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5 Performance Support Lessons From Consumer Technology Apps


Wed Jun 26 2024

5 Performance Support Lessons From Consumer Technology Apps

Talent professionals are rediscovering the potential of performance support tools to drive business outcomes. These tools range from sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled knowledge bases to just-in-time microlearning embedded in the workflow. But, a critical challenge is how to encourage employees to leverage the tools that are deployed.

Over the last decade, consumer technology companies have innovated how to influence behavior at scale. They have applied psychological insights to craft user experiences that encourage their desired behaviors. The same techniques that encourage checking your social media regularly or upping your daily step count can also be used to support performance in your organization.


By applying insights from consumer technology apps, we can encourage our workforces to execute the key actions that deliver higher performance. These five techniques are powerful levers to shape behavior that drives results:

1. Reinforce the habit

The science of behavior change shows that small changes can build, while large lifestyle overhauls tend to fizzle. Consequently, consumer apps reward consistent usage to create habits. For example, the Kindle app rewards users for reading each day, regardless of how many pages they complete.

How to implement: If you are not lucky enough to have a performance management system with a login streak or an IT team that can build a frequent user badge into your knowledge management system, you can build your own new user flow. You can use activity logs and workflow automation tools to recognize consistent usage by your employees. Some milestones to reinforce are first day of use, first time using a feature, using a feature for multiple consecutive days, and using the tool every day for a week.

2. Emphasize the positive

Positive reinforcement is far more effective than punishment, so consumer apps celebrate progress in a variety of ways. Habit trackers reward improved scores and perfect weeks, and they encourage stretching with messages like, “You’ve almost hit your daily goal!”

How to implement: Most organizational performance management calls out failures with exception reports. You can flip the script by identifying milestones to rewards (such as updating goal progress each week for a month) and using automated reporting to recognize those achievements. You can get more advanced by recognizing exceptional quality work (such as well written goal comments, possibly with the help of rubrics and AI models).


3. Enable user choice

Autonomy is one of the core drivers of engagement. Social media apps allow users to choose people and topics to follow, creating a personalized feed that highlights relevant content.

How to implement: You can use marketing campaign tools or audience targeting features to give employees the ability to customize their performance support recommendations. For instance, employees could select development goals and receive curated advice on their chosen interests, or they could indicate a preference for articles, videos, or podcasts and receive resources in their preferred formats.

4. Nudge daily activities

It is easy for important things to fall off the radar when we are swamped by the urgent. Apps use notifications to create urgency, which can be a powerful way to sustain lifestyle improvements. For instance, diet apps will ping users to plan their meals, log their macros, and weigh in; fitness trackers will remind users to stand and show progress rings for daily step goals.

How to implement: Workflow automation tools can be set up so employees can commit to activities and receive timely nudges to complete those tasks. For instance, leaders can commit to a cadence for one to one conversations, or frontline supervisors can set up a daily review of how well they solved problems rather than firefighting.

5. Provide contextual recommendations

“Next best action” recommendation systems are frequently used to deepen engagement. Financial planning apps will analyze the user’s spending habits and financial goals to recommend when the user should consider new investment strategies, and workout apps will adjust the next day’s programming based on progress over time.


How to implement: Use persona mapping to identify different types of employee situations and needs, then curate resources appropriate to those contexts. You can deploy those resources in a variety of ways, from self-service intranet pages to chatbots.

Over time, technology will make it easier to implement these techniques. However, you don’t have to rely on expensive technical resources to begin improving your performance support ecosystem. A simple combination of manual reporting, message templates, and mail merge can start your journey, and low-code workflow automation tools can quickly build your capacity to support this work.

The bottom line is that performance support tools can make a huge difference for organizational outcomes—if they are used consistently. Consumer technology companies have invested millions of dollars to identify techniques that reliably drive behavior at scale. We can harness their insights to improve performance in our businesses by simply observing common patterns and learning from their designs.

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