You’ve been tasked with the responsibility of creating a new training program for your organisation. Great! The business sees the need, you have stakeholder support and the budget has been approved. This is a big deal for the business so you want to provide them the best possible solution that really develops the people needing to participate in the program and you want to see them equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to create lasting change in the business. So where do you start?
The Training Needs Analysis (TNA) is an essential part of the overall development project. It’s your opportunity to take the time to really get in and identify the training needs within your organisation through thorough analysis. It will not only give you, as the program lead, all the information required to go ahead with the design and development of the program, it will also give you an opportunity to start managing the expectations of the key players in the project. This is made easier when you build trust with these key players by directly involving them and giving them a voice on the project.
Your TNA consists largely of data analysis, and this can occur through a number of different means:
- Process analysis
Although this is the core of any good TNA you should not limit your efforts to just this activity.
Below are 5 tips on how to get the most of the TNA process:
Identify business outcomes upfront
This is an essential step to any training project and is often completely missed. You need to be very clear about what exactly the business wants to achieve with the development activity, how it aligns to the business strategy, and what tangible return on investment they are expecting as a result of learning being successfully implemented in the business. Document exactly what success looks like and how it will be measured.
Ask stakeholders the right questions in the analysis
After all, these are the people that have identified the skill or knowledge gap in the first place, so they’ll have a good idea as to why they think training needs to happen. When speaking to the stakeholder you want to make sure you are doing a robust root cause analysis. Drill down on what they are telling you to find out exactly where the business issue is.
Another key reason for speaking to your stakeholder is to find out their level of engagement with the project and where it ranks on their priority list. Without a sense of urgency to drive change you will find roadblocks at the implementation stage of the project. If you know this is likely to be a challenge for you up front, consider implementing change management measures that help better articulate the need – and urgency – for change.
Is training really the answer?
This links back your conversation with stakeholders. Often a skill or knowledge gap gets identified by the business when in actual fact there can be another underlying issue that has contributed to the drop in business performance. Make sure that the issue is not employee performance or mishandled change management. Also make sure there aren’t external factors in play, for example a process that spans across multiple departments, that are preventing people from carrying out tasks effectively.
Analysis, both subjectively and objectively
Traditionally, TNA has been heavily focused on what the employee needs to know, what they do know and what they don’t know, thereby identifying the gap and the training need. This is important, but we also need to look at any barriers that exist that might prevent the employee being able to actually implement what they’ve learned and ensure the change is sustainable. Ask people when you interview them how they feel about the change. Do they see the need to do something differently? Do they actually want to change how they currently do things? What are their concerns? Always remember that training projects are change projects, and that the TNA should take this into account.
Don’t rely on what people say, observe performance
When conducting your analysis it’s critical to directly observe performance rather than relying on what people saying what they can and can’t do. Observing people carrying out specific tasks gives you much more authentic and reliable data. By observing a cross-section of people from within one or more departments you will also get a good understanding of the varying levels of performance that currently exist. This helps you ensure the training program is pitched appropriately, not only in terms of the processes and tasks involved, but also the range of ability and skills evident in the people performing those tasks.
In conclusion, your TNA will set your project up for success. By following these few simple tips you can ensure your organisation is getting a program that will meet their business outcome and effectively address the gap in business performance.