Creating Programs That Work | A Simple Guide to Training Needs Analysis

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the need to identify high-priority training needs for your people while at the same time being conscious that you need training that translates into real-value impact lasting well beyond the training intervention? Getting the right learning to the right people and producing durable results can be a challenge. Here are some quick tips to conducting the all-important needs analysis and eventually getting to breakthrough learning that will deliver what you and your people need.

Make Sure Training Is the Right Answer

Training produces results. We know this. However, remember that old adage “if the only tool you have in your toolbox is a hammer, then everything can look like a nail.”  Sometimes poor performance can be down to factors outside a knowledge and skills gap. It might be caused, for example, by environmental issues like a management culture that doesn’t support performance, where incentives may be misaligned, or it could simply be a problem around resources or tools within the environment. You must figure out pretty quickly what the causes of poor performance are in order to be sure that training will be an effective solution.

Blog 3_Graphic (002)If you exclude the environmental issues, then poor performance is generally down to a lack of knowledge, a deficit of skills, a mix of these, or possibly a lack of motivation.  Generally speaking, training can target knowledge, skills, and sometimes motivation shortfalls.
Once you’ve established you’ve got a training need, then the next step is to start talking. A good place to begin is with the simple question “Why?”

Start with “Why?”

Whether your training requirement has come from a request from someone else in your organization or from your own analysis, always track down the why of it. That “why” will hopefully be a business goal.

Dump anything that sounds like an “order.” Cue: phone rings and a voice says, “Hey, we need two hours of training on Alpha learning concepts for Team Turin by end of quarter one.” Push back on a conversation starter like this with your own “Just tell me a little more about it. Why do you need Alpha learning concepts exactly?” And “What’s the driver behind your request?” Questions like this should help lead to an understanding of the business issues involved, ultimately resulting in a clear statement of business goals and outcomes.

Sometimes when we’re talking with colleagues about training, we feel obliged to “catch on” quickly, to “get it.” This can be detrimental to figuring out what’s really necessary. A simple technique is to ask for help understanding a point, “Can you explain to me how this works please, how Team Turin use Alpha learning concepts exactly? What do they need to do?” Stay with it until you get a clear picture of the changes that you are looking to bring about in your learners, department, or organization.

Caveat. Beware any training request that comes bearing a slide deck outline of the proposed course. While such material will be useful, alarm bells should go off because someone is trying to leap over your needs analysis. Start with the why and through some simple questioning figure out what’s really needed, what end results will look like, and how it might be measured.

Crystal Clear Goals

What you’re expecting from these steps include:

  • Clear learning outcomes and goals
  • A sense of what your metrics might be, for example, Team Turin will reduce customer care errors by 50% by end of next quarter
  • Some design and delivery ideas as well as the core information to communicate 

Gathering Data

There has been a tradition in learning of data gathering. There are lots of methods to choose from, including staff surveys, consultations, interviews, records, and reports; all are ways and means of accumulating the data you need to make informed choices about training. In most cases, however, you simply won’t have the time. With a few carefully crafted questions, you can rapidly get to the answers, as long as you involve key stakeholders at the outset. And when we say data, we don’t mean all the data you can gather on just about everyone. You can’t do that. What you need to do is sample – get data from a representative sample of people.

Chain of Logic

Once you start getting data on board, you can start thinking about the shape of your solution. Keep a chain of logic working throughout your analysis phase. If you know what the business need looks like, let’s say it’s improving Team Turin’s audit results, you can quickly enough infer what actions or tasks people need to be able to do in order to improve these results.

Remember where you started – your first step? Begin by establishing the business need underpinning the request and everything else will flow from there. Look at what people need to be doing, the behavior they need to demonstrate, and then gather just the data you need to identify if/what type of solution will resolve that need. Be conscious of the wider environment that people perform in and other factors that can impact their performance. Then, once you have honed in on a training need, move toward designing your solution by focusing always on the business goal or problem and the related performance/behavior needs. Maintain your chain of logic.

Intuition offer a wide range of digital content, platforms, and services to clients globally. We understand Needs Analysis and the process doesn’t have to be quite as painful as you imagine.

Why not set up a call with us today?