website search and social links


Logo and home button

What are performance supports and why are they important

There is a significant difference between delivering accredited training and providing training services in an organisational context.

Accredited training focuses on preparing an individual to work in a broad range of contexts within a given qualification and level, so there is a high level of  ‘just-in-case’ content to prepare learners for a range of potential situations and applications of knowledge.

Organisational training is focused on solving a specific business or performance issue, so the training provided is more ‘just-in-time’. For example, I need to know this to do my job… now.

In this post, I’ll look at ways to support individuals at the point of their learning need, considering BOTH accredited and workplace training contexts.

Development of competence

Critical to an organisational context – and often overlooked in accredited training – are performance supports. Performance supports provide training support at the point an individual needs it – usually the point of work.

As a training professional, I’ve heard managers say that after formal training and before an individual applies their learning, there is a significant drop in knowledge that gets more significant with the passage of time.

As learning professionals, our challenge is to look at ways to close the transfer gap to allow learners to have opportunities during and immediately after training so they can get the practice they need to progress from merely demonstrating competence to a level of confident mastery.

Five points of learning need

To effectively support learning, consider when individuals require support – their moments of learning need.

Dr. Conrad Gottfredson and Bob Mosher identify five points of learning need as:

  • New: learning how to do something for the first time
  • More: expanding the breadth and depth of what has been learnt
  • Apply: acting on what has been learned (planning, remembering or adapting performance)
  • Solve: dealing when problems arise, or when things break or don’t work the way they were intended
  • Change: learning a new way of doing something, which might require a change in skills.

The way we support this is dependent on our context. Working in an organisational context means you are often working within an area to provide performance supports. Regardless, there are still lessons for accredited training delivery. Significantly, practitioners can reflect on how we provide supports that can be applied in a formal learning environment as well as an on-job context.

Examples of performance supports

Performance supports are documents, processes, references, steps and resources that support an individual at the point of learning need.

The diagram above shows a hierarchy of supports.


As an organisational learning support, our challenge is to supplement our formal training interventions with supports for employees to access at their point of learning need.

For accredited training, our challenge is to provide flexible learning materials and resources that individuals can take away and access at their point of learning need.

Here are some examples of performance supports:

  • Process: benchmarks, job guides, process documentation
  • Steps: how to guides, step by step documents
  • Reference resources: Documents, policies, job aids
  • Learning objects: simulations, online content
  • People resources: social networking, mentoring programs

Social networking to support just-in-time learning

Yammer ( is a great social networking tool for the capturing and sharing of knowledge.

On first sight, Yammer is a lot like a Twitter. It’s a microblogging site, which allows for the sharing of short bursts of information (what are your working on?). However, whereas Twitter is public, to log into for Yammer you (generally) need to have an organisational email address. This means the information is private and shareable across organisations only.

There are other tools that Yammer provides including:

  • groups
  • file uploads
  • collaboration of documents
  • leader board
  • polls
  • org charts
  • announcements.

Yammer also offers a lot more than just microblogging. It allows for the capture of information knowledge. This is a critical workforce development strategy.

Yammer have lot of benefits for organizations:

  • capture tacit (informal) knowledge
  • facilitate cross department collaboration
  • drive team collaboration
  • increase employee engagement
  • increase business agility
  • provide a social intranet.

Yammer have a range of case studies to demonstrate how it can be used – visit

Just-in-time, just-in-place learning supports

Augmented reality is a way to provide just-in-time, just-in-place learning supports… but this blog post is long enough already!! In May we will focus on Augmented Reality for learning and development.

If you’d like support to consider how you can use performance supports, get in touch with us at



Reader Interactions


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Klevar eBook download

Deliver innovative digital learning projects using an evidence based approach. Download our eBook to show you how.