How to Conduct an Effective Training Need Analysis?

A number of Sales Managers complain that their sales teams don’t meet their monthly sales targets and this issue can be addressed by conducting a product training or a selling skills workshop. And they want this training program to be conducted as soon as possible so that their teams start performing and achieving their targets. Most of Training professionals come across such demands of quick training sessions which will address all the worries of sales managers and transform their teams into super performers. A number of Trainers do think the same and fall in this trap that training is an answer to all performance issues. First they need to understand till the time the real problem is not identified; proposing a training solution or an intervention can be very expensive and fruitless. Now question arises that how can we know what kind of training programs do we need to address the performance issues and what could be other interventions to address the issues? In this post I will explain how can an effective Training Need Analysis help to identify the real training issues in a systematic way and going forward linking training interventions to the overall organizational objectives?

Training Need Analysis: TNA is the process of determining and ordering training goals, measuring training needs and deciding on priorities for training action. Training can’t fill all the performance gaps, but a TNA will identify any gaps that can be filled by training. Following are reasons for conducting the TNA:

  • To determine what training is relevant to your employee’s job
  • To determine the required level of skill/knowledge and the current level of skill/knowledge
  • To determine if the training will make a difference
  • To identify the most appropriate training to bridge the gap.
  • Effective training starts with good diagnose.
  • To measure and assess the benefits of the training.
  • To prioritize the training to fill the performance gaps.

Role of Training Need Analysis in the Training Cycle: Training Need Analysis directly influences the other steps of the training cycle.

Analysis: The systematic process to analyze the training requirements in relations to issues affecting the business performance.

Design: The design phase deals with defining the learning objectives, delivery formats, assessment tools, content, activities, subject matter analysis, and lesson planning.

Development: The development phase deals with creation of the course materials based on Design phase.

Implementation: During implementation the plan is put into action. Training with course content is delivered/ distributed to the trainees and trainee’s understanding is checked. The Evaluation forms are collected from the trainees to evaluate the effectiveness of the training program.

Evaluation: Evaluating the employee/team performance before and after training as without evaluation we will not know whether the training has had the desired results.

The training cycle may go haywire if the first step (i.e. Analysis) of the training cycle is not done properly as the other steps of the learning process are dependent upon the outcomes of the analysis. While we conduct a TNA, the gathered information plays an important role in determining the training design & development, implementation and evaluation process. Improper information leads to ill designed training to address the performance issues. An effective Training Need Analysis requires following 3 different types of analysis:

Organizational Analysis:

It’s done to align the training with business strategy and to ensure that all the stakeholder in the organization are supportive and are on board with training initiative and adequate resources (training budget etc.) are available. The data required to conduct the organizational analysis is gathered mainly from senior and mid level managers as they are responsible for strategic planning decisions and budget allocations. Organizational analysis also tells if there is low support for training then we can have some other intervention to address the performance issue.

Task Analysis:

A task analysis is a four step process and it answers the question: “What does good performance look like?” It involves gathering data on specific tasks an employee must perform to finish his job and his current level of Knowledge, Skills, Behaviors and Abilities (KSBAs) required for the specific job. Understanding what employees need to accomplish in their jobs is important to understand how training can address the performance issues. The following are four steps to conduct a Task Analysis:

  1. Selecting the job to be analyzed.
  2. Preparing the list of the tasks to be performed.
  3. Validating the tasks by asking the following questions from SMEs, line managers and employee:
  • Performance Measures: How well it must be performed?
  • Frequency: How often is the task performed (Hourly, Daily, Weekly, etc.)?
  • Importance: How worthy is it to the overall job? What place of importance is this task as compared to performer’s other tasks?
  • Level of difficulty: Use a standard scale such as one to ten to capture: How hard is it?
  • Steps: What are logical steps for performing the task?
  • Identifying the KSBAs that should be trained to address the performance gaps.

Learner Analysis:

You have all heard this phrase: “Know your audience!”. It is one of those truths in life which crosses over many disciplines. If you are selling a product you are taught to know the needs of the customer, similarly if you are designing a training program you need to know your learner. Learner Analysis helps us to understand whether the performance deficiencies are due to lack of KSBAs or due to lack of motivation or due to work design problem. The following are the steps to conduct learner analysis

  • For each identified target audience, select a sample of learners.
  • The most common technique for gathering information from the learners is structured interviews. Observations and performance testing can also be used. While you interview learners take careful notes of the responses without any biasness.
  • Gather any existing data which is available for the each of the learner. It may be their educational back ground, their experience, employment statistics, their KRA’s & KPI’s, performance appraisals etc.

I am sure this post will help you to conduct an effective Training Need Analysis to know the performance gaps and plan your training interventions accordingly.