PS - I Love You

July 07, 2014Justin Wedell

Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately, depending upon your taste in movies), this post is not a reflection on the questionable film of the same title. No, this post is all about Performance Support (PS) - a learning model that some have heard of, few have engaged, and many puzzle to understand. I personally find this state of affairs to be quite disheartening, considering how easy and essential PS can be. In this post, I’ll give you the performance support you need to take the next step toward using it for your own organization and - if we’re lucky - getting closer to the day when you will also finally feel compelled to confess, “PS I love you.”

What is PS?

As defined by Gloria Gery, Performance Support is

“an orchestrated set of services that provide on-demand access to integrated information, guidance, advice, assistance, training, and tools to enable high-level job performance with a minimum of support from other people.”

What does that mean?

Essentially, Performance Support is any learning tool that you make available to your employees or volunteers at the moment they need it most. The idea is that even with the best training you could possibly imagine, there is still a gap between what someone might learn in a session and when they’ll apply it in the real world (aka “the moment of apply”). If you want an employee to be able to truly take learning from the classroom into the workplace, you must make resources available that can help them to recall these lessons when the moment of apply finally arrives. These resources should be thus embedded in their natural workflow, so when they have a question, they can easily find the answer in 2-3 clicks.

2-3 clicks?

Yes - clicks of a mouse. Most organizations (and soon to be yours) store their PS materials in share drives or communal folders online (these are just two of many options). Employees should be able to access the resources they need in no more than 2-3 clicks. Typically, the starting point will be a general document related to an employee’s role that contains hyperlinks to these resources. An example is pictured below.

This already sounds too complex... documents and hyperlinks?

Fear not, this sounds scarier than it actually is. Let’s use the example of a Volunteer Manager. In this example, your organization has a great training for Volunteer Managers, after which employees who take it are supposed to be better equipped to do their job. To help reinforce this training, you’ve used Microsoft Word to make a list of all the key points from the training and each key point is hyperlinked to more specific information that you have stored in your shared drive. This way, when your employee needs to quickly revisit how to handle a particular situation, they can look in their Volunteer Management Word Document, click the relevant key point, and find a solution. This is PS!

I get it now, but won’t this take forever to build?

Not at all. Most of your PS materials can be made in tandem (or even before) your creation of any training. Think of each element within a PS resource as a key learning objective from the longer, instructor-led lesson you offer to your employees; it’s essentially an outline of the lesson plan. As long as you know your training’s key take-aways, you’ll be in prime position to set these up in the PS framework. And if you don’t know what these are, then we have other things to talk about.

That’s it?

That’s it.... more or less. You’ll definitely want to be extremely intentional in how you build out your PS process as not all roles or functions will require such resources. For those that do however, this can be a huge difference maker and it won’t be long before you hear those five little words: PS I love you.

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Was this post helpful? Do you want to learn more?

Check out our recent webinar on how to get started in your Performance Support journey for a deeper look at what makes this method tick. If you’re already ready to go, but would love some additional guidance, our HR Pro Bono Corps of no-cost HR consultants stand ready to help

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Image courtesy of jesadaphorn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

About Justin Wedell

As Manager of the Nonprofit Empowerment Program, Justin Wedell is responsible for maintaining and supporting the Foundation's global portfolio of capacity building services, including the HR Pro Bono Corps and Gift of Learning.

Previously, Justin was a... more

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