Identification of training needs is the stepping stone in the appropriate management training system on which the entire edifice of training programme is built.
To make the training, development, and delivery easier, one has to have detailed knowledge about the requirements of the organization. The process must be focused, goal directed, and tuned with the achievement of business needs in a cost-effective way.
The basic aim of training is to induce a suitable change in the individual concerned. It can be useful in improving the transformation process that takes place in the organization in terms of processing of inputs to produce outputs.
The methods of training need analysis can be studied under the following heads:- 1. Organization Analysis 2. Job Analysis 3. Person Analysis 4. Task Analysis 5. Individual Analysis.
Some of the other techniques of training need analysis include:- 1. SWOT Analysis 2. Meeting Managers 3. Questionnaires 4. Review of Company Goals 5. Focus Groups 6. Records and Report Studies 7. Records and Report Studies 8. HR Audit Reports.
Training Need Analysis: Meaning, Methods, Process, Techniques, SWOT Analysis and Tools
Training Need Analysis – With Elements, Analysis Types and Methods
Instructional design logically should begin with a needs assessment, the process of evaluating the organization, individual employees, and employees’ tasks to determine what kinds of training, if any, are necessary.
As this definition indicates, the needs assessment answers questions in three broad areas:
1. Organisation- What is the context in which training will occur?
2. Person- Who needs training?
3. Task- What subjects should the training cover?
The answers to these questions provide the basis for planning an effective training program.
A variety of conditions may prompt an organization to conduct a needs assessment. Management may observe that some employees lack basic skills or are performing poorly. Decisions to produce new products, apply new technology, or design new jobs should prompt a needs assessment because these changes tend to require new skills. The decision to conduct a needs assessment also may be prompted by outside forces, such as customer requests or legal requirements.
The outcome of the needs assessment is a set of decisions about how to address the issues that prompted the needs assessment. These decisions do not necessarily include a training program, because some issues should be resolved through methods other than training.
For example, suppose a company uses delivery trucks to transport anesthetic gases to medical facilities, and a driver of one of these trucks mistakenly hooks up the supply line of a mild anesthetic from the truck to the hospital’s oxygen system, contaminating the hospital’s oxygen supply. This performance problem prompts a needs assessment.
Whether or not the hospital decides to provide more training will depend partly on the reasons the driver erred. The driver may have hooked up the supply lines incorrectly because of a lack of knowledge about the appropriate line hookup, anger over a request for a pay raise being denied, or mislabeled valves for connecting the supply lines.
Out of these three possibilities, only the lack of knowledge can be corrected through training. Other outcomes of a needs assessment might include plans for better rewards to improve motivation, better hiring decisions, and better safety precautions.
The possibilities for action include offering existing training programs to more employees; buying or developing new training programs; and improving existing training programs.
Before we consider the available training options, let’s examine the elements of the needs assessment in more detail:
Usually, the needs assessment begins with the organization analysis. This is a process for determining the appropriateness of training by evaluating the characteristics of the organization. The organization analysis looks at training needs in light of the organization’s strategy, resources available for training, and management’s support for training activities.
Training needs will vary depending on whether the organization’s strategy is based on growing or shrinking its personnel, whether it is seeking to serve a broad customer base or focusing on the specific needs of a narrow market segment, and various other strategic scenarios.
An organization that concentrates on serving a niche market may need to continually update its workforce on a specialized skills set. A company that is cutting costs with a downsizing strategy may need to train employees who will be laid off in job search skills. The employees who remain following the downsizing may need cross-training so that they can handle a wider variety of responsibilities.
Anyone planning a training program must consider whether the organization has the budget, time, and expertise for training. For example, if the company is installing computer based manufacturing equipment in one of its plants, it can ensure that it has the necessary computer literate employees in one of three ways.
If it has the technical experts on its staff, they can train the employees affected by the change. Or the company may use testing to determine which of its employees are already computer literate and then replace or reassign employees who lack the necessary skills. The third choice is to purchase training from an outside individual or organization.
Even if training fits the organization’s strategy and budget, it can be viable only if the organization is willing to support the investment in training. Managers increase the success of training when they support it through such actions as helping trainees see how they can use their newly learned knowledge, skills, and behaviors on the job.
Conversely, the managers will be most likely to support training if the people planning it can show that it will solve a significant problem or result in a significant improvement, relative to its cost. Managers appreciate training proposals with specific goals, timetables, budgets, and methods for measuring success.
Following the organizational assessment, needs assessment turns to the remaining areas of analysis- person and task. The person analysis is a process for determining individuals’ needs and readiness for training.
It involves answering several questions:
a. Do performance deficiencies result from a lack of knowledge, skill, or ability? (If so, training is appropriate; if not, other solutions are more relevant.)
b. Who needs training?
c. Are these employees ready for training?
The answers to these questions help the manager identify whether training is appropriate and which employees need training. In certain situations, such as the introduction of a new technology or service, all employees may need training. However, when needs assessment is conducted in response to a performance problem, training is not always the best solution.
The person analysis is therefore critical when training is considered in response to a performance problem. In assessing the need for training, the manager should identify all the variables that can influence performance.
The primary variables are the person’s ability and skills, his or her attitudes and motivation, the organization’s input (including clear directions, necessary resources, and freedom from interference and distractions), performance feedback (including praise and performance standards), and positive consequences to motivate good performance.
Of these variables, only ability and skills can be affected by training. Therefore, before planning a training program, it is important to be sure that any performance problem results from a deficiency in knowledge and skills. Otherwise, training dollars will be wasted, because the training is unlikely to have much effect on performance.
The person analysis also should determine whether employees are ready to undergo training. In other words, the employees to receive training not only should require additional knowledge and skill, but must be willing and able to learn.
The third area of needs assessment is task analysis, the process of identifying the tasks, knowledge, skills, and behaviors that training should emphasize. Usually, task analysis is conducted along with person analysis. Understanding shortcomings in performance usually requires knowledge about the tasks and work environment as well as the employee.
To carry out the task analysis, the HR professional looks at the conditions in which tasks are performed. These conditions include the equipment and environment of the job, time constraints (for example, deadlines), safety considerations, and performance standards. These observations form the basis for a description of work activities, or the tasks required by the person’s job.
For a selected job, the analyst interviews employees and their supervisors to prepare a list of tasks performed in that job. Then the analyst validates the list by showing it to employees, supervisors, and other subject-matter experts and asking them to complete a questionnaire about the importance, frequency, and difficulty of the tasks. For each task listed, the subject-matter expert uses the scales to rate the task’s importance, frequency, and difficulty.
The information from the questionnaires is the basis for determining which tasks will be the focus of the training. The person or committee conducting the needs assessment must decide what levels of importance, frequency, and difficulty signal a need for training.
Logically, training is most needed for tasks that are important, frequent, and at least moderately difficult. For each of these tasks, the analysts must identify the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to perform the task. This information usually comes from interviews with subject matter experts, such as employees who currently hold the job.
Identifying Training Needs:
The basic aim of training is to induce a suitable change in the individual concerned. It can be useful in improving the transformation process that takes place in the organization in terms of processing of inputs to produce outputs. Therefore, training needs have to be related both in terms of the organization’s demands and that of individuals.
For this purpose, three types of analyses should be undertaken:
1. Organization analysis,
2. Job analysis, and
3. Person analysis
1. Organization Analysis:
Organization analysis is the first factor for identifying training needs. It is a systematic effort to understand where training effort needs to be emphasized in the organization. It involves a detailed analysis of the organizational objectives, organization structure, human resources, and future plans. An in-depth analysis of these factors would facilitate an understanding of deficiencies that need to be rectified by training.
2. Job Analysis:
Job analysis involves a detailed examination of a job, its various operations, and the conditions under which it has to be performed. For identifying training needs, the following aspects of a job should be analyzed: job duties and responsibilities, standard of job performance, and comparison of actual performance with standard performance.
In case of deviation between actual performance and standard performance, those parts of the job which are creating problems may be identified, consequently, the training needed to overcome these problems.
3. Person Analysis:
The focus of person analysis is on the individual employee, his abilities, skills, and the inputs required for job performance, or individual growth and development in terms of career paths. Person analysis helps to identify whether the individual employee requires training and, if so, what kind of training. Clues to training needs can come from an analysis of individual’s or a group’s typical behaviour.
Major sources of information for person analysis may be observation at the work place, interviews with his superior and peers, personal records, performance appraisal, various tests, etc. These sources provide clue about the difference between the existing skills and attitudes of employees and that he should possess. Training is required to overcome the difference between these two.
Training Need Analysis – Organizational and Task Analysis
Industrial training was initially started when the first employee was inducted on the job. Methodical training was introduced to the industries there after, the new employee’s knowledge and skills are also taken into consideration to improve the standard of work of employees. Since the fast moving changes in the technology of the industrial field made the employees to pay more attention to “refresher courses”, a retraining for its existing work force.
Providing a suitable training programme for the employees under beginners’ category or experience is essential to have a proper analysis of the individual’s aptitude and also the performance standard. It should match with the needs of the job to be performed.
The main object of the training programme is to coordinate the present performance ability of the trainee and the performance desired. The success of the training programme is correctly identified the qualities, the acumen of training and organisational needs dependent on the specification of the training objectives.
This is a process by which relevant information or features of the organisation such as training needs against the background of organisational objectives and strategies are judged. In short a comprehensive analysis of organisational structure, objectives, process of planning decision making, organisational culture, future objectives and human resources required to be developed and established.
The analysis should aim at correctly spotting out deficiencies and drawbacks like weak approach on important matters etc., so as to enable minimise them. Added to this analysis of an organisation, external and internal environment need to be studied adequately. The internal climate of social interaction speaks about the inter personnel cohesiveness at the work place.
External environment consists the union activities illness of personnel, turnover, accidents, absenteeism and like things. All these provide important informalities for taking care of these aspects by management’s supportive attitudes to help cure the weakness within and outside system.
For the essential requirement of organisational objectives, the following points be adhered as principles:
1. Is man-power adequate to fulfil the organisational objectives?
2. Do they possess the necessary skills and knowledge to accomplish the performance up to the required standard?
3. Does the existing organisational climate provide a satisfactory environment for achieving task and objectives?
One can adopt a number of following ways to arrive at a proper conclusion:
i) Observing and listening to the employees’ grievances.
ii) Enquiring the supervisor about redressal of grievances.
iii) Solving other related problems requiring quick relief.
iv) Assessing the employees’ performance
v) Inculcate the feeling of goodwill and image of the enterprise amongst employees.
vi) Occasionally revise the rules and procedure as the time demands.
vii) Analyse the data so collected and accordingly advise the training needs in the field of attitude and ‘Skills’ required to be built up among the work force of an enterprise.
Task analysis indicates a thorough examination of the job to be performed after completion of training.
The following are a few guidelines:
i) Regular and methodical collection of information would give details of the job that is to be carried out.
ii) This process helps in setting the standards of performance for different jobs.
iii) Meaningful verification of existing job methods of performance.
iv) Innovative methods to be adopted to achieve knowledge, skills, abilities and other standards prescribed for each job.
Task analysis need to undergo a detailed examination of jobs, their components and different operation techniques to be carried out. Here focus is on “task” rather than on the individual. The object is that which must bring out some concrete ideas for the training needs for task performance. This can derive certain clear indicators with regards to skills, knowledge and also attitude to be developed in employees. Man Analysis
The main factor under consideration of man analysis is the “individual employee”. Here the individual objects his skills, knowledge and attitude are vital for job performance that can lead to his growth and development in view of career planning. Human nature, as a whole, is extremely unpredictable.
It is not having any definite say between performance and an actual performance this can only be predicted by highly specialised supervising staff since the individual training needs and standards which indicate that employees are expected to attain after training.
Actual performance can be assessed by indicators as stated below:
i) Individuals performance data
ii) Observing employee at the work place
iii) Examination and revision of job schedules
iv) Assessment of supervisors
v) Attitude surveys
vi) Job knowledge tests
vii) Psychological tests.
Adopting any test methods above can bring about reliable data on actual performance against any employee can be compared with his performance.
The main reason for the comparison is to make up the gap between actual and desired levels by appropriate training inputs.
Training Areas Identified by Trainers:
While choosing the trainers adequate care need to be taken, since the success of the training programme depends on person who undergoes the training.
a) He must have good conversational ability.
b) He must possess excellent ability to communicate his views in writing
c) He should be able to manage the work of others
d) Innovative and inspiring ability to enable the trainees to better achievements during his supervision
e) Each organisation should develop a pool of such talented persons and also train them adequately.
f) Supervisors must understand the strong points and weak points of the trainees, work capabilities and improve over the weak points through the training programme according to the needs of the trainees.
g) Identification of the training areas a supervisor to have constant interaction of the trainees and observe them their performance. If same trainees are not up to the mark in their performance they have to be safeguarded form the main group and give them special coaching and detail them for refresher courses as the case may be.
Training Need Analysis – with SWOT Analysis
In order to evaluate and analytically needs and importance of training, there are several aspects to consider the requisites some suitable factors to identify the needs and significance of training. There is a need to induce a suitable change in the perfection of individual skill and organisational performance. There are various ways and means for identifying the training needs of employees.
The aspects to identifying these requirements may be summed up:
1. In any organisation the task analysis entails a depth study of a job within a specified circumstance. It must be known about job charts, job requirements, job process, job analysis, job specification and different requirements to perform the job;
2. Individual analysis is important aspect to identify the training requirement. Within the purview of career planning the skill, abilities, efficiency, physical fitness and different other aspects are develop the identification of training needs;
3. The plans, targets, procedures and developmental aspects of organisational development are also have some decisional part to identify the training needs;
4. The different information concerning of work place like working conditions, health and safety measures, personal records, production performance and environmental factors are also have the basic parameters towards training needs;
5. The methods, techniques, process and visions of performance appraisal have becomes some sort of those aspects to identify the training needs in any organisation;
6. The problems, limitations, challenging aspects are also have some ground level criteria’s to make the identification of training needs.
There are many ways in which organisations can be analysed and described. One well-known method is PESTLE analysis, which is a way of examining the many different external factors (sometimes just risks) that affect an organisation.
The acronym PESTLE stands for the following:
i. Political- The current and potential influences from political pressures, such as local or national government or EU decisions.
ii. Economic- The impact of the local, national and world economy – including interest rates, inflation and unemployment.
iii. Social- The ways in which changes in society affect the organisation. This can include fads and fashions, demographic changes such as age or ethnicity profile and lifestyle changes.
v. Legal- The effect of national, European and world legislation and its interpretation in the courts.
vi. Environmental- Local, national and global environmental issues.
PESTLE analysis is usually conducted in a group – often with the use of a whiteboard or similar, it can be a first step towards looking at the changes necessary to cope with the impact of the external factors. Many issues will be thrown up, particularly when the environment itself is changing rapidly. Some of these issues will require a contribution from the training function.
Note that you may sometimes find a slightly shorter version of this technique, leaving out ‘environmental’ and combining ‘political’ with ‘legal’ – this can be abbreviated to PEST, STEP or PETS.
i. Political- There is the real threat of terrorist attacks on air travel which would affect consumer confidence.
iii. Social- Many people are buying properties overseas and will wish to visit them regularly. People are increasingly travelling abroad for short breaks as well as main holidays.
iv. Technological- The proportion of customers booking on-line is currently 40 per cent but is likely to rise. A failure of the online system could be very damaging.
v. Legal- Forthcoming EU legislation may increase the compensation payments due in the event of cancellation.
Another Technique is SWOT Analysis:
Again, these are usually identified in a group situation. The actions needed to build on strengths, capitalise on opportunities and minimise threats and weaknesses are then identified. Training will usually play an important role in these actions.
a. No-2 brand in this market sector.
b. Strong customer loyalty to the brand
c. Further product improvements due for launch within next three months will offer real competitive advantages
a. Brand not very appealing to youth (under 25 years) market
b. The production process is complex and we have a long lead time (five months) to change the specification
a. Government legislation about to be introduced will require competitors to increase their costs to comply
b. New materials have been offered to us which could give us a unique selling point.
a. Competitors are moving to cheaper production facilities in the Far East.
b. The increasing compensation culture means that any product defects could be costly.
Training Need Analysis – Techniques and Tools for Identifying Training Needs
Identification of training needs is the stepping stone in the appropriate management training system on which the entire edifice of training programme is built.
To make the training, development, and delivery easier, one has to have detailed knowledge about the requirements of the organization. The process must be focused, goal directed, and tuned with the achievement of business needs in a cost-effective way. Analysing the training needs provides a focus and direction for the investment that an organization must make to develop its people.
Training need assessment helps to:
1. Pinpoint if training will make a difference in productivity and the bottom line,
2. Decide what specific training each employee needs and what will improve their job performance, and
3. Differentiate between the need for training and organizational issues.
There are many different techniques used for collecting data that needs to go into a training module.
Several basic training needs assessment techniques include meeting managers, questionnaires, review of company goals, focus group, records and report studies, and HR audit reports.
i. Meeting Managers:
The trainer can meet the management to inquire about the achievement of business goals and involvement of the supervisors with the planning of projects and the future of the company. Managers will communicate where their employee’s current abilities lie, and what is needed to get them to the next level for new projects on the horizon.
The trainer is required to design a questionnaire and administer that to the employees, and to the immediate supervisors, to be aware of the shortcomings of an employee. Consultation with persons in key positions, and/or with specific knowledge will help in decision-making.
iii. Review of Company Goals:
A brief review of the company’s past and where they are headed for in the future may also reveal valuable information for training sessions. A comparison should be made of what employees are currently doing, and what will be expected of them as the company continues to grow and change.
iv. Focus Groups:
You can also meet the employees to discuss what difficulties they may be facing in their day-to-day activities, and what would make their job easier and more efficient. Remember to keep them focused on what they need rather than on what they want. You should discuss with the line managers about the recorded points.
v. Records and Report Studies:
You can get valuable information from various records, for example, performance appraisal reports, performance review reports, HR audit reports, gap analysis records, and the like.
vi. HR Audit Reports:
These reports (a) examine and pinpoint the strengths and weaknesses related to HR areas and skills, and competencies to enable an organization to achieve its long-term and short- terms goals, (b) increase the effectiveness of the design and implementation of human resource policies, planning, and programmes, and (c) help human resource planners develop and update employment and programme plans. Thus, you can assess the training needs referring to the audit reports.
There are certain other tools too that can be used for identifying training needs.
Some of these are as follows:
a. Analysis of activity – List the activities required in manufacturing a product or offering service or part thereof, in a logical sequence, and then determine what new competency, knowledge, or skill is required to successfully accomplish the product or service. This analysis also helps to find out necessary modification of present knowledge or skill.
b. Analysis of the problems – If any task is performed without any problem or the problem remains hidden, then this analysis is not called for. But in case of emergence of any problem, this analysis is done to identify the root cause behind the problem and to ascertain the knowledge, skill, or both, in addition to the insights required.
c. Analysis of behaviour – There are some potential employees who might behave differently at times. Analysis of these typical behaviours can help the management to be aware of all kinds of behaviours and their corrective action involving training.
d. Analysis of an organization – Organizational diagnostics and analysis of organizational weaknesses provides clues to identify individual and group training needs.
e. Appraisal of performance – Analysis of performance through formal performance appraisal or informal performance review helps determine whether someone lacks something, be it additional knowledge, skill, or understanding colleagues or the situation. These features could be included in the training sessions.
f. Brainstorming – The unique technique of brainstorming is widely used in total quality management and many other disciplines. A group of homogeneous people from the work area meets at regular intervals to generate new ideas around a specific issue of interest. The issue may be with regard to solving a problem or for developing any system or procedure.
Using brainstorming rules, which removes inhibitions; people are able to think more freely and move into new areas of thought and create numerous new thought-provoking ideas and solutions. The participants spell out ideas as they occur to them and also build on the ideas raised by others. One contributes the idea only when his turn comes in a systematic brainstorming session.
All the ideas are noted down and are not criticized during the ‘idea collection’ stage. Only when the brainstorming session is over, the ideas are evaluated. Brainstorming helps to identify training needs from the answers to the ‘how to’ questions.
g. Buzzing – This refers to interacting with the seniors, peers, and junior colleagues on ‘what additional areas of knowledge do we need to handle the work better?’
h. Card sort – Statements or potential training needs are first written on cards, which are given to the participating members, whose ideas are sought. They arrange the cards in order of importance.
i. Checklist – A whole job, process, programme, or area of responsibility is broken down into detailed parts or activities and arranged in logical sequence. Each person likely to be engaged in the job, checks the list to identify the additional inputs (knowledge or skill) that he/she needs to successfully accomplish the work.
j. Comparison – This involves comparing what an individual is doing and what else he/she is being asked to do.
k. Conference – This helps in decision-making on training needs identification.
l. Consultants – If the task is critical and not so familiar, then an external consultant is engaged to identify the training needs.
m. Counselling – It refers to discussions between a training practitioner and the person seeking guidance. A counselor listens attentively to what one says, works with him to define his goals with respect to his values and culture, appreciates the thoughts, feelings and worries about a situation, and helps to gain insight into how to act, think, and feel.
He teaches, shows, and helps one to express emotions in one’s own way and work out solutions to problems, and guides and supports the person towards his needs. Most importantly, he uses a variety of different techniques to help one to explore what is important and to become empowered to act in ways that are in ones best interest.
n. In-basket – Managers are facing problems every day. The in-basket method is used to test the manager’s ability to handle the problems. The problems come to his ‘inbox’ from various sources. The inbox may be electronic, say, intranet, LAN, WAN, or through e-mail.
Patra (2009) mentions the data source recommended and the corresponding training need implication.
Usually, organizations are well equipped with a definite structure to identify their training needs, but in some cases, they may miss a particular factor while finalizing the training curriculum. To overcome such problems, it is helpful for the organization to have a checklist suited as per their structure to be able to choose the best method for training.
One can group these checkpoints in categories such as human-related, machine-related, method- related, material-related, and measurement-related, in order to make decisions on the type of training or workshop to be organized.
Training Need Analysis– Top 3 Methods
Regardless of the specific methods used to evaluate needs, any sincere assessment effort must address their key areas:
1. The organisation,
2. The job task, and
3. The individual.
Method # 1. Organisational Analysis:
It looks at the proposed training within the context of the rest of the organisation. A prime consideration is whether or not the proposed training will be compatible with the organisational strategy, goals and culture, and whether employees are likely to transfer the skills they learn in training to their actual jobs.
If training is to be provided to a large number of employees throughout the organisation, analysis should know which units should receive. The training first answers which units need it most. Alternatively, one may decide to begin with units known to be especially receptive to training in order to develop a record of success and a positive image for the training programme among others in the organisation.
The organisation’s future plans must also be considered. For instance, a training specialist would not want to plan a massive training effort for a product process that top management plans to discontinue in a year or two. Finally, the availability of trainer’s facilities, financial resources and the priorities of competing training programmes must be considered as part of the organisational analysis.
Method # 2. Task Analysis:
The duties and responsibilities of the job, together with the knowledge, skills and abilities needed to perform them, are the focus of the second stage of needs analysis called task analysis.
The purpose of this step is to verify that task is important and employees should be trained for the same and also to develop in-depth information about the task knowledge and procedures that should be taught. The trainer will need to call on subject matter experts such as – superiors and high performing employees to generate this information.
Method # 3. Individual Analysis:
The final level of analysis looks at the individual to be trained. The individual analysis attempts to determine which employees should receive training and what their current levels of skill and knowledge are.
The trainer may single out individuals on the basis of their past performance or select an entire work group or all incumbents with a specific job title. Then the trainer assesses, or at least estimates, the skill and knowledge levels of the chosen trainees, so that the training is neither too simple nor too complex.