What is Performance Support?

How learning at the moment of need can help drive performance in your organization.

Written by Mind Tools for Business
Published 21 August 2023
What is Performance Support?

Performance support has been front of mind for many people in L&D over the last couple of years, with mindsets shifting towards both working and learning in a more flexible way. Business attitudes are being forced to change, too, with greater focus on delivering outcome-driven learning for the benefit of the organization as well as the individual.  

Performance support can mean different things to different people. Here at Mind Tools, we feel it can best be described as a self-directed tool or job aid that provides specific task-related guidance precisely at the moment of need. 

Why performance support matters

Remote working environments have fast-tracked the demand for self-directed learning, as opposed to more traditional in-person learning activities.

This shift was very much in evidence in our 2022 Learner Intelligence Report. It showed that by 2021, employees were becoming more motivated to learn for their own personal development. Whereas in the past, learners were more likely to engage with learning because they felt they had to.

During a Mind Tools client webinar, Cat Greenwood of ActionAid UK pointed out that the charity has seen a move away from learners expecting the organization to deliver learning to them.
"Learning is happening all the time, and for me, it’s about people noticing that." - Cat Greenwood, ActionAid UK
Her organization now encourages a culture of ongoing reflection, with individuals encouraged to recognize their own development needs.

Many organizations now offer a hybrid approach to meet a range of needs. ActionAid, for example, might use more traditional classroom delivery sessions to signpost toolkit resources that learners can then access in the flow of work.

Creating a learning culture

For your learning culture to change, it’s essential to educate and engage stakeholders across your organization about the benefits of performance support. This might include lunch and learn sessions, webinars, managers’ one-on-ones, and promoting it as part of employee onboarding. Signposting where people can find the right resources is also key.

Another way to promote engagement is to help draw comparisons with other parts of learners’ lives. In our Mind Tools Performance Support webinar, Kerry Gabriel O’Sullivan of the RSPCA pointed out that, with devices in our pockets and search engines a mere click away, we expect immediate answers to questions. And to be able to watch or listen to anything we want at any time. Why should learning be any different? Performance support-style delivery simply makes sense as it’s served in the way people expect – whether they realize it or not! 

Performance support can help drive inclusion

Providing in-the-moment learning allows every learner access to the same information around a topic of interest. And without having to wait for dedicated time to study it in a classroom environment. Similarly, in organizations that have a widely dispersed workforce, Mind Tools’ “pull” rather than “push” approach to learning allows employees to access it in their own way.  

At ActionAid, with staff mostly office-based, inclusivity is focused on delivering specific tools for specific needs and ensuring that the breadth of content is suited to learners of all levels. By choosing performance support from Mind Tools, they have been able to offer a solution to learners who may be time-poor, feel less confident in the classroom environment, or learn better in a certain style.  

Amanda Walters, L&D Business Partner at housing association Home Group, also described how Mind Tools’ functionality can be used to increase awareness about inclusivity at work. For example, her team put together playlists on their toolkit around cultural events that reflect the diversity of their workforce. 

Cat Greenwood did something similar to support ActionAid’s feminist leadership approach: as well as curating playlists, she has created a calendar of internal learning events. This includes ActionAid’s own materials on their customized version of the toolkit to help it feel more familiar and provide a one-stop shop for learning. 

Proving impact is easier with Mind Tools 

When taking on performance support for an organization, L&D leaders want to know that it resonates with their people – and that it’s having an impact. After all, performance support is intended to be outcome-driven by meeting learners at exactly the moment they are motivated to learn.  

Since adopting Mind Tools, Home Group has seen a 50% increase in the number of colleagues accessing learning content, while 70% of employees have accessed Mind Tools at the RSPCA since it was adopted in 2020. 

The RSPCA has been focusing on developing managers at all levels. L&D Manager Kerry Gabriel O’Sullivan reported that within weeks of Mind Tools being introduced at the charity, it had led to positive change in terms of strategy, motivation, engagement, and trust. 

For Cat Greenwood at ActionAid, her future goal for proving impact is to see colleagues sharing and recommending the Mind Tools resources to each other without having to be prompted! 

A toolkit that slots right in 

Mind Tools can elevate the way in which organizations are able to provide performance support, while freeing up time for the L&D team to continue to review and improve their strategy. 

Talking about her experience of using Mind Tools, Kerry Gabriel O’Sullivan said, “Rather than having to curate resources at the RSPCA, we’re more responsive than we’ve ever been – we’ve got something that we can signpost people to straightaway when they’re looking for something specific. It feels great to be able to do that.”  

Mind Tools for Business provides accessible, on-demand tools and resources that help people to perform in today’s workplaces. Book a demo today to discover how performance support can drive meaningful learning outcomes in your organization. 

About the author

Mind Tools for Business

Mind Tools for Business

Mind Tools for Business brings accessible, on-demand performance tools and resources focused on leadership, management and personal effectiveness that empower colleagues to perform in today’s progressive workplaces. Helping them build happy and successful careers and to contribute positively to the success of organizations, the world over. At Mind Tools for Business, empowering people to thrive at work has been our passion for 25 years.

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