I was on a flight recently and I was sitting close enough to the front that I could see the flight attendant looking at her phone. Watching her reading and swiping, at first I thought she was checking her email. But then she took a little too long and she started looking a little too frantic.
I’m sure no one else noticed, but I said to myself, “She can’t find her performance support.” I realized she was looking for her safety briefing script. What I couldn’t figure out as I watched her was why she seemed so concerned. She had been chatting with passengers as they boarded, and it was clear she was a very experienced flight attendant.
I’m sure it felt like forever to her, but after a few minutes she put her phone aside, and called up to the cabin as they prepared for her to start the safety briefing. She started telling the safety instructions, reciting it mostly from memory, as I expected her to do. She even added a few fun comments along the way, as experienced flight attendants do.
And then she said something that made everything make sense…. She joked about how she was feeling a little rattled with this safety briefing because this flight was departing from Ottawa, and since we were in Canada, a few things in the safety briefing were different from the script in the USA. She went on to say that she had highlighted those parts for her flights to Canadian cities, but her app had updated the previous evening and erased her highlights. She turned it into a funny joke, but I saw it as an incredible lesson about the value of performance support.
We often think that performance support is for people who are new at their job, who we’re helping to get “up to speed” – and that expert performers will ignore those tools even if we provide them. But let’s not forget all those expert performers who find themselves in unique or unusual situations. Performance support is an excellent way to help those people perform confidently and expertly in any situation they find themselves. The next time you’re designing a piece of training, even if it’s for an experienced group of learners, ask yourself if performance support should be a part of your solution.