they must be convenient, user-friendly, and relevant.

A well-structured learning portal or a centralized repository accessible from mobile devices is a very convenient and user-friendly way of making PSTs available to employees. Regular updates and maintenance of the resources or tools are crucial and keep them relevant.

Do you think a short how-to-video, a step-by-step reference guide in the form of interactive process maps, or infographics will provide the required performance support to enable your employees to complete their tasks efficiently and on time? At Hurix, we can help you identify and develop PSTs to support your employees. 

Get in touch with us to get highly interactive performance support tools for your employees.

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