Training needs assessments are necessary to ensure the competency and efficiency of your company. Likewise, there are proper ways to implement a training needs assessment which will guarantee that your chosen tools are actually going to benefit you in specific and meaningful ways. If not appropriately conducted, companies risk the possibility of “over-training” individuals who are not necessarily in need of it and “under-training” those who do require extra guidance and preparation.
To allow you to optimize company time and resources, we have outlined a useful way to conduct an effective training needs assessment.
1. Ask the right questions. Ensure that your analysis answers the appropriate questions for you. First, you need to ask yourself why you are holding the assessment and where new training tools need to be implemented. You should understand, in advance, the associated cost of the assessment and how you will run the analysis.
2. Consider the size of your company. The size of your company will determine how you will assess your employees’ training needs. Holding one-to-one focus groups will, of course, require a smaller company. If you are a large company working with your employees in person to discuss and identify their training needs, create smaller individual groups. Otherwise, surveys and other forms of data collection may be more appropriate.
3. Understand what you’re hoping to achieve. Make sure that you and those you are training are fully aware of the desired outcome that should come from the needs assessment. You must be able to answer the question, “What will this do for our company?” The ultimate goal and how it will be measured needs to be clear in order to demonstrate if and how the training worked.
4. Be sure that your employees know what they need to do and are able to do it. It’s not enough to simply state your desired outcome and assume that employees will automatically fulfill it. You must identify which behaviors are associated with the desired business outcome and create a plan outlining how the employees can fulfill that. Typically, this might mean gathering employees together and having them identify the skills they deem most important for the desired outcome. Creating a survey is also an option. Ultimately, you are collecting data on what your employees’ training needs are. Make sure employees feel as though their desired training needs were represented and that you have compiled the most important requirements based upon what the majority calls for.
5. Identify the most efficient competencies to train. Once you have collected enough data regarding your employees’ training needs, it’s time to identify which of those areas require the most focus. Some professional competencies simply require more specialized hiring, so those would not be efficient areas in which to train already existing employees.
6. Determine what skills and competencies your employees both possess and lack. It’s important to determine which skills your employees already have and those they still need to master. This can be done through tests or evaluations. Supervisors can also observe and rate a small group. If you choose to utilize an exam or assessment, be sure it is designed by a professional so that the test is actually recording the measures necessary for your company to fully function. Then, determine where performance is lacking and construct a plan based on these findings.
7. Develop a proper course of action. Determining exactly how you are going to implement your training is vital. Consulting with a professional who can determine the best course of action for your particular workforce may be beneficial. Is it best to provide a mentoring service and on the job training, or is classroom or book-based learning more appropriate for your staff? Determine how your team would most likely retain the material you need them to learn. Of course, part of this is also establishing the most cost-effective way to implement the training.
8. Make sure your employees have the support needed to implement the training and achieve desired outcomes. In addition to ensuring that your employees know that their training needs are heard, it is also important to consult them throughout the implementation of the new training methods. Be sure to continuously meet with them and include their input during brainstorming sessions. Discuss not only their training needs, but also how to optimally implement the trainings. Then, allow them the space to meet with managers and seek support if they need it.
While there are various ways to run and implement a training needs assessment based on company size, goals, and pre-existing competencies, there are specific steps you can take to ensure that you are implementing the plan that is best for your company.
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