Using Performance Support Software During & After the Training Period

Time, Effort and Costs

When it comes to running an organization, whatever the size, training employees is one of the most time-consuming tasks. Regardless of whether you are training a new employee from the start, or need to retrain veteran employees to familirize themselves in operating a new software or updated features, it takes much time, effort and costs. Time, in the sense that training takes time away from actual daily taks (the reason you hired your employees in the first place), and furthermore, even after the training ends, employees still often find themselves repeating tasks due to mistakes, or time spent waiting for helpdesk assistance.  Effort, because of the manpower needed to transfer the information during training, to plan it beforehand and to closely monitor progress during and following its completion.  Finally, like everything else in business, there is a focus on how cost-effective it is.  Whether you’re talking about the costs of the space and manpower, of the electronic performance support systems or e-learning software, or the indirect costs of lost potential revenue due to learners not being able to perform their daily tasks, well, let’s just the employee training process isn’t free.

In fact, there are some companies that are hesitant about changing or upgrading their operating software or website due to the fact that the training, and re-training, process is so costly. However, their releiance on traditional classroom training methods, and their hesitance to accepting newer, and more cost-beneficial technological aids keeps them outdated and prevents them from moving forward as an organization because other companies have already adopted the newer technology. Plus, the transition will become even harder the longer a company waits to evolve. Small steps are always more manageable than giant leaps forward.

Immediate and Direct Support

Thankfully, there is a fast developing training strategy that helps decrease the amount of hours lost for training employees. It’s about utilizing electronic performance support systems and they give employees a way to learn new information while simultaneously applying it to pratical task-related situations. It’s a great way to train both newcomers and veterans, and the impact that it has on the learning process can be seen instantly.

While performance support is definately not something brand new, the learning and development industry has surely seen a gradual shift in recent years away from classroom training to a more long-term, continuous approach.  Call it blended learning if you choose, but I think that with most work being digital these days, and with complex software (and technology in general) constantly updating itself, there has been a need to find a way to keep employees up-to-date on how to operate it, but in the most cost-effective way possible.  So a continuous learning, performance support approach has seen increased adoption.  Add to that the global financial crisis, where managers face lower budgets allocated for employee learning.  So it’s more critical than ever before to be able to support employee learning and performance quickly and effectively.

How electronic performance support systems work is through learning by doing. Instead of extensive classroom sessions and long video tutorials, employees are placed on the front lines and work a typical day. They are then given tools that help them tackle practical taks and learn how to address them in real time, exactly in the moment of need. There are certain programs out there that are designed for this specific purpose, and can be paired with other training techniques to promote a faster learning phase.

Guidance Technology that Support Real-Time Performance

One great example of how performance support works is through WalkMe. WalkMe is a unique learning tool that can be overlayed onscreen of any website or software, and which serves as a virtual GPS, guiding employees through step-by-step through even the most complex action. Managers can empower employees to learn immediately, via a series of detailed instructions, showing users exactly what to click and why they are going through certain steps. There is no need to open up a new browser, not to watch any external how-to videos, but rather, the employee is shown how to complete the tasks successfully on the screen as he/she is working.

For example, sometimes companies go through an overhaul phase with their software (think of migrating to a different CRM system as an example). This is something that many employees dread because of the fact that they are so familiar with the current system. They may not realize the potential the new framework has on their work efficiency, but using electronic performance support not only lets them see the potential software has, but real-world implementation of that technology. This type of training effectively takes care of 2 different issues: the fear of learning something new and the negative attitude of having to change something that has been done the same way for years past.

Close up of vintage typewriter machineWalkMe can be tailored to meet the exact needs of the company, meaning that the guidance tools can be as broad or detailed as needed. Steps can cover basic protocol to serve as a refresher for anyone who seems to be confused, or they can cover the issues that don’t come up as often so that employees don’t have to stop what they are doing or put a customer on hold as they try to figure out what they are supposed to do for that specific situation. By using WalkMe, companies are able to put the customers first and ensure that they are happy and feel like they are given the best possible service.

It should be noted that electronic performance support systems will not be effective on their own. Trainers still need to take the time to teach employees the basic foundation so that they have something to build on. When used with proper training and guidelines, performance support becomes an indispensable tool that will help learning grow at an exponential rate. They can shorten the training period and even help overcome some hurdles that people typically face. Everyone learns in a different way, but using performance support software ensures that they are given the proper guidance to learn what they need in a quick and effective manner without costing the company any more money.

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Jason Silberman
Jason is the former Lead Author & Editor of TrainingStation Blog
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