The Training Needs Analysis (TNA) is the foundation of any training program. It is the main tool to measure the success of the training program and define learning objectives for individuals.
At Fudgelearn we have a large number of TNA experts experienced in various forms of Training Needs Analysis. We would be happy to discuss with you the “as is” and the “to be” states, and the correct method of delivering the TNA. Following the TNA, we provide a full report along with recommendations to move forward.
What is Training Needs Analysis?
- Most important 1st step in designing a training solution
- The analysis which allows one to define the difference between what is known, what is required to be known and the training deliverables which will be required to bridge the gap.
- The TNA can be general in as much s it looks at training requirements across the organisation or it can be project focused looking at specific training needs related to a given initiative or project.
The training needs analysis can be carried out at 3 levels - the corporate, the group or the individual.
Corporate / Group
At the corporate level, the TNA is all about group impacts of the initiative and the behavioural changes required to make this initiative a success. The results tend towards training overview, specific project-based learning, end-user training as well as business process training.
At this level, we are looking at the individual specific training needs. This tends to be more task-oriented as in what does the individual need to be able to do in order to carry out his task in the post-change environment, relating to business change requirements.
There are various methodologies designed to carry out a TNA with their various pros and cons.
In an automated TNA the candidate is asked to fill out a questionnaire and the analysis of the answers forms the basis of the recommended training program. The obvious advantage of this method is that it is consistent as well as objective and, therefore, can be administered to large groups of employees simultaneously.
As opposed to the automated method, this method relies on face-to-face interviews to gather information. While this method has the obvious advantage of one-on-one communication to determine the delegate’s training requirements, it does have a few notable disadvantages as well. Firstly, individual interviews take time, for small populations this may not be too much of a problem but for larger ones it could be severely limiting. Secondly, there is the problem of consistency, with the interviews being more flexible and open to interpretation than the questionnaire there is a natural difference between the information which can be obtained from a “good” interview and that obtained from a “bad” one.
The next question to answer is whether to carry the TNA out of the full learner population or rather on a smaller sample population. Obviously, the ideal would be to interview every learner but larger populations make this impossible and taking a representative sample is the only way forward. This is, once again, where the questionnaire approach could prove useful as it is asynchronous allowing a large number of delegates to be questioned at the same time. The obvious advantage of questioning the full population is that you get the raw data from every potential delegate making the individual training plans that much more accurate but very often this is unnecessary as training requirements tend to be common within groups allowing enough focus to develop a best fit training program at the group level.
Another way to avoid having to interview entire populations is to interview the learners managers. The effectiveness of this is dependent on how well the managers know their teams as well as how well they know the subject matter being trained. The other downside to this is the possible belief among the delegates that the interview with their manager is some sort of a performance appraisal with an extensive training requirement being identified being seen as a negative judgement on the learner’s job performance. This would add a level of stress to the learning process which should not necessarily be seen as being positive.
The objective TNA requires that the delegates be given an actual test in order to ascertain their skill and knowledge levels thereby highlighting any gaps as training requirements. In some cases unused certification questions can be used for this purpose but, if these aren’t available whole new tests would have to be devised. This can be a very time consuming and resource intensive activity as it requires people with the requisite knowledge to develop the test materials. In addition testing a candidates theoretical knowledge of what is to be done is a lot easier than testing his actual ability to do it as this will require test systems as well as testers who can monitor their activities on the systems.
The problem with a subjective TNA is that it relies on the delegate’s own opinion of their skill level. As a first point you are asking people to rate their skills in topics they do not know very much about secondly it has been shown that people with low skill levels routinely rate themselves higher than what they are and thirdly the performance appraisal aspect of the analysis will tend to encourage delegates to rate themselves higher than they actually are. The end result would be a TNA which is skewed towards a more skilful workforce than is really the case.
The TNA is a vital first step in any training solution design. While the goals of the TNA are consistent across all analyses many factors come into play when designing the actual analysis meaning that there is no “correct” way to carry out a TNA, rather the best options must be selected to match the project or change being undertaken, as well as the available resources for carrying it out.
At Fudgelearn we work with our clients to design their training plans as well as delivering them in a number of formats.
To discuss how we can assist you, please get in touch or book a quick chat with our experts.