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Change, Employee Performance, and Blended Performance Solutions

by Terence R. Traut

Companies are changing at Internet speed.  Businesses need faster and more efficient ways to meet customer requirements.  As business requirements change, so do the needs of employees.  Change is necessary, but change impacts employee performance — and competition requires that your employees be at peak performance.

Change comes in many forms: Reorganization, corporate mergers, new technologies, new processes, new tools, new management techniques, exponential growth, new employees, new products, and new competition.  Each change requires new skills and knowledge.  Yet employees may not have time to attend a training class whenever there’s a change.  What do you do?

Blended Performance Solution

Blended performance solutions combine strategic performance support, information access, communication, and training to achieve the most effective performance gains in the most efficient manner.

Blended solution components may include any or all of the following:

·         Web-based Training (WBT)

·         Multimedia-based Training (MBT)

·         Online help

·         Distance learning

·         Reference documentation

·         Instructor-led classroom-based training

A properly designed blended performance solution can:

·         Provide the skills, knowledge, and support when and where they’re needed.

·         Take advantage of many learning methods.

·         Reinforce knowledge and sustain performance over a longer period of time than traditional training solutions.

More Efficient AND More Effective

Studies have shown that classroom training may result in performance increases IF supported by supervisors and managers on the job.  Good classroom training, therefore, builds management reinforcement training into its design.

Blended performance solutions take another step back and consider not only the importance of management reinforcement, they also consider the job and the information required to get the job done.

Sometimes, the simplest solution — an embedded job aid — is more than sufficient to achieve the desired performance.  Sometimes simply formatting required information so employees can access what they need quickly is the best solution.

Let’s look at individual elements that may comprise a blended performance solution.

Possible Elements of a Blended Performance Solution






Web-based Training (WBT)

Self-paced, interactive training available on the Internet.  Examples include software application training or   content-based training (e.g., sexual harassment).

· Employees need to access “just in time and just enough” training at the time of the need.

· Content may change frequently.

· Allows easy access anytime and virtually anywhere.

· Allows simple update to content.

· May use a variety of multimedia effects to draw the user in.

· May be linked to resources outside of the course.

· Hardware independent.

· Requires computer and Internet access.

· Requires motivation or incentive to complete the training.

· Bandwidth may limit video and audio.

Multimedia-based Training (MBT)

Self-paced interactive training presented on a CD-ROM using a variety of multimedia (e.g., audio and video).

· Employees are geographically dispersed or otherwise unable to attend scheduled training.

· Employees may be unable to access the Internet.

· Allows easy access to training on a desktop or laptop.

· Does not need access to the Internet.

· Allows for full video and audio.

· Is not able to take advantage of the power of the Internet.

Online Help

Quick and immediate access to information about a specific task delivered to a user at the user’s request.

· Users need quick access to information or a quick refresher to get the job done.

· Users need a quick cue, tip, or prompt when they roll the mouse over a screen area.

· Users need an online tutorial that can be attached to the application.

· Allows user to get help and keep working.

· Focused.

· Little or no long-term learning takes place.

Distance Learning

An instructor-led approach where the instructor and participant are separated by distance and/or time. 


· An instructor posts lessons and exercises, and participants work independently yet may have regular online chats with the instructor.

· Employees are scattered geographically.

· Schedules prevent employees from attending face-to-face training.

· Avoids costly travel for geographically scattered employees.

· Avoids the need to be physically in a classroom.

· Provides some interaction among the instructor and participants.

· Allows limited interaction with other participants and the instructor.

Reference Documentation

Factual or procedural information that supports a person doing a particular job after initial learning has occurred.

· Information includes job aids, charts, posters, user manuals, and reference guides.


· Helps sustain learning.

· Serves as ongoing reference.

· Allows users easy access to structured information.

· No interaction.

Face-to-Face Training

An interactive, instructor-led approach where the instructor and employee meet in a classroom for a specific duration of time in a common location.

· Subject matter requires a classroom or laboratory situation.

· Best examples include significant interaction,  practice, and feedback.

· Well suited for skills training.

· Allows participant and instructor to carry on detailed conversations about unclear points.

· Can be motivational.

· Synergy among participants is a significant — albeit unpredictable — benefit.

· Requires participants to travel to a certain location during a particular time period.

· Can be painful and costly in terms of time away from job and travel.

Ideal Solutions and Best Solutions

Sometimes the ideal solutions aren’t the best solutions because of mitigating work environment challenges.  For example, it may be impossible to schedule a class due to hiring timeframes or work schedules.  In that case, WBT, MBT, or other self-paced instruction becomes your best choice.  Sometimes, economics helps determine the best solution.  For example, introducing a new product to a nationwide audience in a span of three days simply is not feasible via traditional methods; in this case, distance learning technologies (including WBT) that allow independent access accompanied by a job aid is the best solution.

Blended solutions address the performance required by a person as well as the challenges imposed by the work environment.  Take a customer service representative (rep), for example.  The rep needs to have the skills necessary to deal with a variety of customers in a wide variety of situations; classroom training with practice and feedback is an ideal way to hone these skills.  The rep also needs access to a variety of product and service information; information written to be easily and quickly accessed addresses this need.  The rep also needs to use a variety of applications to retrieve and record customer information.  WBT and online help can provide the learning and support needed with minimal time away from the desk.

Full Speed Ahead

As your company speeds into the 21st century, use blended performance solutions to help increase employee performance in the most effective and efficient manner possible.


Terence R. Traut is the president of Entelechy, Inc., a company that helps organizations unlock the potential of their people through customized training programs in the areas of sales, management, customer service, and training.  Terence can be reached at 603-424-1237 or