Training Needs Analysis

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Tonight I reflect on my current approach to conducting a training needs analysis within my organisation. The process I have used such as surveys, one on one interviews, and course evaluations have been extremely helpful to identify where training is effective and where training can be invested to give the greatest return. It is this process that has always given me visibility of training across all the departments.

What I believe to be an area that I can improve is the creation of a standardised departmental training needs questionnaire. As mentioned above this is conducted through many different streams including surveys, and one on one interviews. However, standardising some of the questions to use could assist in a speedier and accurate training needs analysis.

When there is a need for a training needs analysis to be conducted, whether identified through a manager or employee, this questionnaire should be used to collect relevant information.

Training Needs Analysis Questionnaire:

The learning and development team is currently reviewing all training events to ensure they are meeting the objectives of the individual, department and the organisation. Your input will not only be of considerable assistance in collecting this information, but it will also assist in identifying additional training requirements. Please answer the following questions and return to the Learning & Development Manager.

1. List below the courses that are currently being conducted for you and/or your department, then indicate how satisfied you are with the results of each course. (1 = Not Satisfied, 2= Satisfied, 3 = Very Satisfied).
Training Course: Satisfaction:
…Induction…. 2
…Negotiation Skills… 1

2. List below any of your departments and/or specific training needs to improve current job performance.

3. List below any additional training that you or your employees require. Please rank in order of need.

4. List below any training requirements you believe will develop within the next year.

5. List below any other areas in which you believe training can be of assistance to you and your department/employees.

The five questions are likely to generate allot of interest and can be used to assist in one on one interviews. It is intended for managers within departments, however can be used for anyone within a small team. After all, it is the students that determine the need for training.

If the questionnaire is used effectively it will generate information on:
– How well the current training courses are meeting the business requirements
– How employees feel about the training and their own individual training needs
– Identification of additional training required
– Training requirements that maybe required in the future
– and, other areas where training can build competence.

Happy training,
Luke

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6 thoughts on “Training Needs Analysis

  1. Thanks for this Luke,
    I think the above is a great way to build relationships and understanding with your stakeholders both individually and collectively. I think it also sets you up to understand and deliver upon their specific needs and expectations.

    TNA has only one outcome – training, so If we adopt a performance analysis and consulting approach, we have an opportunity to get to the root cause of the majority of performance problems (especially those that won’t be solved through training).

    The resultant performance solutions will capture the balance of Knowledge, Skills, Motivation (i.e. accountability, expectations, incentives, pressures) and Environment (i.e. Systems, Tools, Processes, Leadership, Culture, Support) required by people to perform and improve. Some practitioners suggest up to 80% of performance problems come from the Motivation and Environment areas, rather than Knowledge and Skill, which are the traditional realms of formal development (training) solutions. Although solutions may be outside of the scope of L&D, it does put us in a position to be the business partner or solutions ‘broker’, engaging with the relevant parties who can create/support the holistic solution.

    There may be some options to adapt your template/consulting approach to focus on performance, rather than training. Additional/alternative questions might prompt people to describe where are they now and where do they need to be, and to quantify the gap between current and future (desired) performance. Once a performance gap is established you can ask them to identify the reasons for the gap (i.e. Lack of Knowledge, Skills, Motivation, and/or Environment). This then lends itself to creating sustainable and holistic solutions.

    Given that most of how people learn happens on the job, the above model helps employees to adopt a deeper understanding of employee development and performance, so they don’t always fall back on training as the only solution to workplace performance problems!

    • Thank you Andrew,

      I completely agree with your point – a training needs analysis should form part of a wider analysis. Too often the learning and development function is viewed as a reactive and response support group. This approach towards a consultative performance analysis can assist with understanding the actual problems and can better measure success of a learning and development initiative while assisting the learning function to become a business partner, rather than just a training department. I have never used a ‘framework’, such as knowledge, skills, motivation and environment to collect evidence for a performance analysis before and I can see great value in using this approach in focus groups / governance boards.

      What questions have you used in the past for Knowledge, Skills, Motivation and Environment to collect quantitive results by way to a questionnaire to the wider business? In the past I have used a questionnaire to determine what training is currently taking place and how it is aligned with the business, business unit and the individual such as above. Then I would take a qualitative approach with focus groups, and one-to-one interviews determine a holistic approach.

      Overall your comments have spurred me onto re-brand the ‘training needs analysis’ to a ‘performance needs analysis’.

      Thank you for your comments!

      Luke

      • Hi Luke,

        Regardless of the scenario (i.e. performance problem, a request for training, or we are scoping new solutions), our consulting approach is the same.

        1. What is the current situation (level of performance, challenge or problem)?
        2. Where do people need to be (future state, what does success look like)?

        This allows us to define the performance gap and quantify it (how important is it to take action). It also helps us to identify success measures/impact/outcomes up front (something L&D often struggles with).

        From there we can use a root cause analysis approach to identify the reasons for the gap. Open questions to understand what is happening or not happening and comparing that to what could/should be happening. Asking the stakeholder to explain what success looks like or to outline the behaviours of a good performer can help.

        You might also use things like the ‘5 Whys’ to get to the heart of the problem.

        There are a number of references that explore performance analysis/consulting approaches and provide a range of questions/techniques. I’d recommend:

        M.L. Broad, ‘Beyond Transfer of Training’
        A. Rossett, ‘First Things Fast’

        Both these books explore the consulting process and provide practical approaches and techniques.

  2. Raymond

    All training should result in change for the good of the organisation, be it perfornance, culture od motivation levels. Conducting a TNA is a good diagnostic method to determine the focus area for training.

    Andrew & Luke provide good methods of conducting TNA.

    • Hi Raymond,

      Thank you for your comments. An organisation and the learning function should have direct alignment. Without this it’s ‘training for training sake’. What is the point of a training needs analysis, or a performance needs analysis, if not to create an impact and refocus for the business.

      Thank you,

      Luke

  3. Halima.

    Hi Luke,
    Thanks for this, it is a very informative read. And I agree completely with the above comments. I believe as training needs analaysis unfolds, we should be looking at all other elements that provide useful information that can make training more relevant to the business. One approach that we have used is that of drawing training needs from skills audits. In this instance one looks at business processes and thier skills requirements, then compares these with the skills of the employees required to operationalise these processes. Gaps identified can then be classified, addresed and/or investigated further.

    When it comes to finding training needs related to behavioral competencies the use of structured/scientific assessments to find out gaps employees may have on these seems to be the most reliable. But one worry is, what can one do to find these gaps if they do not have the budget/capability to run scientific assessments? Noting that the use of the questionnaire will limit us to the perceptions of the person answering the questions.

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