Conducting a Needs Assessment This module consists of three 50-minute class sessions
Think About It Your sales director complains that her representatives are not making their monthly quotas. She is convinced they need more sales training to address this issue and asks you to design something by the end of the week. What would you do?
Learning Objectives Describe the role of a training needs assessment to address performance issues. Discuss the reasons to complete a training needs assessment. Describe the three steps to conduct a training needs assessment: organization, person/learner, and task analysis.
Learning Objectives Describe the methods available to collect needs assessment data. Design a needs assessment plan based on a performance issue.
A Short Primer on Assessing Performance Issues How do you determine the exact cause of the sales representatives’ failure to meet their sales quota and whether training is the answer? Process: Conduct a performance analysis; desired vs. actual employee performance. What is the difference in current vs. desired performance? Conduct a training needs assessment (TNA) to determine if training is the most appropriate intervention. How can the performance gap most effectively be eliminated?
What Is a Training Needs Assessment (TNA)? A TNA is the process to determine whether training to address a performance gap is necessary. Training might be appropriate when the performance issue is a “can’t do” issue: Poor performance (resulting from a knowledge or skill deficiency). Lack of basic skills (reading, writing, technology, math skills). Legislation or policies requiring new knowledge or skills. New technology. A customer request for new products or services. Higher performance standards. New jobs.
When Is Training NOT the Best Intervention? Training is not the best intervention when the performance issue is a result of: Recruiting, selection or compensation problems. Policies and procedures issues. A lack of coaching and feedback. Insufficient tools, equipment or resources. Physical setting problems. A lack of motivation (job-person fit; person-org fit); a “won’t do” issue.
Role of TNA in the Training Process A TNA is the first step in the training process model. TNA assessment involves: Organization analysis. Task analysis. Person/learner analysis.
Three Types of TNA Analyses Organizational Analysis To align training with business strategy and to ensure there are resources and managerial support for training. Task Analysis To identify the important work-related tasks and knowledge, skills, behaviors, abilities (KSBAs); determine if the content and activities are consistent with trainee on-the-job experience; and to develop measurable and relevant content, objectives and methods. Person Analysis To ensure that trainees have the basic skills, motivation, prerequisite skills or confidence.
Class 1 – Summary and Activity Needs assessment assures that training is the most appropriate intervention to address a performance problem. The first activity will measure your knowledge of the key terms and theories reviewed in this class session. In our next class, we will focus on the three steps to conduct a training needs assessment.
Class 2 - Introduction Activity: A Quick Review Identify three learning points from our previous class of identifying performance issues and the role of needs assessment in the training process model. Pair off with another student and share your ideas. We will discuss these as a class.
Think About It Recall a training experience where you thought the content to be mismatched to the tasks you actually performed on the job. How did this mismatch influence your ability to learn in the training program? To successfully use your knowledge and skills on the job?
Organization Analysis An Organization Analysis involves determining the: Appropriateness of training given the organization’s strategy. Resources (financial and development) available for training and transfer after training. Support by managers and peers for training and transfer. Gather data mainly from senior and mid-level managers. Why? Is there a reason this TNA step should be accomplished first?
Task Analysis Task Analysis involves: Identifying the important work-related tasks and knowledge, skills, behaviors and abilities (KSBAs) that must be emphasized in training. Data sources: Subject matter experts (SMEs), managers, exemplary employees.
Task Analysis Process The task analysis process involves: Selecting the job(s) to be analyzed. Developing a list of tasks performed (from an interview or survey of exemplary employees). Mining data sources: Ask SMEs, managers and/or exemplary employees to validate tasks: Frequency: How frequent is the task completed? Importance: How important is this task to the overall work? Difficulty: How difficult is this task? Identify KSBAs that should be trained to address the gap.
Person/Learner Analysis The person/learner analysis involves: Determining whether performance deficiencies result from a lack of knowledge, skill, behavior or ability (a training issue) or from a motivational or work design problem. Identifying who needs the training; who has a KSBA deficiency. Determining readiness for training: basic skills, motivation, self-efficacy. Data sources include learners, managers and document reviews (personnel records, prior training records, or testing).
Data for a Person/Learner Analysis Person: Is the person cognitively and/or physically able to complete the task? Does the person believe in their ability to complete the task (i.e., self efficacy)? Barriers: Does the person perceive any constraints to performing the task correctly? Are the constraints physical or managerial? Performance expectations: Does the person understand the level of performance expected? Consequences: What consequences exist to correct an incorrect task demonstration? Feedback: Are people receiving timely and accurate feedback about their performance?
Quick Review: Think-Pair-Share We’ve just explored the three areas in a TNA. Let’s review before moving to the methods used to collect TNA data. Consider the following superlatives and answer each concerning the content we just covered: A key point that was most surprising. A key point that helped me understand needs assessment. A key point that was most useful. Be prepared to share with the class.
TNA Data-Gathering Methods Observation Questionnaire Focus Groups Interviews Document Review
Pros and Cons of TNA Methods Observation: Pro Con Questionnaire Pro Con Interviews Pro Con
Pros and Cons of TNA Methods Observation Pro: Generates data relevant to work environment and minimizes work interruptions. Con: Requires a skilled observer. Employees’ behavior may be affected by being observed. In addition, it is time consuming. Questionnaire Pro: Inexpensive and can collect data from a umber of people. Con: Provides limited information. There are also anonymity concerns. Interviews Pro: Good at uncovering details of training needs and the trainer can explore questions that arise. Con: It is time consuming and difficult to analyze. To succeed, need a skilled interviewer.
Pros and Cons of TNA Methods (Cont’d) Focus Groups: Pro Con Document Review Pro Con
Pros and Cons of TNA Methods (Cont’d) Focus Group: Pro: Useful with complex or controversial issues that one person may be unable or unwilling to explore. Con: Time consuming to organize; status or position differences may limit participation. Document Review Pro: Good source of information on procedure; objective. Con: May not be available, accessible, or valid; technical language might require SMEs to explain.
Class 2 Summary Conducting a TNA requires gathering data at the organization, task and person/learner level. Each level includes specific questions, data sources and collection methods. In our final session, we will review case questions you will answer after reading the case for homework. You will also design a needs assessment plan for your organization.
Activity #2: Homework Read the mini-case (Activity 2). Please answer the associated case questions and be prepared to discuss them in our next class session.
Class 3 Now that you’ve had a chance to explore a needs assessment process in the case study, we will discus your reflections on the case and then design your own needs assessment plan.
Activity #2 Homework - Case Review Review your case study responses. In groups of three, review your answers. Discuss any differences in member responses and come to a consensus on an answer. Be prepared to share your responses with the class in a general discussion.
Challenges of TNA Time constraints can limit the length and detail obtained from needs assessment. What should you do if you lack the time to conduct a TNA? Lack of management support : The scope of the needs assessment depends on the size of the performance issue. Starting over each time. However, you can anticipate training needs if you are attuned to: Business problems. Technological developments. Other issues facing the organization.
TNA Review When to conduct a TNA. When training is the appropriate intervention. The three main analyses included in a TNA. Data sources and collection methods used. Challenges to conducting a TNA.
Activity #3: Design a TNA Using a current performance issue in your workplace, create a needs assessment plan that describes the specific assessment process and methods used to collect data. Individually or in small groups of 3-5, be prepared to discuss the: Performance issue. Specific process used. Methods you will use to collect necessary needs assessment data.
Review and Closing Direction: How will you use your new knowledge? Gas: What resources or support do you need? Luggage: What new knowledge will you take with you? Exhaust: What are you leaving behind?