Training And Performance Support Solutions: What They Are And When To Use Each

Training And Performance Support Solutions: What They Are And When To Use Each
Summary: While training and performance support are terms often used interchangeably, they are two discrete solutions. Striking the right balance between the two ensures that your employees are trained, compliant, educated, and actively developing their careers. But how do we know when to use each?

Training And Performance Support Tools: What They Are - And Aren’t

Often, organizations assume that if an employee is making mistakes or doesn’t understand something, training is the answer. And this assumption, while sometimes accurate, can give a false sense of security to a struggling employee and a sense of accomplishment to upper management.

Problem Solved.

Or is it?

Viewing training as an educational panacea is a slippery slope – the assumption being that training is the silver-bullet solution that can solve any and all organizational problems – and can lead to organizational failure.

But why?

Because training models solve for only one basic problem: a lack of knowledge or skills. So in cases where those are the deficiencies, training is the right choice.

But once knowledge and skills are successfully gained through training, Performance Support Tools provide learners moment-of-need aids to facilitate the application of the acquired skill.

Learn, apply and repeat as necessary.

Training And Performance Support Tools: When To Use Each

The easiest way to understand when to provide training or Performance Support Tools is to ask yourself: ‘Is this topic complex or critical enough to postpone work or can employees instead reference this topic on the job?’

Because training alone is not enough to perform a job well. And performance support isn’t enough to ensure that employees are skilled or knowledgeable enough to do the job to which they’ve been tasked.

So while being trained is mission-critical, it isn’t necessarily sustainable for long-term performance as skills, technologies, positions, and even organizational needs evolve over time, often rendering certain skills obsolete. In order to supplement and complement training, performance support provides an ongoing focus on the application of such skills or knowledge, in real time, at exact points of need, to empower employees to improve their skill efficiency at their pace and on their time.

To better illustrate this, here is what training and performance support provide, and what they don’t.

Training: ‘Is This Topic Critical Enough To Postpone Work?’

Training provides knowledge and training for specific skills, such as a leadership training or meeting certain compliance standards, often imperative to performing a job without future references necessary. Think of training as the first step to equipping your employees with the necessary skills and knowledge they need to perform the functions of their job. As such, training is a relatively simple, straightforward solution.

With training, organizations can make great educational strides but in order to reap operational benefits, there needs to be a focus on knowledge application.


Known as the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve, the ‘science of forgetting’ suggests that within one hour, people forget an average of 50% of the information presented, 70% within 24 hours, and 90% within a week.

So what can be done to reinforce the brain science of retention?

Performance Support Tools: ‘Can Employees Reference This Topic On The Job?’

Performance Support Tools, on the other hand, serve to alleviate any friction or frustration that an employee may feel when trying to tackle an unfamiliar task once skills and knowledge are acquired. Googling the answer, flipping through training manuals, or asking for help are instead replaced by running through a checklist or pulling out their phone for real-time support.

So if training provides the foundation for Learning and Development, performance support and retention approaches are the brick-and-mortar built upon that foundation.

Here are 3 of the most powerful delivery methods.

1. Predictive Learning

Predictive learning collects and analyzes third-party data based on the learning needs of the user in real time in their moment of need in order to suggest training opportunities appropriately.

2. Microlearning Apps

Microlearning delivers quick-hit course material for easy consumption and better retention, allowing the learner to process each section to increase retention through repetition and application.

3. Nudge Software

Nudge software delivers information and questions in the weeks or months following a course to test retention, uncovering opportunities to continue educating by sending a reinforcing microlearning course.

As organizations seek to educate and develop their workforces, both training and performance support provide critical, complementary support, giving employees the actionable, applicable knowledge and skills they need to grow themselves and the business.