How to Conduct a Training Needs Assessment
What's at the heart of every good training program?
At the heart of any good training program is a Training Needs Assessment. Without it you run the risk of providing a training course to a client that trains them in the wrong area, doesn’t target the right people or utilise the wrong learning methods.
Initially, it is important to understand what your Training Needs Assessment needs to cover. Generally this will be:
- What training is needed and why?
- Who needs it?
- How will it be delivered?
- What will the results be?
Let’s dive right in and take it step by step to determine ways in which you can answer these questions.
1. Identify the Desired Result
If you’re producing a training course for a client, you need to discover what the goal of the training is.
Examples of these goals could be:
- Improving customer satisfaction ratings
- Increasing conversion rates
- Improving employee success through better supervisions
When you’ve determined the overall training goal, this needs to be clearly stated and kept at the core of the development process to ensure that the course meets it at every turn.
2. Identify Desired Behaviours
Once you understand the result that the training course will glean, you need to pinpoint what needs to be learned to achieve this. Learners need to:
- Know what they need to do to succeed.
- Have the capability to do it.
- Have the motivation to do it.
Before your learners know this, though, you need to know it. So now is the time to identify crucial competencies, such as personal characteristics, abilities, behaviours and knowledge that will natural need to the desired result.
Finding this out comes in the form of data collection. This can be carried out through interviews, surveys or group discussions. By hearing directly from the people you are looking to train, you can hear directly from them what they think they need alongside what you think they need. This will help you to articulate exactly what they need to do to succeed and compile a training program that will help them do it.
3. Identify Gaps in Performance
Once you fully understand how the ultimate goal is to be met, and the competencies involved in doing so, you can take the data you compiled in step 2 to identify ‘performance gaps’. Dependent on the depth and breadth of the research, it is possible to identify who needs training and where training needs to be focused. Once this is clear, you should have a strong foundation on which to build you training course.
4.Design your Training
With all the information in front of you, now is the time to get planning your next course. It is important at this point to take into account adult learning principles to determine the best ways to train the learners.
This could be in the form of:
- On the job training;
- Classroom learning;
- Online learning; or
- Mentoring and coaching
By compiling a course that uses a blended approach to learning styles, it is possible to appeal to a range of learners. That being said, one of the most crucial adult learning principles is that they are self-directed, so the bulk of your course should focus around the learning demonstrating a skill or performing a task that relates directly to the job they are going to be doing. Studies have shown that the rate of retention is about 75% for performing a skill or task, in contrast to 10% for reading and 30% for watching a demonstration.
Training Needs Assessments will form the cornerstone of any training course. Whether you are working with a client to create a course for their organisation, or working to create one of your own, taking the time to carry out this assessment will help you see the areas that require attentions vs areas that are working well. In identifying a performance gap, it is possible to put together effective courses that fulfil the expectations of your clients or potential attendees, provided the content is engaging, enjoyable, and hands on enough to capitalise on the retention of your learners.