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Training Needs Analysis

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Training Needs Analysis
Lisa Coats-Birchett
BUS 680: Training and Development
Dr. Katie Thiry
April 29, 2013

Abstract
Training needs analysis is a systematic method for determining what caused performance to be less than expected or required (Blanchard & Thacker, 2010). When one thinks of training needs analysis, one wants to know what exactly the company needs for the future. There is a time and place to look at needed KSA’s and there is a need to look at performance levels and what they need to be and what training is needed. Then it is possible for them to decide what type of training they need and why. After it is decided what type of training needs the company has then the classes can be set up either with a classroom, online, e-training, or there can be one on one training or even a combination of those types of training. Once the classes are over with it is important for an evaluation to take place to make sure that the training was successful and for everyone to take a test and make sure they comprehend what was taught in the classes they took. If the training was not successful then it either needs to be retaken or they need to be retrained through a different type of training as each individual learns and comprehends in different ways.

Training Needs Analysis There is sure to come a time in every organization when a training needs analysis will come into play. Training is something that is essential in every job in today’s society. It does not matter what job you do, where you are employed or where you end up with your career training is an essential part of how you got there. An organization makes better decisions when they use a training needs analysis. By using this method they can greatly increase productivity, decrease turnover, and give their employees a better sense of what is going on with the company. According to Blanchard and Thacker (2010), the cause of performance gaps might be inadequate knowledge, skills, or attitudes of employees. If so, then training is a possible solution. However, KSA deficiencies are only one of many reasons for performance gaps. The analysis phase also attaches a priority to the training needs that are identified. Training needs analysis is important because it helps determine whether training can correct the performance problems at hand. In some cases employees may have the knowledge, skills, and attitudes required to do the job, but there are roadblocks that prevent effective performance. A TNA ensures that only those who need the training attend and provides the data to show trainees why the training will be useful to them (Blanchard & Thacker, 2010). Derek Stockley (2013) tells us that the training needs analysis is part of the training cycle. Stockley states the training needs analysis is the first critical stage in the training cycle. The others are normally identified as design, presentation, and evaluation and he tells us that the cycle is continuous. According to Stockley (2013), there are many aspects to training needs analysis, but the essential activity involves determining what is required to complete the work activity; determining the existing skill levels of the staff completing the work; and determining the training gap (if any). The training gap is the difference between required and existing skill levels. The word “skill” is generic and includes knowledge, skills, attitude and aptitude required to undertake the activity efficiently and effectively. A common term also used is competency. Resources, timing, priorities, and change factors-all affect the design of the TNA project. The TNA approach needs to recognize: size/geographic factors; growth factors; range of job skills; existing HR systems. Training needs analysis allows management to scope the size of the training issues to be addressed (Stockley, 2013). There are three types of training needs analysis: organizational needs analysis, job needs analysis, and person needs analysis. According to many training experts, attaining the objectives of the business should be the ultimate concern of any training and development effort. Therefore, conducting an organizational needs analysis should be the first step in effective needs assessment. It can include a human resource analysis, analysis of efficiency indexes, and an assessment of the organizational climate (Jackson & Schuler, 2002). The specific content of present or anticipated jobs is examined through job analysis. For existing jobs, information on the tasks to be performed, the skills necessary to perform those tasks and the minimum acceptable standards are gathered. This information can then be used to ensure that training programs are job specific and useful (Jackson & Schuler, 2002). A person needs analysis identifies gaps between a person’s current capabilities and those identified as necessary or desirable. Person needs analysis can be either broad or narrow in scope. The first method is based on actual, current job performance of an employee; therefore, it can be used to determine training needs for the current job. The second method, on the other hand, can be used to identify development needs for future jobs (Jackson & Schuler, 2002). Several methods can be used to identify the training needs of individuals such as output measures, self-assessed training needs, and attitude surveys. Output measures are activities such as performance data, as well as performance appraisal ratings, and can provide evidence of performance deficiencies. Person needs analysis can also consist of work sample and job knowledge tests that measure performance capability and knowledge (Jackson & Schuler, 2002). The self-assessment of training needs is growing in popularity. Self-assessment is premised on the assumption that employees, more than anyone else, are aware of their weaknesses and performance deficiencies. Therefore, they’re in the best position to identify their own training needs. Attitude surveys completed by a supervisor’s subordinates or by customers or by both also can provide information on training needs (Jackson & Schuler, 2002). An organization wants to make sure that they provide the correct type of training for their employees. If they do not have the training their employees’ need the organization runs the risk of resources being wasted on money, time, and training that will not be used or utilized. It is important to do the right type of needs assessment so the organization knows what type of training needs to be set up. It is possible some employees do not need to be trained, while others need new training, and others may need to be retrained. According to Blanchard & Thacker (2010), a good TNA ensures that only those who need training attend and provides the data to show trainees why the training will be useful to them. Consider the employees who do not need the training but are sent by their supervisor anyway. Are they going to take the training seriously? Their lack of interest might be distracting to those who need and want the training. Worse, they might cause other trainees not to take the training seriously. Using a TNA also ensures that your training focuses on KSA’s the trainees really need. The needs analysis allows the trainer to begin by explaining how the training will be useful. If trainees see the training as relevant, they are more likely to be interested in attending and maintain interest during the training (Blanchard & Thacker, 2010). According to Saleem (2007), training needs analysis process is a series of activities conducted to identify problems or other issues in the workplace, and to determine whether training is an appropriate response. The needs analysis is usually the first step taken to cause a change. This is mainly because a needs analysis specifically defines the gap between the current and the desired individual and organizational performances. An in-house trainer or a consultant performs a needs analysis to collect and document information concerning any of the following three issues: performance problems, anticipated introduction of new system, task or technology, or a desire by the organization to benefit from a perceived opportunity. When properly done, a needs analysis is a wise investment for the organization. It saves time, money and effort by working on the right problems. Organizations that fail to support needs analysis make costly mistakes; they use training when another method would have been more effective; they use too much or too little training, or they use training but fail to follow up on it (Saleem, 2007). Training needs will differ with the backgrounds of the employees to be trained, and their present status in the organization. Basically, a candidate for training may come from any one of three groups: new hires, veteran employees, and trainees currently in the training pipeline. The new employees will normally be of somewhat different backgrounds. Being new, they are not familiar with their new employers. The earliest phases of the training must concentrate on company orientation. During these phases, the organization, organization policies and administrative details should be covered. It is also a suitable time to acquaint the trainees with what will be expected of him/her, and how he/she will be evaluated throughout the phase of training (Saleem, 2007). The people in the veteran employee category offer a real challenge to the training department. Often the retraining and upgrading of former employees can be very rewarding for training instructors. There are advantages in keeping this group intact and tailoring the program to their needs. On the other hand, this category of employees can also make significant contribution to training if they are comingled with the new hires (Saleem, 2007). A good training program will normally have participants in various phases of completion. An awareness of completion dates and how the potential employee will be employed should be the concern of the training staff and also the employee’s supervisor. A trainee should have a challenge in all phases of his training. All these challenges should not be confined to those phases where the pipeline employee is sitting in a classroom. Therefore, it is recommended that thorough interim test-work be given to pipeline employees in periods between formal classes (Saleem, 2007). There are a number of practical methods you can use to gather data about employees’ performance. Always use at least two, if for no other reason to validate your findings. One of those you choose should always be observation (Saleem, 2007). The objective during observation is to identify both the strengths to build on and the deficiencies to overcome. A key advantage of using direct observation in the needs analysis is that you gain first-hand knowledge and understanding of the job being performed and the strengths and weaknesses of the relevant worker. The use of interviews in conducting the needs analysis is strongly urged. Interviews allow you to meet employees face to face to discuss their impressions of performance. Because you are in conversation with workers, you can explore their responses in depth. You can ask for clarification of comments and for examples of what they mean. You can obtain a full understanding of their performance deficiencies (Saleem, 2007). Through interviewing you also build credibility with your interviewees by asking intelligent questions and listening well to their answers. You obtain employees’ personal involvement and commitment to your efforts. You establish personal relationships with potential trainees who are important to your success as a needs analyst and trainer (Saleem, 2007). A questionnaire is a sort of interview on paper. The key advantage of a questionnaire is that you can include every person from whom you want input. Questionnaires can be useful in obtaining a ‘big picture’ of what a large number of employees think while allowing everyone to feel that they have had an opportunity to participate in the needs analysis process (Saleem, 2007). Before establishing a job description, a job analysis must be made. This job analysis involves a thorough study of all responsibilities of the relevant job. It is company wide in scope and should be detailed to such a degree that those conducting the training can use the job analysis as a yardstick for their course content. Difficulty analysis establishes which of the duties cause the employee the greatest amount of troubles and how this trouble can be reduced through better training. A good difficulty analysis enables a needs analyst to weigh certain aspects of the training in relationship to the expected difficulty that the worker will face in coping with those duties. A well thought out difficulty analysis will provide the training program with an abundance of role-playing material and situations (Saleem, 2007). Another time-tested technique for gathering needs analysis material from employees is to conduct periodic problem solving conferences which may take the form of or be part of a plan for a new product, task or technology, or tied in with a training program. It is always helpful to utilize an outside consultant to moderate such sessions. This outside sponsorship has a tendency of letting the workers express their feelings about his organization and the session can then be geared to training needs (Saleem, 2007). Identifying the forces that cause an employee to behave in a certain way may be useful in determining his individual training needs and how to stimulate his desire to fulfill that need. An analysis of this kind may determine that the employee has an urgent need for self-confidence. Organization policy will affect the amount of training offered. An explanation of various policies should be covered in the training program. Of particular concern are those policies that involve change, alteration and major revamping of training programs (Saleem, 2007). Whatever method is used to identify training needs, at least three points must be kept in view: These methods should be used in combination; never rely on only one method. They may be used to identify training needs of each of the various groups of employees. They should be applied to individual employees since training needs will vary with the individual employee (Saleem, 2007). According to the website www.reliablesurveys.com, it is very important to have the right needs assessment. With the right needs assessment there are several achievements you can accomplish. A training needs assessment that gives you a consensus of what skills are important to job performance. It will tell you what skills are important at different levels and functional groups in the organization. Training needs assessment that gives you a consensus of which of those critical skills are in need of training. Some think this is the same as what’s important. There is significant overlap between what is important and what is in need of training. In some cases, especially in organizations that train well and often, people have already received extensive training in the most important skills. In other situations, people want training in skills that aren’t critical to strategy, but which are recognized or rewarded in their organization. A needs assessment that gives you a consensus of what skills are actually aligned with strategy in the way the organization rewards. Without alignment of rewards and incentives, your training may succeed, but the skills will not be supported by the workplace when the training is over. A needs assessment that can tell you whether people are answering honestly or “fudging” is a Scaled Comparison. The Scaled Comparison cannot be unobtrusively manipulated, so decision makers are alerted to results that look plausible but can’t be trusted. The Scaled Comparison can distinguish between manipulation and simple confusion about what the questions or skills mean (www.reliablesurveys.com). A training assessment is a tool that is a completely custom product. It will ask the questions you want to ask, about the skills you want to study, using language your people will recognize as unique to your organization or industry. Finally you get needs assessment that gives you a readable, no statistics necessary report. Shown in these pages are samples of how the questionnaire might look, the reports that give decision makers understandable views of the results, with no jargon or numerical mumbo-jumbo (www.reliablesurveys.com). It is very important that training needs analysis is done appropriately, as well as, in the right context. Training needs analysis should be done at least annually or bi-annually so the training needs of the organization are met accordingly. It is appropriate to do this analysis like this in order to be able to train new employees, veteran employees and to have continuity with the employees currently being trained.
References
Blanchard, P.N. & Thacker, J. W. (2010). Effective Training: Systems, Strategies, and Practices (4th ed). Upper Saddle River, N.J: Prentice Hall.
Jackson, S. E. & Schuler, R. S. (2002, April 2). Training Need Analysis. Retrieved from http://www.explorehr.org/articles/Training_+_Development/Training_Need_Analysis.html
Saleem, H. (2007, June 3). How to Conduct a Training Needs Analysis. Retrieved from http://www.dirjournal.com/guides/how-to-conduct-a-training-needs-analysis/
Stockley, D. (2013, March 28). Training Needs Analysis as Part of the Training Cycle. Retrieved from http://derekstockley.com.au/tna.html
Training Needs Assessment. (2008, June 8). Retrieved from http://www.reliablesurveys.com/trainingneeds.html

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