Determine Your Training Needs – A Complete Guide
Have you ever felt like you could see the potential of providing corporate training, but didn’t quite know where to start?
One of the first steps of providing corporate training is deciding what training topic you want to cover.
This is a mindful process that requires time and attention to get right.
Below is our detailed guide to conducting a needs analysis to determine what kind of training workshop you should conduct
PERFORMING A NEEDS ANALYSIS
In order to help you identify your training needs, the first thing to look at is how to perform a needs analysis. This will provide you with the answers to a few basic questions and help you to understand your audience. This research will help you develop a basic outline that can then be used to help create your training program.
A needs analysis is performed when there is a lack of knowledge, skills, or attitude that is negatively affecting a group of employees, customers, etc. It is the process of identifying and evaluating training that should be done to improve a current situation. Challenges are defined and opportunities noted; a needs analysis will help the trainer set goals and priorities and decide which method to use to deliver the message. The information gathered will become the basis of a well-delivered workshop.
The results of the research will help to answer the following questions:
- Who is the audience with the problem or need for change?
- What tasks and subtasks does an expert perform to a work process?
- What gaps exist between experts, average, and poor performers of a work process?
- How do we translate the needs into objectives to promote a positive learning outcome?
1. WHO IS THE AUDIENCE WITH THE PROBLEM OR NEED FOR CHANGE?
The first step in conducting a needs analysis is asking yourself what you know about your audience. Your audience should determine the content and approach of your training. Find out what they know; use their words and terms and better your understanding of where your trainees are at.
Understanding your audience also helps you determine what training format may be best. A group of youth interested in entrepreneurship won’t experience the same presentation as a group of senior entrepreneurs.
- What is the aim of my training?
- What do I want the audience to do after my presentation?
- What will your audience learn?
- What happens afterwards?
- What outcomes should be expected?
- What changes in the workplace should occur?
- Who will implement these changes?
These are all questions you should ask yourself when better understanding your audience. Continually referring to these questions as you build your needs analysis (and training workshop in general) will help you stay on track and focused.
2. WHAT TASKS AND SUBTASKS DOES AN EXPERT PERFORM TO A WORK PROCESS?
In order to be able to provide contextual training, you must understand the roles of your trainees. Learning the objectives of your trainees and their process for meeting them gives you the ability to list their tasks and subtasks.
For example: Consider this in the context of a call center. Although the call center reps are empowered to assist customers, several are not solving callers’ product problems. Instead, they are passing them on to the Escalation Desk, creating a bottleneck, and unhappy customers. The needs analysis identified a task called “Resolve customer complaints”. Some of its tasks/subtasks are:
- Handling a Call
- Answer call
- Listen to customer’s problem
- Express empathy for the trouble
- Open a new support ticket
- Resolve the complaint per the list of allowable resolutions
- Documenting Call Resolution
- Document the resolution in the call notes
- Close support ticket
While some of this information may be common knowledge to you, don’t assume someone else’s tasks/subtasks. Make sure you communicate with employees and let them tell you their tasks/subtasks. Getting this info directly from the source ensures you aren’t misinterpreting certain aspects of their roles and that you didn’t forget any crucial tasks that could help you better identify their needs.
3. WHAT GAPS EXIST BETWEEN EXPERTS, AVERAGE, AND POOR PERFORMERS OF A WORK PROCESS?
So, you have identified the problem and the people involved in the process where issues are arising. You have communicated with them to understand the tasks and sub-tasks involved.
Now it is time to identify the gaps. Consider the experience level of all the employees involved. Do some people have higher levels of training/expertise than others?
Note what systems are being used that may be out of date or less than efficient. Are there new systems that your team should be trained in?
Think about what employees are involved in this process but may not be communicating with each other. Is a lack of communication causing preventable mistakes or deadlines not being met?
Even better, ask the employees involved some of the following questions to also identify gaps:
- What are the department needs?
- What are some problems your department is experiencing?
- How long has this been a problem?
- What would indicate to you that the problem has been solved?
Once you have evaluated this, simply note the gaps you see in the processes that are contributing to the problem. If you are having difficulty finding these gaps, or are worried you missed something, consider explaining to a third party the process, the tasks/subtasks, and the people involved. Get them to ask you critical questions and see if they can poke any holes in it. If you can’t adequately answer certain questions or account for their critiques, those may be areas to examine for gaps.
4. HOW DO WE TRANSLATE THE NEEDS INTO OBJECTIVES TO PROMOTE A POSITIVE LEARNING OUTCOME?
Now that we have identified the gaps, we can finally set our objectives and identify our specific training needs.
How can we fill the gaps we found in your organization’s processes? Fortunately, since we have done all our prep work to identify these, the objections should be fairly clear by now. For example:
If the gaps lie in inconsistent training levels between employees, perhaps there are employees that need to receive training that others already have. Or maybe a refresher training session is required.
If the gaps lie in outdated or inefficient systems, it may be time to revamp these and give everyone updated training on the new system/policies.
If the gaps lie in a lack of communication, then soft skills training will help your employees improve their communication skills, emotional intelligence, and teamwork skills.
Translating the gaps and needs of your team into objectives will ensure better learning outcomes for your training.
One of the best parts of conducting a needs analysis is that once it is done, it has likely produced much of the supporting content required to build your training program. So, if you are hesitant to do a complete needs analysis, remember how much time it will save you later, and how much better your training will be for it.
We hope that our outline for conducting a needs analysis will help you better understand your training needs.
Posted by Katelyn Roy, Corporate Training