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A Quick Guide to Training Needs Assessments

2/21/2017 8:20:39 AM

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Quick Guide to Training Needs Assessments

When productivity is down your first thought may be “we need training.” Training may not be the solution. That’s why training needs assessments are important. Here is a quick guide to assessing your needs before implementing a training program.

1. Identify if you have a business need for training

Not all problems are solved by training. Before you invest any time or money into implementing a training program, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the training needed to fill a specific requirement? For example, OSHA training.
  • Are procedural mistakes causing defects or production flaws?
  • Is the company rolling out new machinery, systems or software?
  • Is there a high occurrence of customer service complaints?
  • Is there a high occurrence of communication and conflict issues between employees?
  • Does management have a new mission that needs to be understood before implementation?
  • Does everyone need training? Are mistakes being made by an individual or just a small group?

Once you determine the need for training, clarify your expected outcomes. What do you want from the training? Examples include:

  • To decrease the number of defects by 15%
  • To meet state training requirements
  • To improve employee morale
  • To decrease the number of customer service complaints
  • To verify all employees can enter orders into a new software product

2. Identify any performance gaps

Every job task has specific steps and a knowledge base that is needed to perform efficiently. Employers should already have an expected level of what jobs need to be done and how long each task should take. Supervisors should be able to tell you what jobs are actually being completed and the average length of time employees are taking to complete the tasks. The difference between what is expected and what is actually being done is called the performance gap.

3. Identify the true areas of weakness

Before you implement training you should always know what the true performance gaps are. The easiest way to pinpoint problem areas is by implementing a training assessment. 

Types of assessments vary depending upon the problem area. If the problem is in production, you may want to have an expert watch and interview employees and observe strengths and weaknesses. For knowledge-based deficiencies, you could provide online or paper-based questionnaires that score your employees' skills and knowledge levels. If the problem is in customer service, you may want to include customer feedback surveys.

4. Determine training needs and priorities

Once assessments are complete, use the provided data to ensure training covers your specific needs. To do this, consider the following:

  • What skills should all employees possess to complete the job competently?
  • What skills were lacking or needed improvement?
  • What information is needed to understand the tasks that need improvement?
  • Was the entire group lacking in certain skills, or only a few?
  • Do the lacking skills affect your organization's business objectives? Is it worth including in training efforts?

5. Define the type of training to perform

Training methods are situational, and there are many ways to accomplish training needs. Simple solutions can involve an online training course, watching a video or providing a printed job aid. More complicated problems may involve bringing in a consultant to provide detailed on-the-job training for months at a time. Getting results really depends upon your business needs, the performance gap and what the organization's true expectations are.

Need help?

Selsius at Southwestern Illinois College can partner with you to provide needs analysis, skills assessments, pre-hire testing, consulting and other resources specific to your needs. For more information about Selsius and the services we provide, contact us or visit our website.