Why Utility Field Workers Should Be Using Performance Support Checklists


A typical day in the field for most utility workers is probably pretty routine, performing maintenance and inspections or responding to calls of outages. However, even the routine can require complex, technical knowledge. And what happens when a more serious event takes place?

Whether you work in gas, electricity or water, field workers have a lot they need to know just for everyday work. Add to that the projects that happen on a less-than-daily basis, and there are a lot of procedures to remember. More critical, yours is an industry that safety is of utmost importance, for both your team and the general public. Your team must be both competent and confident.

Training Isn't a One-Time Thing

Utility employees go through some kind of training when they first start working for you. There may be additional training as new technology or systems are adopted. But many organizations assume that basic initial training is sufficient. It’s expected that a worker will retain what was covered in training and be able to apply it in the field. In such a complex and technical field of work, not only is this an unrealistic expectation, but it can also bring about significant consequences.

And often, especially in the utility industry, there are procedures and processes that might be done only seldom--sometimes years in between. How are employees supposed to retain their skills?

Performance support tools are an extension of training that help ensure workers are able to acquire and apply knowledge not only through training, but through guided, in-field experience. The key word here, of course, is guided.

Benefits of Offering Performance Support to Field Workers

Adding performance support solutions to your field worker training program can have many positive implications for your team. Let’s explore a few.

Remember steps to processes performed less frequently. While a worker may think he remembers what he’s supposed to do, his confidence may fade once he’s actually in front of a piece of equipment. A checklist in hand will help jog his memory.

Remember the order in which steps are to be completed. Workers will never again have to wonder whether a button should be pushed before or after a setting is adjusted in Step 4.

Reduce errors and guesses. When workers know what steps need to be completed and in what order, trial-and-error is reduced, along with the costs involved in fixing mistakes.

Maintain reports of process completion. Completed checklists let you compile historical records of when certain processes or steps were last done, and by whom.

Support new hires as they transition into the field. New hires will enter the field feeling more confident knowing that they possess tools designed to make them successful from day one.

Empower employees to tackle unknown or complex tasks on their own. This brings us back to the two c-words mentioned earlier, competence and confidence. Lacking one can produce undesirable results, but performance support tools can keep both in check.

Safety. Not only can errors be costly to fix, they can also be dangerous. Performance support helps increase safety.

Make it Mobile for Even Greater Efficiency

Offering performance support materials like checklists and job aids is a good first step, but considering printing costs and general inefficiencies of paper shuffling, putting these materials on a mobile device like an iPad make them even more useful.

Imagine how sharp your team could be if they had a checklist on an iPad that collected data in real time and aggregated it into a supervisor’s summary? And if, within that checklist, there were links to how-to videos that offered more detail on how to complete a step?

If you're interested, check out ExpandShare's eLearning Services to see how your program can be an epic success.

Will Holland