Employees are arguably a company’s most valuable asset, and investing in their training and development is a crucial factor in sustaining your growth and success.
This commitment makes sense when you take into account the lengthy (not to mention expensive) process of recruiting and hiring highly qualified staff.
Essentially, training (a performance improvement tool) is needed when employees are not performing up to a certain standard. In most cases, the difference between the expected and actual level of job performance would be an obvious indication of a need for training.
A successful training needs analysis will identify those who need training and what kind of training is needed.
In this article, we’ll discuss what Training Needs Analysis (TNA) is, why it’s needed for companies to succeed -and finally, how to conduct an effective TNA.
What is a Training Needs Analysis?
Training Needs Analysis (TNA) is the method of determining if a training need exists and, if it does, what kind of training is required to fill the skill gap.
By using target surveys, interviews, observations, secondary data, and/or workshops – TNA tries to determine the current situation accurately. In this case, the gap between the current and desired skill levels may indicate problems that would translate into a training need.
The term Training Needs Analysis is often referred to as “learning needs analysis” in human resource departments.
The analysis allows your HR department to bridge the gap by understanding:
- Which employee needs training?
- What kind of training is required?
- What will be the impact of this training on the performance of the employee?
- What will be the cost and resources needed for these training programs?
A training needs analysis is an important and powerful tool for all companies to grow consistently and reliably.
Why is TNA necessary for companies to succeed?
A well-conducted TNA will give you a comprehensive picture of your employee’s knowledge, skills, and abilities gaps.
Based on this, you can focus training on areas where it’s most needed.
Consequently, you can allocate training and development budgets in a way that offers your organisation the most impact and return on investments (ROI).
6 Advantages of conducting a Training Needs Analysis:
- Identifying performance gaps
- Aligns training with organisational objectives
- Determines the ‘Where’, ‘What’, and ‘Who’ factors of training
- Provides a benchmark for training evaluation
- Reduces the risk of training failure
- Helps manage training budgets effectively
But how exactly do you conduct a Training Needs Analysis? Let’s take a look.
How do you conduct a Training Needs Analysis (TNA)
At the core of any effective training program is correctly identifying what or who needs to be trained.
Training solutions developed without conducting adequate needs analyses risk training the wrong competencies, the wrong people, and using the wrong learning methods.
The best way to ensure you cover all bases is to use a training needs analysis template.
A handy checklist that helps you stay organised so you can get the most from your L&D initiatives.
1. Identify and Define Your Organisational Goals
Without initially determining what you hope to gain, it’s hard to plan out your training requirements.
It’s much simpler to outline how to get the results you require if you take into account your organisational goals on both the micro and macro levels.
Talk with your managers and C-level executives to nail down:
- Your quarterly goals.
- How is your current training supporting those goals?
- Are you in need of additional training in order to achieve those goals?
Though it goes without saying that organisations should concentrate on measurable results (e.g., financial performance, revenue, profit, or share price), it’s also necessary to take into account softer outcomes such as organisational culture and customer satisfaction.
A great place to start is by asking yourself the following questions:
- What is your organisation trying to achieve in terms of overall objectives?
- Which of your organisational goals require the biggest change in employee behaviour?
- Are any of your departments lagging considerably behind others in terms of goal progress?
- What about individual performance goals – are there any areas of concern stopping you from achieving your organisational goals?
Lastly, take a look at your company’s culture. Are there any cultural cues that might be reinforcing undesirable behaviours that prevent you from reaching your organisational goals?
2. Define The Required Knowledge and Skills
The second step in the process is defining the specific skills you need to reach your goal; the more particular you are, the more effective the training programs will be.
It’s good to remember that not everyone will need the same type of training.
Your sales team will need a different set of skills, knowledge and abilities than your customer service team.
Make sure to specify particular demands for each employee in your organisation, or at the very least a departmental level.
Once you’ve specified your organisational goals, take the time to outline what type of training would help achieve those goals.
Essentially, training needs are broken down into three categories:
- Skills – Skills training programs should provide guidance and support in areas where learners are focusing on specific types of behaviours – whether it be team building, time management, or public speaking.
- Knowledge – Knowledge-based training is a method of training that focuses more on theoretical learning that encourages your employees to experience, understand, obtain, and/or recall information(Knowledge training is often essential for things like compliance training)
- Practical – If you’ve noticed your employees completing their training but the acquired skills and knowledge are not reflected in their performance, you may need to incorporate more practical training.
The purpose of this training is to allow your employees to practice their new skills in a safe environment (e.g., simulations, role plays, or knowledge checks).
3. Setting Timelines and Priorities
This stage calls for the actual development of your training program.
Aside from the content of the training, you also need to establish a training schedule and set priorities to fit your budget.
Factors you’ll need to consider include:
- What are your goals and how quickly do you want to achieve them?
- What format will you use to provide training?
- And how will you keep track of the effectiveness of your L&D programs to ensure the training you provide is helping you achieve your set of organisational goals?
There are a variety of approaches and tools you can use to monitor the progress of your employees.
Traditionally, surveys and interviews are often the preferred methods. However, there are also more advanced analytical approaches such as data mining that you may use to collect information.
If you’re just starting out, the best tip here is to keep it simple.
You can utilise everyday tools that are easily available to you, like excel spreadsheets to monitor how your team members have developed, assess their level of interest in learning specific skill sets, and compare learned competencies with the overall objectives.
By doing this, you can measure the effectiveness of your training and whether you’re achieving your goals by using a Training Needs Analysis (TNA).
The final and most vital stage, yet the most overlooked part of the entire process is ROI.
Understandably, ROI on training is often hard to measure as better soft skills, an increase in confidence or a wider knowledge base cannot be quantified.
However, it’s still important to consider what constitutes a successful training outcome in your analysis.
Regardless of how you decide to measure success, use it to guide your progress as you work towards achieving your established goals.
Just like technology is changing at a very fast pace, so are the training and development needs of your employees; as it helps groom them to reach their full potential.
Training Needs Analysis (TNA) is an essential tool for HR professionals.
By assessing your employees’ skills, knowledge, and abilities, you can determine what areas of learning and development (L&D) you would need to focus on.
With the data you acquire, you can develop successful training programs that support the growth and development of not only your employees but your organisation as a whole.
Especially with recent events (the pandemic), training programs have proven to be more essential than ever. In fact, according to McKinsey, “training and reskilling your employees has become an essential tool that can help companies emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis”.
Take the first step in tackling your training needs by exploring our courses.