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Training Needs Assessment

Needs assessment is performed to determine

what training will successfully address any skill
deficits. – Cornell, Technology Training Services


Why Conduct a Training Needs

• To determine what training is relevant to employees’
• To determine what training will improve
• To determine if training will make a difference
• To distinguish training needs from organizational
• To link improved job performance with the
organization’s goals and bottom line.

Indicators of training needs

 Market Analysis
 Customer Complaints

 Unsatisfactory customer survey ratings

 Missed objectives and targets

 New facilities or technology


Needs Analysis
A needs assessment is the
process of identifying
performance requirements and
the "gap" between what
performance is required and
what presently exists.

What Is a
Training Needs Assessment (TNA)?
• A TNA is the process to determine whether training to
address a performance gap is necessary.

• Training might be appropriate when the performance

issue is a “can’t do” issue:
– Poor performance (resulting from a knowledge or
skill deficiency).
– Lack of basic skills (reading, writing, technology,
math skills).
– Policies requiring new knowledge or skills.
– New technology.
– A customer request for new products or services.
– New jobs.


When Is Training NOT the Best Intervention?

• Training is not the best intervention when
the performance issue is a result of:
– Recruiting, selection or compensation
– Policies and procedures issues.
– Insufficient tools, equipment or resources.
– Physical setting problems.
– A lack of motivation (job-person fit; person-
org fit); a “won’t do” issue.

The ASK Concept

• If we follow the GAP concept, training is
simply a means to use activities to fill the
gaps of performance between the actual
results and the expected results.
• This GAP can be separated into 3 main


Assessing Training Needs

Three-step process (Goldstein, 1991)

1) Organizational Analysis
2) Task Analysis
3) Person Analysis

Organizational Analysis
• Identifies what types of training may be needed
for large segments of the organization
– New products/services
– Changes in laws or regulations
– Introduction of new technology
• Assess the organization’s objectives and gaps in
knowledge or skill that may prevent the
accomplishment of the organization’s goals.


Organizational Analysis
• Assess organizational training implications
across a variety of levels and functions within
the organization due to the introduction of new
computer hardware and software to perform
previously nonautomated tasks.
• Determine changes in management
techniques, equipment, or tools needed to
implement a new “focus on customer service.”
• Gain information on how well customer
requirements are currently being met

Assessing Training Needs

2) Task Analysis
– What are the employee characteristics
(KSAs) necessary to perform various aspects
of the job?
– What are the likely KSAs needed with the
introduction of new products and services?
– Usually based on a job analysis
– Direct training toward enhancing those KSAs
that are critical to job performance.


Job/task Analysis (continued)

If lack of performance is due to:

–Deficiency in knowledge or
–Deficiency in skill
Then training is the solution!

Job/task Analysis (continued)

• Assess workforce skills for short- and long-term
staff planning.
• Gain information obtained through analyzing critical
positions: Knowledge, skills, and abilities required for
the job.
• Level of performance required of the worker.
Products or services resulting from the work
Equipment, materials, and tools used in performing
the work. Physical or environmental conditions of the


Person Analysis
• Identifies specific individuals who lack
knowledge or skill
• Identifies if the individual has the ability
and motivation to learn
• If the individual lacks ability and/or
motivation, the organization must seek
other solutions such as reassignment or

ORGANIZATION NEEDS Job Needs Individual Needs

Occur at the highest level in Focus on what Focus on the specific
the organization where competencies knowledge, skills,
broad, cross-cutting, cross- and characteristics are abilities, and attitudes
functional guidance is required for job groups required by each
established, new directions critical to accomplishing employee. Individual
are set, and/or budget and the organizational needs should be viewed
resource decisions for mission. within the context of the
training are made. ISSUES strategic goals of the
ISSUES • Workforce trends organization in order to
• Turnover and absenteeism • Occupational forecasts ensure professional
• Customer requirements • Recruitment growth and development
• Diversity and cultural • Hiring of employees within
issues • Training and Retraining established career
• Safety record EXAMPLES paths.
• Efficiency Assess workforce skills ISSUES
• Quality for short- and long-term • Career paths
• Productivity staff planning. • Individual development
• New technology plan (IDP)


Define the problem

Describe Discrepancy




Key stages for TNA

What is the job under review and what are the
main duties? What are the high-level skills
required? To what standards are people expected
to do the job? Are they currently meeting these
Identify key people or stakeholders involved.
Consider the best means of finding out what B know
now, plus what they feel they will need to know, to
achieve A.


Key stages for TNA cont…

Analyze data, using valid systematic methods,
and match against what skills are required to find
the gaps in the present knowledge or skill – this
will identify a training need.
Present to management or relevant party with
plan of how to meet identified need.

Response to exercise
• Accidents report • Staff discipline report
• Sick leave report • Staff enquiries &
• Product quality control complaints
report • Customer complaints
• Wastage report
• Quality of product
• Efficiency report report
• Machinery out-of-
order report • Market needs & trends


A training need exists when there is a gap between what is

required of an employee to perform their work competently
and what they actually know.

Data Collection Methods

• Interviews
• Surveys/Questionnaires
• Focus Groups
• Observation
• Existing Data
• Tests


All Effective Training Begins

With Needs Assessment. The
Training Needs Survey Measures
What Skills Employees Have,
What They Need, And How To
Deliver The Right Training At The
Right Time.
– American Society Of Training And Development

Interview Method
• Face-to-face interviews allow you to explore topics in
depth, probe answers and follow up new information.
Such interviews are usually 'semi-structured', so
although you cover key areas, there is no formal list of
• Both face-to-face and telephone interviews are also
useful when you need more background information
about an area. Imagine that customer complaints have
risen and you are wondering if the call centre staff
require more training. In-depth interviews will help you
explore the reasons for the complaints, current working
practices and skill gaps


Benefits of interviews:
Not much material is required other than the observers
Inexpensive to conduct
time and the interview plan

Interviewer can clarify Watch the participants body language to determine if

questions they understood what you were asking
Variety of perspectives can Probing for understanding is possible during an
be elicited interview
Can be very useful way to
build rapport with Be open to what they have to say
Probing further when an interesting point is made
Can generate broad and deep
allows you to vary your approach and explore ideas you
data about system
had not considered
Watch the interviewee’s body language for
Interviewer can receive
understanding, interest, restlessness, etc. Tailor your
additional information in the
interview appropriately to gain the most information
form of nonverbal clues
possible while maintaining rapport

Limitations of interviews:
Not much material is required other than the
Inexpensive to conduct
observers time and the interview plan
Watch the participants body language to
Interviewer can clarify questions determine if they understood what you were
Variety of perspectives can be Probing for understanding is possible during an
elicited interview
Can be very useful way to build
rapport with Be open to what they have to say
Probing further when an interesting point is made
Can generate broad and deep data
allows you to vary your approach and explore
about system
ideas you had not considered
Watch the interviewee’s body language for
Interviewer can receive additional
understanding, interest, restlessness, etc. Tailor
information in the form of
your interview appropriately to gain the most
nonverbal clues
information possible while maintaining rapport


A focus group is an interactive exchange
between a interviewer/facilitator and a group
of people. Typically the discussion is guided
by the facilitator according to a preplanned
set of questions.
Focus groups are also useful when an in-
depth exploration of an area is needed.
Focus groups typically involve 8-10 fairly
homogenous people (e.g. with similar roles).
Information from focus groups can be used as
the starting point for a well-designed wide-
scale TNA survey.

Benefits of Focus groups

Usually only a room, interviewer’s
time, and some drinks or snacks
Builds buy-in from as many
Input can come from wide range
sectors as are represented in the
of people and perspectives
focus group
Participants usually know several
Participants may have positive
people in the same field that they
public relations impacts
talk to regularly
Can clarify different points of Group participation leads to more
view exchange
Resulting conversations give
Can really investigate root of
participants different


Focus groups limitations:

Difficult and time-consuming
Advanced planning can help with this, but additional time
to analyze, synthesize, and
for analysis must be planned as well
May represent special
Interviewer must keep the group on task
Establishing guidelines at the beginning of the section for
Participants may use as “gripe
returning to the task at hand will allow the interviewer to
stop this. Stop it as soon as it starts or it will mushroom
One participant may
Interviewer should assure that all participants speak, and
influence attitudes and
probe participants to give their own opinions
opinions of others
When the group asks to goes off the record, turn off the
Very difficult to capture all
tape. Have the tape transcribed as soon as possible after
information without taping
the meeting so that the interviewer and note takers can
remember the non-verbal communication
Not all people are
Several note takers can be used if taping is not advisable
comfortable being taped

Need to transcribe and code

Interviewer and note taker should spend time doing this
information for analysis

The value of workplace observation is that
it captures the real picture. Compared
with other data collection techniques,
observation is expensive and time
consuming and it is important that the
observer remains in the field long enough
to have observed 'normal' activity. The
observer should be experienced and
ideally a subject-matter expert.


The benefits of observation Method:

Little interruption of By being a passive observer, you can see an

work flow or group entire process in action. Additionally, you will
activity not "color" or effect the process by getting in
the middle or otherwise interrupting.

Works best with specific When observing a process with variable tasks
skill-based tasks it can be hard to figure out when a step has
been missed or a wrong decision is made.

Generates data about Observation does not mean interpreting what

actual behavior, not is seen, only reporting it.
reported behavior

The observer can follow When observing a specific skill based task the
action at different points observer can figure out when a step has been
in the system missed or a wrong decision is made.

The limitations of assessing by observation :

Observer can be There may be an inherent mistrust of the
seen as a spy observer by the participants
Requires process
and content Without context, you may not understand what
knowledge by you are observing
It can be hard to remain neutral while observing
Data can be skewed
the actions of others, especially if you witness
by observer’s biases
actions that "hit close to home."

The observer should come up with a method to

Data is not easily quantify before the observation or data
quantifiable collection begins, such as timing an activity, or
counting an activity


• Questionnaires Are A Survey Instrument
Through Which Individuals Respond To
Printed Questions.
• Questionnaires are probably the most
widely used method of conducting TNA.
As with all approaches, they offer both
benefits and limitations.

Benefits of Surveys:
Easiest to quantify the data Data easily summarized and reported

Time-effective for use with

Questionnaires can easily be sent to people through
geographically dispersed or large
mail or as part of a magazine or other media
numbers of people

Incurring some costs for a well designed survey will be

Relatively inexpensive
money well spent for reliable data

Questions can be asked in formats (multiple choice,

Data easily summarized and
ranking, etc.) that provide for easy tabulation and
Opportunity for expression
Anonymity can help provide more truthful and
without fear of embarrassment
thoughtful answers.
While there are insights to be gleaned from
Permit people time to think
spontaneous answers, thoughtful answers will usually be
about answers
less colored by emotion.

Questions can be used or Questionnaires can be compiled from a variety of

modified from other instruments materials.


Survey limitations.
Limited provision for Insert comment boxes after questions that may have
unanticipated responses unanticipated answers so that participants can list these.
In general people can express
Provide a contact name and number for participants who
themselves better orally than
want to express themselves further
in writing

Low return rates which can Introduction letter can reduce this impact. Phone calls to
skew data priority participants can increase the return rate.

Difficult to get at root causes Insert comment boxes after questions that may have
or possible solutions unanticipated answers so that participants can list these.

Follow up the survey with a phone call to ask them if they

Can be impersonal
have any other comments they would like to discuss
Questions may miss true
issues. Questions and The pilot run should help reduce this issue, additionally
answers can be interpreted comment boxes and personal follow up will help

Language or vocabulary may

Ask the editors to watch for this
be an issue

Open-ended can be easier to construct but more difficult to

quantify and interpret, Closed-ended can be more difficult to
construct but easier to interpret.
Use closed-ended if there will be 25 or more questionnaires

Ensure that responses are kept confidential

Always pilot the questionnaire to find any poorly-

worded, vague, or confusing questions, and to
assess whether the answers answer the questions


Organizational data/Existing Data

• Existing Data Mean Looking At Information Already
Gathered By The Organization.
• Existing information eg reports, work samples, historical
data, planning and budget reports, organizational
structure charts, evaluations, career development
reports that can be reviewed and analyzed.
• Relevant internal organizational data are often easily
and quickly available. Companies collect data on sales
figures, customer complaints, productivity, call-centre
call rates etc.

Benefits of Existing data:

Can be less time
No need to write and test questions, etc.
Most likely has been There might be less resistance to change
reviewed or seen by the when the data is familiar to the senior
senior management management
Makes use of already Number crunching and statistical analysis
gathered statistical data may already have been done
Easier to chart changes Existing data provides a baseline from
over time which to measure improvements
If deficiencies are noted in employee
Provides excellent reviews, reports, etc. it provides additional
evidence of problem justification for exploring training or other
solutions to fix the problem
Minimum effort or Workers do not have to be taken away from
interruption of workers their jobs for interviewing


Limitations Reviewing existing data:

Old data can provide incorrect impressions of
Can be out-of-date, e.g.,
technical capabilities when compared to similar
technology needs
May not address specific A problem may exist but current evaluation
questions processes do not reveal the problem

Statistical data may not address

Wants vs. needs
people’s perceptions of needs

Old technology, faulty equipment, and employee

Causes of problems may not
attitudes all could cause problems but may not
show up
be addressed in reports

Organizations can be hesitant

to share if results reflect poorly Organizations may show bias in their self-
on the organization. Reports reporting in order to appease stockholders or
may be adjusted or “selectively stakeholders





Reach a large number of Calling a list of stakeholders can take only a few
people in a relatively short minutes per call depending on the length of the
time survey
Relatively inexpensive (can
Survey must be well designed to assure
be done with trained
Data easy to summarize
Answers can be entered directly into a data base
and report
High level of return Reach most of the people on your list

Does not depend on

Volunteers do the reading for the participant
reading proficiency
Good for information that
Close-ended questions sequence easily
requires sequencing
Interviewers can clarify Assures understanding on the part of the
questions participant

Little provision for free
expression or unanticipated Leave space for comments on most questions

Requires substantial time and

Have your survey edited by an unbiased editor
technical skill to develop

People tend to want to get the Develop questions that will ask the same thing in a
“right” answers different way to get at the opinion

People will use opportunity to Train the interviewer how to handle this by moving to the
vent or describe their issues next question and noting their concern

The interviewer can influence

Train the interviewer to be unbiased
the respondents

People will hurry through

The interviewer should stress the participants stake and
answers without thinking about
the importance of the project in the introduction


• A test means simply an exam that
assesses knowledge or skill level.
Tests are sometimes used in TNA.
Multiple-choice tests are often quick
and easy to administer. However, the
results are only as good as your test,
and test development requires

Benefits of tests
Helps participants
When participants notice they
recognize a problem
cannot answer a question it may
or a deficiency in
point to the need for training or tools
knowledge or skills
performances can Especially on standardized tests such
be easily compared, as multiple choice tests, results can
and results are be reviewed quickly
easily quantified
Easily seen as job Many vocations require regular tests
related and assessments


Limited availability of Tests that have been field tested for reliability
validated tests for may not be available for the specific task or
specific situations skill being tested
Does it test knowledge and skills actually
Validity issues
used on job?
Language or vocabulary Use of jargon or poorly worded questions can
can be an issue skew results
People can be very
Respondents might fear poor performance on
concerned with how test
a test might be cause for disciplinary action
results will be utilized
Results can be influenced Adults sometimes resent taking tests, which
by attitudes typically have a negative connotation

Gather and Analyze Data


Never 12
Weekly 6
Daily 4

To train or not to train?

Calculate cost

Select best