How My Husband Taught Me Performance Support vs Training: What I Learned 4/9/2012

Hi everyone! Ok, before I go any further, I’ll admit it. I haven’t been blogging every day. But still, I’ve done better than any time in the past year, so that has to count for something, right? And oh yeah, remember this is my first and only draft. I’ve published without even previewing…what you’re reading here is exactly how it came out of my head!

Now on to the good stuff.

#Lrncht: When is Training NOT the answer?

In #lrncht (a weekly twitter chat every Thursday) we were discussing performance support vs formal training. Click here if you want to read the transcript of the chat.

While driving around Central Illinois over the weekend, I got into a discussion about this topic with my husband who is definitely not in learning and development, at least not officially. He’s a banker by day, and a photographer by night. And when in his photography hat, he is very focused on developing beginning photographers. But I digress…

Pic Jimmy took during our conversation called "Round Barn and Horses, Urbana IL".

As I was saying, Jimmy and I were driving through the cornfields of Central Illinois and I was trying to explain to him the difference between performance support materials and a formal class. And that’s when he had an epiphany.

He said:

You mean like in our software system at the bank where there is this one field where we have to select an option from a pull-down menu. The only problem is that the pull-down menu is populated with about 10 different acronyms and no explanation or description for any of them! I don’t need a course, and I don’t want to click out of the system. Why can’t you guys just put a little question mark next to the box that opens up with a list of the acronyms and what they stand for? I even searched through for the training materials, but that was the only field that wasn’t described. For that matter, how can there be a required field and no one knows how to populate it?”

Yes, he described it perfectly. That is performance support. Training materials on hand in the moment of need to support his performance. So why doesn’t it exist?

Our Excuses

I immediately went into a litany of excuses. You know what they are, I can guarantee you’ve said at least one of these at some point in your career: The programmers/techie people hadn’t provided that information to the training team. No one had documented at any point, so the trainers couldn’t. The job aid does exist, just probably on an intranet, or in an LMS, or on a shared drive somewhere. The people who knew what the acronyms mean are no longer with the company. The IT department won’t let any documents be linked to the system (too expensive, too complicated, security issues, etc.). The training department wants to keep all the training materials in one location so as to not have multiple versions to update. Well, who would own any updates to the document – training, IT, vendor, etc.?

You know how it goes, but the end result is that these are just excuses.

Fight for the Learner

So with my litany of excuses for his bank’s training department flowing out of my mouth, Jimmy just looked at me. I know that look. And here is what he said:

How is any of that my problem? I just want to fill in the form. Why can’t anyone help me?

So I ask you the same question: Why don’t you fight the fights to help your learners? Why don’t you help them?

About Tricia Ransom

Patricia Ransom: wife, daughter, friend. Learning, laughing, living. Chicago, Illinois, downstate. Townie, urbanite, traveller. Note: The opinions expressed on this blog belong solely to me and should not be assumed to reflect the opinions of any of my employers past, current, or future.
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