Needs Assessment: Deciding if Training is the Right Solution.
"I suppose it is tempting to handle anything as if it were a nail, if the only tool you have is a hammer," once said Abraham Maslow, one of the pioneers in the field of psychology and training. Therefore, the job of trainers is to build up their toolboxes so that they can react with more than one hammer. When doing a little research, also known as the needs review, trainers will decide what resources they need.
Often the proper tool is a hammer. The best tool to use while a nail is being raised is a hammer. For example, when the IT department implements a new software system, a series of training classes may be required. After discussing the purpose of the software (a new e-mail program) with the IT staff, who the audience is (everybody at the company) and what they want the audience to do (use this e-mail program), training is possibly the answer. From this point, an overview of the training needs would further help the training department determine the appropriate forms of training, the level of training and the skills each group requires. This is the classic situation of "hammer meets nail," and it is an acceptable use of the experience.
Unfortunately, if the training toolbox is not loaded with other materials, when it is not necessary, the hammer is used and it may not have a positive impact, or it may even harm the project. Take, for example, a scenario where the Sales Manager goes to the Training Manager and asks for sales system training. He tells the training manager that the salesmen will not use the sales system and may have forgotten how to do so. Unless the training manager follows this rationale without carrying out a needs review, she will destroy her reputation as a trusted business partner with the inadequate or wasteful use of training to solve a problem she was never intended to solve.
Furthermore, if the training manager has other resources in the toolbox and does an examination of needs, she may find out why the sales program is not being used. There could be many reasons including expectations of performance, resources, incentives, ability, motives, knowledge or skills. It could be because the directives of the leaders aren't specific on when or how the salespeople will use the sales system (performance expectations). The salespeople cannot have enough time to use the sales (resources) program. We may be punished for not using the advertising program (incentives) or not using it properly. Perhaps the salesmen are not in the right positions (capacity). Perhaps they are not interested in using the advertising method (motifs). Or the salespeople may not know how to use the sales system, as suggested by the sales manager (knowledge and skills). Such factors may be a mix. If the real reasons are discovered that the sales program is not being used correctly, the training manager can consult with the sales manager to provide the right solution or solutions to solve the issue.
One of a training manager's essential duties is to help the company assess what's going on, where the human performance is now, where the stakeholders want the worker's performance to be and how the employees' performance can be enhanced to the business' advantage. Workers are best prepared to do their work when this cycle occurs. The training manager is considered a valued business partner, the sales manager is happy with the results, the business needs are met and customers are served. This is just a win-win.
Some Ideas for Conducting Needs Assessment:
You know the feeling when your work falls flat and doesn't meet your learners ' needs? As participants look at their phones or sigh with restlessness you can sense stress in the room rising. When you've been through this train wreck you 're not alone! It can happen for several reasons, but one of the main culprits is when the trainee does not understand the challenges of the participants, the dynamics between team members and their leader, and the ideal state of the team. You are unlikely to find a successful solution without a comprehensive needs evaluation that uncovers the current situation and ultimate objective of the company.
To build and produce an impactful training plan, there are several easy ways to achieve a complete 360-view of your client's situation. The trick is to do an in-depth study of needs. Here are some tips.
1. Gather Information from Multiple Sources.
A leader or human resource partner can often come to the L&D professional with a training request. His insight into the situation is possibly partial or total. Your role is to examine all of the underlying facts, particularly because the requesting leader may be the source of the problem unknowingly. Working with stakeholders to minimize a mistake, include team members, review data on participation or attrition, and collect other available tools. You will achieve a complete understanding of the circumstances by gathering a variety of information from various sources.
2. Be Consistent with Questions.
To make sure you are collecting correct information, ask every person the same questions. The smallest language change could lead to different people interpreting the problem in contrasting ways, giving you inaccurate data. Be mindful of the delivery of questions and be strategic too. Do not use double-barred questions, be clear on what you are asking and do not ask two different ways of asking the same question. That is key to consistency!
3. Be Clear on What the Ideal State Is.
Where is the gap between the ideal state and the current one? How to fill that gap in training? Right now, you don't have to know all the answers; let the experts paint the picture, and you can draw conclusions based on that. Make sure you spend a lot of time on these questions so you and the client have a clear understanding of what it looks like to be successful. You are navigating without a diagram, without the ideal state.
4. Don’t Rush into A Solution.
Establish from the beginning that the training may not be the right solution, and explain why. As leaders and business associates make demands, performance managers and trainers may get stuck into the role of order-taker. Do not jump into a training approach until you participate in an overview of the needs. The root cause could be as simple as unclear expectations and inefficient resource utilization. Education isn't always the response to these problems, but an examination of good needs will decide which path to take.
5. Choose the Best Method for Collecting Data.
Consider the factors that play a role in selecting the best data collection method from your sources: climate, individuals involved, industry, timeline, cost, geographic location, etc. Keeping these considerations in mind, select from among the various ways in which data can be creatively gathered, including focus groups, one-on-one interviews, surveys, live polling and shadowing workers. This approach to decision making helps you paint a complete picture. You could be looking for the wrong problem by using the right data collection techniques.