In many ways, Training Needs Assessments are the backbone of an organization’s development and transformational efforts. It may surprise you to learn that less than 50% of small to medium-sized organizations actually conduct official, robust Training Needs Analyses to gain insight into training requirements, and even fewer actually use the acquired data in any meaningful way.
Training isn’t about people sitting in a classroom; it’s about how effective those people can be once they are released into their respective roles. Training builds contributors; focused training builds focused contributors, and focused contributors provide an increased benefit to any organization.
Training Needs Assessments begin with understanding your current state, and being able to identify the various requirements of your desired future state. The future state is highly dependent on a clearly defined set of corporate goals that serve to inform all supporting activities, such as training.
At Intelex, we are fortunate to have a clear set of goals that are defined on an annual basis, and help us to move the organization forward. These goals serve as a target for our Future State. One great thing about our Corporate Goals is that we arrive at them together, by pooling our resources and ideas, and deciding on the best course of action for our company. Other companies can benefit from this highly effective model.
Pick Your Analysis Tools
Once defined, a gap analysis can be performed using any number of tools available to the organization. Interestingly, tools used vary widely from industry to industry, and in fact from company to company in many instances as well.
Whenever considering the tools available for your use, always remember that you are attempting to ensure that a) the tool measures what it’s supposed to measure, and b) the tool produces consistent results when used, so that we can trust our findings and make informed business decisions.
Examples of Tools that can be used by your Organization:
- Employee Satisfaction Surveys (what do your employees wish they had?)
- Employee Reviews (what are the challenges facing your employees?)
- Analyzing KPIs and Balanced Scorecards (what do the metrics tell you about current quality and productivity?)
- Observations (what do you actually see occurring day-to-day?)
- Informal communication (what do you hear around the water cooler?)
- Analyzing the allocation of Educational Allowances (in what areas do employees ask to focus this benefit?)
Use Your Data
With your analysis in hand, training requirements can easily be described, along with required budgets and related ROI. The most important thing for an Organization to keep in mind is that Training, when properly vectored using a Training Needs Analysis, helps reduce costs by eliminating costly mistakes and inefficiencies. Effort expended through training is not wasted; it is leveraged exactly where it is needed every time.
Make It Stick!
Monitoring is a necessity if you’re trying to validate your ROI. Check your Key Performance Indicators and listen to what they tell you:
- Has production increased or decreased?
- Is production or process quality higher or lower?
- Are employees more or less satisfied?
- What does your turnover rate look like?
If you find that required positive metrics are still stalled or in decline, do something about it by adjusting your approach. Once you are clear on the problem you need to solve, it’s that much easier to make the right changes. This is what Total Quality Management is all about.
Always remember that your goal is to be in a more favourable position than you were previously. Track your training; track your results; listen to the information. It will only help you to improve your overall Training efforts, and by extension the efficacy and credibility of your organization!