Training Needs Assessment’s Key Players

Have a question? Turn to the expert. Makes sense, right? Yet in a training needs assessment  (learning needs analysis), the expert cannot provide the whole picture.

A solid training needs assessment answers these questions:

  • What do adults need to know and do to perform a role?
  • What do they already know and do?
  • What are they doing on the job now?
  • What is the gap?
  • And is the gap a training need, a values/enforcement issue, or a combination?

The truth is that we’re all pressed for time. It is easier and faster to simply turn to the expert, get his/her answers, and move on with training design.

But what if your team only needed an hour’s worth of information from the full day of training? By trying to save time, you actually wasted wages, time, and energy.

That means that the training needs assessment process forgot someone very important. The learner!

A small group from the target audience has key information no one else has:

  • What behaviour does your supervisor encourage on the job?
  • Does your supervisor reinforce past training for new skills and knowledge? Or does s/he wink and say that the department just needed to tick off that training box?
  • Are job aids (checklists, user guides, etc.) easy to use? Does anyone use them? Why or why not? What job aids are missing?
  • What skills and knowledge do you need everyday on the job? What processes are quarterly or annual?
  • What do you already know how to do? Where could you improve?

Experts and your target learners play equal roles in the needs assessment. Experts can tell you what staff don’t know that they don’t know, and learners can show or tell you what they know and what help they need.

Ignore the urge to skip a step in a needs assessment, consult an expert, and save yourself both time and money.

1 Comment

  1. Jennifer Kennedy on July 4, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    I work with school districts, and I often find that those who arrange for trainings don’t have a huge understanding of what their teachers actually need or where they are in the process of learning our software.

    Many times, they want them to learn an advanced technique, yet they haven’t grasped the basics.

    It’s difficult though, for us to get in touch with the teachers beforehand. But, it’s definitely something that would help us tailor the training!

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