How to Conduct a

Training Needs Analysis

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What is a Training Needs Analysis?

A Training Needs Analysis is a structured process through which an organisation will be guided to determine what training will bring about the desired business results, and what those courses should contain. It will typically be conducted by a senior training consultant, who will look at a number of key areas in order to reach an accurate assessment of the current situation, and future actions, to achieve the organisation's goal.

Typically, a TNA will look at the following areas:

  • Organisational needs
  • Current skill level of all participants
  • Company culture

...and an output will typically include the following:

  • High-level training needs
  • Detailed specification for each course or training module
  • Most suitable training format
  • Guidance on how to get buy-in from participants
  • Suggested follow-up methods to ensure the training has an impact on job performance

Why do we need to conduct a Training Needs Analysis?

Failure to conduct a comprehensive TNA can ultimately lead to wasted training expenditure - i.e. training is completed but never implemented, or is unsuitable either for the participants or the business.

How often does training fail?

Opinions are divided on just how often training programmes fail to deliver the intended results. The Wall Street Journal reports that 90% of learning can be forgotten within the first year after training takes place. This is pretty shocking when we consider how much is invested in training and development programmes globally. Older, but perhaps more scientific, research by renowned psychologist and educator, Hermann Ebbinghaus suggests that we forget 77% of what we learn within 6 days of learning it, but at after that point, our retention stabilises. Even taking this better-case scenario, a £10,000 training investment brings you only £2,300 of benefit. That's the equivalent of buying a full bottle of wine, and only drinking one standard glass.

What should I do about this?

Conduct a Training Needs Analysis! You can hire a consultant to do this for you (we're very experienced at Navanter...) or you conduct your own internal TNA with an experienced L&D or HR professional, in combination with key business stakeholders. Should you decide to follow the DIY route, this is a strong process to follow:

  1. Clarify the business goal
  2. What is the organisational strategy you need to achieve? Start here to ensure all training is fully aligned to achieving this goal - after all, there's no point in training if it doesn't drive the organisation forwards.

  3. Understand what prompted the desire for training
  4. As well as the strategy, it's important to understand what compelling event happened which set people thinking about a need for training in the first place. Has something gone wrong which needs fixing? Are results or behaviours below the standard you need? Is there a known skills gap amongst employees? By understanding this, you can ensure the training meets short-term needs as well as the company strategy.

  5. Clarify intended outcomes
  6. Flesh out a picture of what the organisation will be like after a successful training programme. What skills will people have? What knowledge will they have gained? How will they be behaving? What levels of confidence and motivation will you see? What will the tangible business results be? These questions ensure a training programme is designed to work towards this future state.

  7. Work backwards from this Utopia
  8. Once you have a clear picture of the "To-Be" state, consider what knowledge, attitudes, skills and behaviours you will need to give employees to achieve this. For example, if your future state includes all Customer Service teams upselling on every call, they'll need the knowledge to understand what's appropriate to upsell, the attitude to want to do it, the skills to ask the right questions, and the behaviour of actually asking these questions. With that in mind, the training programme needs to give participants all these things.

  9. Interview or assess each person's current competencies
  10. Once you have a list of competencies a training programme will bring, you need to know where people currently are in relation to those - you don't want to be training people in skills they already have, because they'll disengage with the training almost immediately. Obtaining this knowledge requires one-to-one interviews with all participants and their line managers, as well as possible an assessment, depending on the situation. And of course, you can't just ask people what they know, because people tend to inflate their own skills when quizzed. You need to have a solid questioning structure to get to people's true level.

  11. Consider the best training format
  12. To an extent, this will depend on the output from step 5, but other aspects come into play here, such as staff location, technical ability if considering online options, and company culture. Most learning & development professionals agree that these days, a blended learning approach is best, as it appeals to most types of participant, and can aid retention. However, this isn't a given and options should certainly be evaluated.

  13. Plan reinforcement
  14. As we've seen, 77% of learning is forgotten within 6 days. However, reinforcement can dramatically increase that figure and bring better training ROI. Reinforcement can take many forms, from simply going over content again, to getting participants to present what they've learnt to each other, to internal or external coaching. At the more creative end of the scale, simulations can be created to allow trainees to use their new skills in a safe environment in order to fully integrate their skills into the workplace.
Once these steps have been completed, the training programme can be designed, implemented and reinforced within the organisation to achieve the desired business results.

To learn more about conducting a Training Needs Analysis, or to engage Navanter to do this for you, contact us and we'll be happy to talk through some options.