Importance of training needs analysis

In this fast paced corporate world, where every now and then changes occur and performance of employees gets mapped against targets on a routine basis, it is very easy to say that training is needed to improve the stats! Training…..hmmmm, that’s quite a vague term isn’t it? Have you ever stopped to think if training might not actually be the answer? Do you really wish to spend hours of effort and resources on something that was not in fact required in the first place?

As part of the L&D team, I’m sure that you have seen instances where your clients neither have the time nor the resource and more often the budget to actually assess the current scenario to understand the training needs and hence you end up devising a generic plan which keeps everyone happy instead of conducting a training needs analysis.

A training needs analysis is a process by which you identify the training needs and requirements of a group of employees. This is done by understanding the problem, defining its root causes and finally chalking out a rough plan of the solution keeping the key matrices in mind. Now, if you are not clear on what is the issue being faced by employees causing a dip in performance, how can you formulate a training plan to tackle the same? It is like going on a road trip with no sense of direction or destination! Sure, it’s fun in the beginning but involves a lot of cost in terms of fuel and time!

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In an organization, before delving straight into the process of developing a training plan, we should understand the basic pointers:

  • Are our employees in the wrong profile? If yes, can they be reallocated to some other project?
  • Is it a skill issue or a will issue? Training definitely cannot alter the attitude of a person!
  • Are the tools/processes creating a hindrance? Is it a simple matter of upgrading everyone’s system or rectifying a process flaw?
  • Do employees know what is actually expected out of them? Have the goals been clearly communicated or have we assumed that they know about them?
  • And lastly, if there is a knowledge gap (which everyone points their fingers at), is it because of a new product/service/process or because of a change that had recently happened?

Once the problem is correctly identified, rectification of the same should begin. In majority of the cases, because we tend to get our training mode on without wasting a second thought on its usefulness! By now, you might be thinking… but training never hurts anybody. In fact, the worst it can do is to polish your existing skills! So, it is really an issue that I train everyone in my team regardless of their performance?! Well, let’s look at some scenarios to understand this.

Training a fish to fly

There isn’t a training plan that fits all sizes! C’mon, we are not teaching someone how to walk! Trying to train everyone everything is not only time consuming but also totally unproductive and fruitless. Imagine training everyone in your tech team important topics that have nothing to do with their job! This is a huge waste of time and money; something that could have been avoided by understating the needs and devising an appropriate training plan.

Training to fly on a bicycle

There are many issues in an organization which cannot be solved by training. Many times the need for training arises when a situation is at the far end of the ‘danger tunnel’! Donning on the panic cap, employers feel that training is the correct answer for all their woes. This madcap urgency leads to a botched up training plan which gets delivered within a day just so that it can be documented that training was provided to rectify the ever declining progress graph! But trust me, teaching all the right skills in an erroneous way is as good as learning how to fly using a bicycle!

Before delivering a training session, there is yet another vertical that should be part of your need analysis; and that is the style of it. After sorting out the requirements and the nitty gritty details associated with the team to get trained, you should chalk out the delivery style. Considering the group of participants, the questions that you need to ponder upon are:

  • M-learning, e-learning, classroom based or a combination of all?
  • One-to-one or formal structured training?
  • Should the training material be handed beforehand or should it be on-demand so that in future it can be referred to?

A well-structured training can help your employees’ performance peak to the ultimate zenith. On the contrary, a poor one would:

  • Waste time and money
  • Ignore other needs which require more attention
  • Cause confusion among employees
  • Loss of belief in the entire training model
  • Shake the confidence of everyone in the organization—from the frontline staff to higher management.

Bottomline: Please do invest in a thorough training needs analysis before formulating and executing any training programs in your organization!

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