Are you supporting performance?

All organisations are measured by their performance.  Measures of success vary, but all successfully performing organisations have business strategies in place that allow them to survive and sometimes even grow during tough economic conditions.  As employees and businesses begin to leave the comfort of “things known” and venture or are forced out into the untrodden lands of uncertainty and unfamiliarity, their need for support increases and  our ability to deliver appropriate support is increasingly challenged.

In our now constantly and ever more rapidly changing world, the recognition that learning is ubiquitous is now widely accepted, as is the recognition that it cannot be managed. So what is the place of a learning expert or a learning function in this new world? What does support mean and how can it be provided?

Learning requires to be inextricably embedded in the work stream. At its simplest people need to have the support tools or “sidekicks” as they are described by Allison Rossett  and Bob Mosher to help them perform tasks. Such tools need to be incredibly practical and accessible. It is often forgotten that learners are in complex situations back on the job and regardless of the quality of the training, application is always more difficult when in the work stream and away from the protected environment of the learning intervention.

Supporting peoples performance in the workplace can and should happen using the whole span of technology and learning theory that is now so easily available to us.  Whether it is a simple checklist of codes at the self-checkout in a fruit and veg shop or a pilot’s complex pre-flight procedure, or maybe a simulation for a surgeon to practice a rarely used operation before treating a patient, the tool needs to be directly applicable and be focused on successful performance of the task and the achievement of desired results. Access to a co-worker skilled and experienced in the task or to an expert coach is another form of performance support.

At an organisation level, recognition of the predominance of informal and social learning needs to be given prominence and supported accordingly. All of us who work in learning need to concentrate fully on understanding the business sufficiently so that we can apply our knowledge to performance and improvement of results, whether at an individual, team or organisation level.

It goes without saying that human capital is an organisation’s greatest and most fundamental resource, therefore for an organisation to perform at its best, its members of staff need to be performing to the best of their ability.

The more we can support people out of an understanding of their own and their organisation’s needs, the more likely it is that a beginner will become an expert, a follower will become a leader, and stagnation will transform to innovation.

So how well are we doing? In 2010 Capita asked senior business leaders in the UKs largest firms how learning and development was contributing to the organisations ability to perform.   The outcome of the research is worrying with only 18% of leaders saying that L & D strategy aligns to the overall business strategy.  There may be many reasons for this, but we have to address them. A recent unpublished American survey revealed the horrifying statistic that only 15% of executives would recommend L&D to their colleagues as a resource in improving business performance. We are a very long way from delivering the added value to the people and organisations who employ us, both in their perception and in our aspiration. If we fail, we will become isolated and increasingly irrelevant overheads that organisations will no longer afford.  Succeed, and we become central to the future.

#chat2lrn on Thursday 16 February will seek to explore what performance support means in practice, and how as learning professionals we can position and skill ourselves to provide that support…..hope you can join the conversation!

To help you get ready for our next exciting session, have a look at the following posts………….

http://www.learningsolutionsmag.com/articles/668/the-other-side-of-learning-performance-is-everything

http://www.trainingindustry.com/blog/blog-entries/where-does-learning-end-and-performance-support-begin.aspx

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