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Assessing Training Needs. A Need Assessment Process Template Presented to the BOP, National Institute of Corrections Training Directors Network, May 2005. Robert Dibble, Jr., OK DOC and Robert Krieg, LA DOC. Objectives of Assessment Template.

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Assessing training needs

Assessing Training Needs

A Need Assessment Process Template

Presented to the BOP, National Institute of Corrections

Training Directors Network, May 2005

Robert Dibble, Jr., OK DOC and Robert Krieg, LA DOC

Objectives of assessment template
Objectives of Assessment Template

  • Observe basic principles of organizational data collection;

  • Establish sequence of steps in data collecting and use of surveys;

  • Establish qualified survey instruments;

  • Establish quantitative and qualitative methods for analyzing data;

  • Establish and observe important data collection and feedback protocols;

  • Identify precipitant problem based training needs.

Dibble and Krieg, NIC/TDN

Data collection
Data Collection

  • Identify most valid collection strategy given:

    • Available resources

    • Cost

    • Anticipated payoff from assessment

  • Use multiple data sources

    • CEO/Wardens/Admin.+direct reports+current performance standards compared to master or strategic plan

  • Rely on existing data whenever possible

  • Mix qualitative and quantitative methods

  • Use observation (even if brief)

  • Establish trust, rapport & buy-in from all respondents

  • Share results with participants

Dibble and Krieg, NIC/TDN

Use live interview or questionnaire
Use Live Interview or Questionnaire?

  • It depends?

    • Do you have support and buy-in from the top?

    • Are your key top people capable of organizing and expressing their real concerns face-to-face, or on paper?

    • Will they tolerate direct questioning?

    • Do they have confidence in you keeping source of data confidential—this applies to rank-and-file as well.

Dibble and Krieg, NIC/TDN

Suggested process sequence top down
Suggested Process Sequence(Top Down)

  • Interviews/questionnaires with CEO/Warden/Administrators and review key direct reports;

  • Feedback to CEOs and and summary of direct report sources to pare down, clarify, and focus on key issues;

  • Use results for developing interview guide with department heads;

  • Use data from above for focus group guide with supervisors;

Dibble and Krieg, NIC/TDN

Sequencing from bottom up
Sequencing From Bottom Up

  • Use results for survey with statistically significant sampling of line level employees;

  • Develop data analysis template;

  • Report on findings;

  • Re-evaluate based on feedback to findings;

  • Present analyzed findings to upper and top management for final comment/validation;

  • Curricula and lesson plan development with delivery strategies developed following management oversight and review of assessment.

Dibble and Krieg, NIC/TDN

Data collection1
Data Collection

  • Multiple information sources can reveal the ideal compared to the real.

    • What fits and what doesn’t ?







Master Plan



Dibble and Krieg, NIC/TDN

Start from the top
Start from the Top

  • Remember: It is the Leadership that

    • Sets the goals and objectives of the organization,

    • Establishes character and influences morale,

    • Energizes and drives organizations to achievement, and

    • Defines and refines the organizational mission and instills the teamwork necessary to meet that mission.

Dibble and Krieg, NIC/TDN

Facility manager administrator interviews
Facility Manager/Administrator Interviews

  • View from the top

    • Improvement Areas v.s. Problem Areas

  • Impediments to achieving goals

    • KSAAs

      • Knowledge (cognitive only)

      • Skill (cognitive capacity and/or psychomotor development)

      • Ability (psychomotor capacity and/or cognitive development)

      • Attitude (affective value placed on personal performance or the “the want to + the will to”)

Dibble and Krieg, NIC/TDN

Interviewing the top
Interviewing the Top

  • Examine external influences on future performance needs.

    • Ask for examples.

    • Ask how are these likely to change demands on employee performance?

  • Examine internal influences on current performance?

    • Ask for examples.

    • What would you want to improve on?

    • What steps do you think should be taken toward that improvement?

Dibble and Krieg, NIC/TDN

Total Score=Impact

Numeric value based on intersection of perceived deficiency level and consequence of same.

Specific topics identified in interviews or written responses.

Numeric value based on intersection of breadth and frequency perceived.

Dibble and Krieg, NIC/TDN

Perceptions from the top
Perceptions from the Top

  • Summarize reasons for new employee failure.

  • Give an example:

    • Behaviors

    • Attitudes

  • Summarize disciplinary behavior patterns in the past year.

    • Department related?

    • Time frames?

    • Periods of high or low frequencies?

  • Summarize employee complaints/grievances in the past year.

    • Related patterns?

  • Describe important problems affecting fiscal management.

    • What can you control?

    • What could employees control?

Dibble and Krieg, NIC/TDN

Facts seen from the top
Facts seen from the Top

  • Describe injury/illness experience.

    • Cyclical?

    • Primary causes?

      • On the job?

      • Off the job?

  • Other Problems?

Dibble and Krieg, NIC/TDN

  • Sample Assessment Interview Guide

  • CEO/Warden/Administrators

  • What improvements would you like to make or problems you are dealing with?

    • Reduce overtime .

  • What else comes to mind?

    • Reduce the amount of contraband—seems to run in cycles

    • I can’t get the line supervisors to conduct or have conducted proper pat-down and cell searches.

    • I get way too many complaints about long lines through the visitors processing unit.

  • What do you fell interferes with goal achievement at this facility/unit?

    • Everyone wants to get paid but no one wants to do their job properly. When something goes wrong it is always someone else's fault. Cell block supervisors complain the field never gets the line crew in in time for count.

      • My tool shed is always a mess. It takes30-minutes of sorting and cleaning to be able to start accounting for tools.

Dibble and Krieg, NIC/TDN

Remember Other Important Sources

Dibble and Krieg, NIC/TDN

Human resources
Human Resources

  • Reasons for new employee failure

    • Behaviors

    • Attitudes

    • Key comments from exit interviews

    • Formal disciplinary actions

    • Trends and patterns over time and specific periods of the year (high or low)

    • Incidents of injury on and off the job

  • Other problems experienced

Dibble and Krieg, NIC/TDN

Business managers
Business Managers

  • Fiscal Management

    • Important problems

    • Possible changes

    • Others affect on improvement

  • Other problem experiences

Dibble and Krieg, NIC/TDN

Maintenance superintendent
Maintenance Superintendent

  • Physical plant management

  • What can you control?

  • What can others control?

  • What physical plant improvements would you make?

  • Employee injuries

    • On the job

    • Off the job

    • Rank from highest to lowest

  • Other problems you see?

Dibble and Krieg, NIC/TDN

Inmate education
Inmate Education

  • Problems affecting educational programs

  • Employees’ affect

    • Positive

    • Negative

  • External factors

    • Controllable?

  • Employee injuries – on and off the job?

    • Rank from highest to lowest

  • Other problems experienced?

Dibble and Krieg, NIC/TDN

Food services
Food Services

  • Biggest problems in food services

  • What can you control?

  • What can others control?

  • Any other problems being experienced?

Dibble and Krieg, NIC/TDN

Medical administrator
Medical Administrator

  • Biggest impact on health services delivery

  • Staff availability/competency

  • What can you control?

  • What can others help to control?

  • Other problems that need to be addressed

Dibble and Krieg, NIC/TDN

After key interviews focus groups
After Key Interviews—Focus Groups

  • Structure focus group questions based on interview data.

  • Do other levels share same or similar perceptions?

  • Positives and negatives

    • What do they share and what is different

    • Are their priorities similarly aligned or are they different?

Dibble and Krieg, NIC/TDN

Need Assessment

Data Collection Sources

Observe Wherever Possible





Master Plan









Non Training Issues

Unit Managers

Shift Supervisors



Prepare Focus

Group Survey/


Report Findings

To all Stake Holders




Non Training Issues



Dibble and Krieg, NIC/TDN

What supervisors to focus on
What Supervisors to Focus On?

  • Unit Managers

  • Shift Captains

  • Lieutenants

  • Mixed groups of supervisors

    • Sergeants

    • Programs/Recreation

    • Postal

    • Warehouse

    • Control Center

    • Others

Dibble and Krieg, NIC/TDN

Rank and file officers routine contact personnel non routine contact personnel surveys
Rank-and-File OfficersRoutine Contact PersonnelNon Routine Contact Personnel (Surveys)

  • Questions derived from previous data

  • Brief and to the point

  • Simply worded but sufficient to reflect the quality of the data sought

  • Expressed in terms that may be easily ranked by range of importance, concern, and immediacy

  • Even numbered values structured to discourage mid-range plugging of data

  • Stress confidentiality

Dibble and Krieg, NIC/TDN

Data analysis findings
Data Analysis/Findings

  • Simple Matrix

  • Numeric Values

  • Summary of Findings

  • Ranking of Similarities

  • Notation of Wide Divergences

  • Categorizing of training issues v.s. other, i.e. disciplinary, recruiting, internal conflicts, external or internal constraints, etc.

Dibble and Krieg, NIC/TDN

Apply High/Medium/Low Value

Based on Upper Mgmt. Subjective Statements

Dibble and Krieg, NIC/TDN

Apply High/Medium/Low Value

Based on Upper Mgmt. Subjective Statements

Dibble and Krieg, NIC/TDN

Crunch the Numbers

Dibble and Krieg, NIC/TDN

Compare Topical Rankings

  • Management perceptions to rank-and-file

  • All life/safety issues rise to the top

  • Highest frequency and highest impact follow

  • Weed out other issues from training issues

    • Were people trained to address this issue?

    • Did people demonstrate competency/ability to address this issue at time of training?

    • Did people immediately apply competency and ability in addressing this issue on the job?

    • Are people currently applying competency and ability to this same issue?

Dibble and Krieg, NIC/TDN

Here is the Bottom Line...

You should only use training as a problem solving strategyWhen People Don't Know How to Do a Job or Task.

Dibble and Krieg, NIC/TDN

Whose performance is concerning you?

What’s the problem?



If No

Is it worth



If Yes

If No



Are Expectations


If Yes

Provide Resources



If No

Can we apply

fast fixes?




Quality Visible?

If No




If Yes


Go To

Next Slide

If No

Dibble and Krieg, NIC/TDN


Previous Slide

If No.

Is Desired





If Yes

If No

If Yes



Poor Performance


Are Consequences


If No




Consequences Used


If No

If Yes

If Yes

Go To A

Next Slide




If No



Select Best


Draft Action



And Monitor


Select and Implement Solutions

Dibble and Krieg, NIC/TDN

A From



Yes/Not Sure


Skill Deficiency?

Did It

In the Past

If No

If Yes

If Yes

Used Often



If No

Provide Practice

Can The Task

Be Made Easier?



If Yes

If No

If Yes



Any Other


If No


If No



Person Has

Potential to Change?

Select and Implement Solutions



Select Best


Draft Action



And Monitor


Dibble and Krieg, NIC/TDN

Questions to answer in conclusions recommendations
Questions to Answer in Conclusions/Recommendations

  • Is it important that they get it right?

  • Is it important enough to be worth fixing?

  • Are expectations clear?

  • Do they know it, can they do it, and do they know why it is important?

  • Are they doing it wrong or are they just doing it different?

  • Is it rewarding to do it wrong?

  • How often do they perform it?

  • If their lives or careers depended upon doing it right, would they be able to do it right?

Dibble and Krieg, NIC/TDN

So what do you do interventions responses
So What Do You Do?(interventions/responses)

  • Provide formal training if indicated?

  • Provided guided practice?

  • Provide job aid?

  • Establish accountability standards?

  • Reward performers?

  • Punish non performers?

  • Reassignment?

  • Assist in updating resumes?

  • Or, do nothing?

Dibble and Krieg, NIC/TDN

Credit where credit is due
Credit Where Credit Is Due

  • National Institute of Corrections Training Directors Network, Federal Bureau of Prisons

  • Robert Dibble, Jr., Oklahoma Department of Corrections

  • Sharon Naquin, Ph.D., Louisiana State University, Workforce Development

  • Comprehensive Public Training Program, Training and Education Certificate Program, Louisiana Division of Administration

  • McKinsey Group, G.E./McKinsey Consultants Nine-Box Matrix

  • Robert F. Mager and Peter Pipe. Analyzing Performance Problems, 1970

  • Jennifer A. Wilson, Ph.D., Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana

  • Robert Krieg, La. Department of Public Safety and Corrections, Central Office.

Dibble and Krieg, NIC/TDN