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Your Finger’s in the Dike and the Dam’s About to Burst!

Written by Bob Mosher

Originally published on the Performance Support Community website on 14 January 2013

It’s January 2013 and the dam is about to burst.

For the past few years I think we’ve become a little complacent, plugging our finger in the dike and standing in ankle-deep water. But that’s about to change!  The economic downturn of 2009 is now fading into the past. Businesses are growing again, competition is heating up, and the outlook for the future is bright again.

The reservoir is filling up!

In 2013, an improved economy will unleash hiring, as well as IT budgets, filling the reservoir and creating stress through pent-up demand for training and performance support. As the reservoir fills, the water around your ankles will begin to rise as well because the leak—the pressure to improve performance—is going to get worse!

Let’s look at two contributing factors more closely. First, the National Association for Business Economics predicts the economy will add 173,000 jobs a month in 2013, up from 157,000 from last year. That’s potentially a 10% increase in additional employees, which doesn’t even take into account employee turnover!

The second factor is that new or updated enterprise systems and applications will challenge us even further as we get asked to help employees adapt to new processes and skills. Gartner, in their latest Quarterly IT Spending Forecast, says spending on enterprise software is expected to nearly double, from 3.3% in 2012 to 6.4% in 2013.

More employees + more new systems = more training!

Can you feel the pressure building?

As things begin to ramp up in 2013, we will undoubtedly create new courses and send more employees to formal training, be it in classrooms or online. But we face the typical quandary. We want our employees to have the skills they need to perform their jobs, but it’s a struggle to manage the amount of time that training takes employees away from their jobs. We also know that even with the limited time we do have to train, up to 90% of the information learned is forgotten in the first month or so after training.

This new era of growth is a perfect opportunity to introduce a new paradigm—one that actually supports performance! It is our opportunity, as learning professionals, to be seen in a very different way by the lines of business we support.

As Marc J. Rosenberg so eloquently states in his article, “The Fall and Rise Again of Performance Support,” “We know that not all performance improvement can be achieved through training. The problem is that training often loses its connection to performance. In fact, most performance gains are not training related. The workplace, not the classroom, is where most performance improvement, and most learning, takes place. This turns everything around–work is learning and learning is work!”

I can tell you that very few learning programs today successfully address the application of knowledge–the essence of performance support and what the learner and the enterprise truly care about. In fact, an informal survey of more than 1,000 of our webinar attendees showed that 82% incorporate performance support into their training efforts less than half the time.

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”— Dr Wayne Dyer

In 2013, your team and your organization have the chance to open the dam and let the water flow by incorporating performance support into your training program. Performance support will provide your employees with the help they need, when they need it—at their moment of need, helping your organization float to the top with a productive and efficient workforce. Join us in the coming months as we push the issue and finally make 2013, and beyond, the year(s) for Performance Support!

Written in Strategy Matters

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