Training Needs Analysis (TNA)

Even in the corporate world where everything seems static, business practices are continually being improved and policies revised. Briefings and training programs are conducted regularly to keep employees and management, stay abreast with these new developments. Before the Human Resource Department (HR) can perform them, they first need to determine the needs of the organization, competencies required in the field, areas to be improved, changes to be implemented, its effects to business operations or if any training is needed at all. This article will discuss the components and methods of the training needs analysis.

Before starting with the assessment, the HR or the Training Department must take into consideration the following:

-Is there a need for training (a new development in the respective industry, new policies and performance issues are just some of the reasons to hold training programs)
-Can the organization afford it (training costs money and disruptions to business operations as venues are chosen, manuals and kits are created and participating employees needing to leave their duties)
-Feedback from management and employees (do they have any concerns or issues that can be discussed during the training)
-Goals of the Organization ( what the company would want to achieve in a specific period).

The type of training needs assessment and analysis to be performed by the HR based on the Goals and Target of the entire organization viz the current standing of the organization. The goal, therefore of TNA is to identify the gap so that the right intervention must be executed.

Below is a list of Assessments the HR can do:

1. Organizational Analysis – this focuses on the “bigger picture”: the organization’s goals and plans. It aims to answer if current strategies and processes are enough to achieve them and if not, then what needs to be improved and how it is to be done. It sets the tone that training is required in order to deal with issues affecting the overall health of the organization.
2. Employee Analysis – It aims to answer the existing work knowledge and learning styles of the employees so prepare on the technicalities of the training such as how the training will be done, what appropriate methods and materials will be used, etc.
3.Work/Task Analysis – this looks at the work that each member of the organization must perform and the requirements to do so successfully. It aims to answer three questions – What needs to be done? Who does it? How it should be done? This method allows HR to formulate a training program relevant to the participants’ responsibilities.
4. Performance Analysis – usually done regularly as it tackles work performance. Employee evaluations are checked and feedback is requested from employees and management to determine which strengths to be maintained and areas for improvement to be resolved. Training must be designed to ensure continued improvement.
5. Content Analysis – this is done to see if current processes, policies, and output are aligned with the goals of the organization. Compliance with government and labor regulations are also checked. An SME (a subject matter expert), can be either an experienced employee or manager, often helps the HR with this so that the training does not give false information or contradict well-established and verified information in the field.
6. Training Suitability Analysis – determines whether training is needed or if a briefing and memorandum might suffice. There are concerns and issues, after all, which can be quickly resolved by conversation, meetings, or dissemination of relevant information.
7. Cost-Benefit Analysis – since training will cost both time and money, HR should see if the expenses to be incurred in conducting it be worth it for the organization. The cost should be proportional to what needs to be discussed, the number of participants and must prove valuable to the organization. A plan must be then set in place for the participants to retain the information they’ve learned or the issues mitigated once training is concluded.

The various analyses mentioned above can be performed via the following options –

Benchmarking – is the organization on par with the standards set in its respective industry. To avoid complications, HR may preferably look at public information regarding its competitors to see which policies and processes can work for the organization.
Business reviews – how the clients, peers, and even the community and government know the organization.
Consultations – the organization can contact experts or peruse works written by them to determine strengths (and how to maintain them) and weaknesses (and how to improve upon or mitigate them) as well as possible opportunities and threats.
Evaluation reports – useful for performance analysis as HR will be able to see in what areas employees are excelling in or experiencing difficulties, and perhaps need some guidance or training
Focus groups (meetings) – key personnel are gathered to talk about issues and possible solutions or anything that warrants an open discussion. Often done when planning for topics to be discussed during training.
Interviews – employees and management can be asked for feedback regarding the organization, usually done in private or one-on-one conversation.
Questionnaires and surveys – employees and management can be requested to answer them if interviews or meetings are not possible (or the HR wants to uphold anonymity). Usually, provide the most honest of feedback as the respondents are not under pressure from colleagues as compared to answering an interview or being in a meeting.
Related literature – other than looking at the works of experts, HR can also research how current issues were resolved by other organizations or how a similar training was conducted.
Records – the HR can take a look at the files to determine (and maybe predict) trends and to see issues that the organization continually deals with. This helps in formulating a training plan that can mitigate those issues, leverage strengths and weather unfavorable situations.
Work samples – ideal for advertising and creative organizations as HR can take a look at them to determine if the works are on par with existing standards and policies.

Once the HR department has determined all of the above and the organization committed to holding future training, the needs assessment can then be conducted with the following steps:

1. Analyze the situation – determine if the needs of the organization can be achieved with current processes as well as improvements. This can be done by appraisals, SWOT (strengths-weaknesses-opportunities-threats) analysis and other means mentioned above. Afterward, check if the deficits can be dealt with through training (or will briefing do), if they are reoccurring issues and how the changes will affect business operations and preferably benefit the organization.

2. Prioritize matters – training can only help with so much to focus on the more pressing issues to ensure that resources and time invested in it count. To rank their importance, HR can use the following criteria (in a matter of urgency):
-Is it a matter of government or organization policy (such as workplace safety, sanitation, compensation, and benefits)?
-Is it costing the organization money and reputation if left unresolved (such as a scandal or questionable business practices)?
-Does it involve the organization’s clients or the rest of the population (such as customer complaints and operations possibly disrupt the daily lives of the local community)?
-Does management or employees consider it an issue (such as internal conflicts, performance issues, and employee development)?

3. Determine causes and opportunities – once the matters to be discussed in training are decided, it is time to investigate why and how they became issues in the first place. Facilities and workstations can be inspected, employees can be monitored and government agencies and clients can be consulted if they have concerns.

4. Find a solution and leverage – look for solutions that can deal with issues or maintain beneficial practices to the organization that will be introduced during training. Think of incentives as well for management and employees to stick with the lessons they’ll be learning once training is over.

Some final notes to round things up:

1. During the Organizational Analysis, determine the needs of the organization and the goals for the training as well as the resources that can and will be committed for it. This will help with planning the scope and size of the training.
2. When doing a work/task analysis, do not just look at job descriptions and requirements but do take time observing employees doing their work. See what is being done, how frequently it’s done, competencies needed, difficulty and relevance of the task. This will help determine the potential gap between good and underperforming employees. Afterward, use cognitive task analysis by forming a workflow of tasks and formulate a training plan around it, on how to bridge the gap between the excellent and underperforming employees and for novices to keep up with the experts.
3. To form a complete picture when doing performance analysis, take into consideration as well of the factors that affect performance such as work schedules, attendance, turnovers (hirings, resignations, and terminations), commendations and complaints.
4. Lastly, keep a checklist of all the information you’ve gathered from the assessment and analysis. Check them from time to time to see if there have been improvements.

With the training needs analysis completed, the HR can then focus on making the framework, modules, and other materials needed for the training. Changes and improvements are, but organizations should focus their time and resources on leveraging their strengths and mitigating their weaknesses.

Below is a guide for possible topics for the training:

Adaptability – can the organization adapt to changes in the field and quickly adopt new processes and technologies
Career Development – how can employees improve their skills and gain new ones
Communication – can each member of the organization communicate to one another effectively and is relevant correspondence and decisions reaching the concerned person on time
Conflict Resolution – how does the organization handle issues between its members
Contingency Measures – how does the organization deal with risk, emergencies and unexpected situations
Customer Service – how can the members of the organization establish rapport with clients and persuade them to continue supporting the former’s products and services as well as how to maintain a good reputation
Decision-making – how can the decision-making skills of those with authority within the organization and its employees be improved so that they may come up with the best possible conclusion in the conduct of their work
Efficiency – how to achieve maximum productivity with minimum expense
Finance – how is the money of the organization being spent and where it should be spent
Goal Setting – aims to improve decision-makers’ capabilities to set objectives aligned with the needs of the organization as well as for employees in regards to the completion of their tasks
Industry Developments – processes and technologies used by competitors that can be utilized by the organization to improve its operations and services
Initiative – are the employees given enough leeway to decide how to go about their work or is it to be determined by the management and can the former do their jobs with minimal to no supervision
Interpersonal Skills – how to improve the communication and social skills of the members of the organization
Leadership – in what areas can the management of the organization improved as well as fostering leadership and management skills to the next generation
Management – not to be confused with the previous entry, this deals how operations are being handled and how resources are being utilized for the benefit of the organization
Policies – did the government or regulating bodies issue new rules for the industry or did management revise or added policies to deal with specific issues or as a guide for doing one’s work
Problem-solving – can members of the organization easily, efficiently and quickly deal with problems in their work
Resource management – deals with the allocation of the organization’s limited resources and how to utilize them to the fullest as well as avoiding waste
Results-driven – members of the organization must always focus on its goals and work towards it the best they can
Teamwork – a sense of camaraderie and cooperation must be fostered among members of the organization so they could operate like a “well-oiled machine.”
Technology – how can members of the organization utilize the tools provided to them more effectively and efficiently as well learn to use new ones relevant to their field
Work knowledge – do members of the organization know their respective tasks and can perform them well.

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