I often get calls from consultants and organizations who want me to train for them. One of the most common questions is what do I cover in a particular training module. The next thing is to send a sample module outline. Now this is a tough task. I have conducted several programs on a given module and not one has been like the previous one. The primary reason for this is that the content is always according to the needs of the specific group. And it’s hard to put together a sample module which may not match what’s in the client’s mind. I think it’s important to put into context how training needs analysis (TNA) is critical to the final success of a program.
There’s a lot of context to how training content is put together. What decision makers, sometimes, don’t understand is that they will find an outline irrelevant if that isn’t paired well with the real training needs that they have. And I believe the whole approach of getting a trainer to fit the jigsaw puzzle makes the training process a bigger conundrum. It is very hard for a trainer to deliver an effective program in isolation. So here are a few reasons why I feel TNA (Training Needs Analysis) should be the first step to any training program (and preferably the trainer should have a brief of the analysis before asked to deliver)
1. Why training: TNA helps understand the comprehensive needs across the organisation. Or even whether we even need training to meet those needs? Is there a skill gap or do we want to proactively train to groom the future leaders of the company? Is the productivity low and that’s what we are trying to address through training or do we have a new technology the use of which will help raise productivity? TNA helps figure out the exact reasons that you wish to cover through training programs.
2. What are the skill gaps: The most important reason for TNA is to find out gaps between existing and required competency levels of employees. Depending on the kind of gap, it also helps decide if training is the solution to bridge this gap. There can be different ways to find out the gap. I found a good summary of it here.
3. Does training justify the cost: The financial aspect of training is quite an important one. Training isn’t the answer to every problem and hence it is important to be judicious in spending on it. Also, do the issues you are trying to address worth spending on training for? There might be other cost effective ways to better the rate of return on the expense.
4. Helps to be clear about the outcome expected: If I don’t know where I am going, it makes no difference what route I take. Similarly, if the needs aren’t analyzed well, one wouldn’t know what to expect from a program. This further messes up the evaluation bit. It helps to list down the exact things you wish to achieve through training. The content can be built accordingly and the skills then transferred to real jobs too.
5. Determine the kind of training required: The way content will be delivered also needs to be determined keeping the needs in mind. On the job? Off the job? A one day – two day program or spread across a few months/weeks? Can the training be done in large batches or is it better to have smaller groups who can then be coached individually?
You may read further: 6 reasons to love training needs analysis
I have jotted down a short list of reasons why TNA is important. Can you think of more? Add them to the comments.