The Training Needs Assessment (TNA) is a process that aims to determine if there is a training need and, if so, to define what training is needed to meet it. The TNA process is the first step in the implementation of training and development actions for employees and involves a series of steps that allows us to discover what skills, knowledge, or attitudes are necessary to improve employees’ performance and, consequently, the efficiency, quality, and results of the activities carried out at the company. We can say that:
Training Needs = Desired Capacity – Employees’ Current Capacity
We may not want to think that our company’s employees have gaps in the knowledge or skills they are expected to have in order to successfully do their work, but this is something that happens quite often. Especially as the needs of the business change, or techniques and technologies advance, staff may need to be constantly playing catch-up to acquire the skills required by new ways of working.
Training can reduce or eliminate these gaps, equipping employees with knowledge and skills and encouraging them to develop and improve their capabilities. But before we begin developing just any training plan to implement, usually based on perceived needs, we need to stop and base that plan on a suitable, real, and objective needs analysis that will lead us to an effective solution.
To gain a comprehensive understanding of the company’s real needs, the first step is to obtain data on the current situation. Here, the goal of the TNA is to answer some familiar questions: what, why, who, how, when, and how much..
- What organizational need will the training address?
- Why conduct the training?
- Who needs the training? Who are the key stakeholders in the training initiative? Who will develop the training?
- How can the gap be addressed? How has training been facilitated traditionally? Are new approaches required?
- What is the most appropriate way to carry out the activities?
- When should the training be conducted?
- How much can be spent? What’s the budget?
To answer these questions, it’s advisable to carry out the most useful type of needs analysis and even to perform a combined analysis depending on the needs and challenges that the company is facing. In the following table, there are different types of TNAs as well as the content that can be obtained from each one.
|Type of needs analysis||What questions the analysis answers|
|Performance or gap analysis||Is there a lack of knowledge or skills? How can this gap be bridged? Is training the right way to address this situation?|
|Feasibility analysis||Why should this training be conducted, and is the benefit of the training greater than the cost of the current gap?|
|Needs vs. perceptions analysis||Why should this training be conducted? Is the training actually linked to a need?|
|Outcome analysis||What specific improvement in outcome/behaviors is expected?|
|Job/task analysis||What is the best and right way to do this work? How can this job and these tasks be divided into teachable parts?|
|Target group analysis||Who is the target group for this training? What is known about them that could help design and customize this training? What other groups could benefit from the training?|
|Context analysis||When will the training be implemented? What are some other requirements to successfully facilitate the training?|
Performing one or more of the different types of TNAs allows us to complement and enrich our analysis by answering those familiar questions (what, why, who, how, when, and how much) in a comprehensive manner before making any decisions about the plan to be implemented. That way, we’ll have a basis of objective information for developing specific plans that address the problem and reduce or eliminate the gaps detected. Which ones can you use next?
About the Author:
Yolanda Barquera is Director of Talent Development at IDESAA. She is a business coach and consultant in talent development and process analysis. She is passionate about development and processes of change and loves to get new opportunities to continue learning. She is a specialist in e-Learning project design and implementation.