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A training analysis is conducted ultimately to identify what areas of knowledge or behaviors that training needs to accomplish with learners. The analysis considers what results the organization needs from the learner, what knowledge and skills the learner presently has and usually concludes with identifying what knowledge and skills the learner must gain (the "performance gap").
Usually this phase also includes identifying when training should occur and who should attend as learners. Ideally, criteria are established for the final evaluation of training to conclude if training goals were met or not.
Depending on the resources and needs of the organization, a training analysis can range from a very detailed inventory of skills to a general review of performance results. The more complete the training analysis, the more likely that the employee's training will ultimately contribute results to the organization.
Note that employees can require training for a variety of reasons, which usually fall into two categories:
1. Training to fill a "performance gap" as identified during the performance management process
2. Training to fill a "growth gap", that is, to be promoted or be able to fill another open position in the organization.
What do you think are the most common concerns for organizations after a needs analysis is completed? Why?
When front-end analysis is short-changed or completely dismissed, training designers become the equivalent of a quack — randomly applying training solutions without first understanding what’s needed. While we all expect doctors to ask lots of questions, examine symptoms, and base their diagnosis and recommendations on these data, in the business world we readily shun this critical step the moment we encounter resistance from clients, SMEs, or managers who would rather fast-forward to results.
I’ve found that most resistance to needs assessment falls into three categories: concerns about time, a lack of understanding about the process and the benefits, and mis-guided assumptions.
“We don’t have time for it.”
Source of resistance:Crazy deadlines can drive this response, but I find this objection most often comes from clients or SMEs who just don’t see the long-term benefits of needs analysis.
How to address it: Educate clients, SMEs, and managers by explaining the cost of NOT doing a needs analysis. By spending a little bit of time up front to investigate the causes of a performance gap, organizations may save more time, money, and resources in the long run by ensuring that training reallyaddresses needs.
For some great ideas on how to accelerate the needs analysis process without sacrificing quality, check out Allison Rossett’s book, First Things Fast.
“You’ve already been given the information.”
Source of resistance: Clients, SMEs, or managers may feel like your request for more information isn’t worth the effort to retrieve it, or they may assume that you can move forward with information that’s already surfaced from previous projects.
How to address it: Even if everyone believes they’ve provided you with all the necessary data, take the time to verify the specifics with them and scrub the data from a training perspective. Most likely the information will lack details about learner characteristics that could influence your design choices or workplace barriers that may impact performance.
“You don’t need to analyze anything since you already know the business.”
Source of resistance: Don’t ask me how it happens, but somehow when we end up on the training team everyone assumes that we’re “experts.” This belief that our institutional or industry experience is somehow a substitute for current data is a dangerous assumption which puts YOU on the hot seat when training fails to deliver the expected results.
How to address it: It’s tempting (heck, even a little bit flattering!) to be given permission to skip the needs analysis step because of your vast array of knowledge. Particularly if you’ve been with the company for years and have strong knowledge of the business, it’s easy to assume that you know it all – inside and out. Unfortunately, no matter how “connected” you think you are, processes and perspectives change as you grow and the last thing you want is for training you’ve developed to come across as out-of-touch with the needs of the business. Don’t do yourself or your learners a disservice by failing to verify that your knowledge is valid and that your perceptions are still relevant.
Headed to the Learning Solutions 2011 conference in Orlando this week? If so, and you enjoyed this post, consider attending Sahana Chattopadhyay’s ID zone session: Balancing SME Speak with Learner Needs when Designing . It sounds like she’s got some really great insights and tips for working with SMEs.
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