Are you looking to grow or evolve your training program for the next 12 months and beyond? Before you do anything, it is critical to take the time to perform a training needs assessment (TNA) to ensure that you are spending your company’s limited training dollars wisely and meeting the overall objectives for your organization.
To help you get started, we have provided the steps you need to deliver a comprehensive view of the training needs of your organization. At the end of your assessment, you should be able to answer questions like:
- What kind of training is needed and why?
- Who needs training?
- How will the training be delivered?
- What will be the success metrics?
- How will we build the training program?
- What will be the impact on the organization?
Step 1: Identify the Goals of the Organization
An unfortunate case that I’ve seen repeated time and again at various organizations, is there are many senior leaders that just do not fully grasp the positive impact that structured, well executed training can have for their organization.
For some it is seen as a nice-to-have or a process that will occur naturally via knowledge transfer from person to person. The phrase I often hear that is almost never true is “our product/solution is so easy we don’t need training!”. This is very rarely the case, particularly for organizations that are experiencing rapid growth. Leaders typically want to focus their budgets on sales and marketing for their product with the expectation that this will be the most effective way to achieve their organizational goals.
To ensure that senior leadership supports the training program for the beginning it is essential to prove that spending the time and budget to create the program will result in positive impacts for the organization beyond the individuals receiving the training. The goals for a typical organization are set by senior leadership on an annual basis, look at those high-level goals and consider the impact the program may have with them.
Here are a few examples of organizational goals, how a great training program can help achieve them and how to measure that success:
|Organizational Goal||How Training Can Help to Achieve Goal||Measure|
|Acquire and retain SaaS customers||Effective customer training programs will directly impact customer retention.||Measure the % of users trained per customer and compare that to those that were retained vs churned.|
|Generate revenue||For profit customer learning programs contribute to revenue generation.||Track typical sales metrics like Total Revenue from Learning sold.|
|Become trusted industry experts||Create generic industry training assets and promote them to gain a community of followers. Assets can include blogs, webinars, and training courses.||Measurement will depend on the types of training assets, some examples are: track responses and/or impressions of industry specific social posts & blogs, attendance for events.|
Step 2: Conduct Interviews to Determine Learning Needs
Conducting a survey of what the entire organization needs for training allows you to focus your efforts on areas that are critical to meeting the organization’s goals. If you focus your program too narrowly, you may create a program that only meets the needs of some teams/departments which could result in duplicated effort or unmet training needs.
At the first stage of planning your training program needs, examine what your organization needs to maximize your effort, training budget and resource usage. When asking the questions, it is important that the person conducting the training needs assessment clearly understands the overall goals, short-term priorities and long-term aspirations of the organization and departments. This will allow them to target the training opportunities that will contribute the most to the overall success of the employees, the business units, and the organization.
Questions at this stage are typically broad as the aim is to determine what training is required at a high level so that you consider the whole organization and its goals rather than the needs of a specific role or team.
Training assessment questions include:
- What audiences/teams/departments require training?
- What broad skills/knowledge do you need to meet your immediate goals?
- What broad skills/knowledge do you need for your long-term goals?
- What other skills/knowledge do the audiences identified have or do not have?
- What training do you have available today?
- What are the skills/knowledge gaps from what is available today?
- What are the shortfalls of the training that is available today?
- Any professional certifications to be considered?
- What are the criteria for success for a training program?
Step 3: Identify Desired Outcomes for Roles Requiring Training
After you have identified which roles require training based on the insights gathered during the interviews in step 2 the subsequent step involves determining the desired high-level business task and/or knowledge that the role needs to gain from the training for each role.
This requires continuous engagement with subject matter experts (SMEs) who possess the necessary expertise to determine the optimal outcomes. Ideally this outcome should be expressed in a single sentence that incorporates the main business outcome required for the role – it may take some coaching with the SME to get this to a single outcome.
Suppose that, based on the interviews conducted in step 2, it was determined that onboarding for individual contributors is necessary. In this case, the high-level business outcome that training should aim to achieve is to ensure new hires understand their role expectations, know where to find information and support, and can navigate the company’s processes and systems effectively.
Continue this exercise for each role identified as needing training in step 2.
Step 4: Conduct a Job Task Analysis
The objective of conducting a job task analysis is to identify the learning objectives necessary for the training. During this stage, it is usually essential to collaborate with subject matter experts to break down the high-level outcomes into more specific job tasks. Although it may require some effort to elicit all the required job tasks, I recommend taking adequate time to ensure thoroughness, as this step forms the foundation for the subsequent efforts. However, you don’t need to get bogged down trying to ensure that the list is perfect, as you can continue to update these as you build the program.
To illustrate and building upon the previous example of onboarding for individual contributors, this stage would entail identifying specific aspects of the role expectations, such as where to seek information and support, how to navigate company processes and systems efficiently, and other relevant details. An example of a specific job task for a new hire that could be determined is: entering weekly timesheets using QuickBooks.
Continue the job task analysis for each role determined in step 2.
Step 5: Create Learning Paths
At this stage you should have all the roles that require training and the job tasks for each of those roles that they should be able to perform once they complete the training. The job tasks now need to be logically grouped into pieces of learning.
If you determined that multiple roles require training in step 2 it will be important to determine where there is overlap of the job tasks as you will want to logically group tasks into pieces of learning (courses, modules, training assets, etc.) that apply to the broadest audience possible. The goal is to create a program that will scale and can be maintained effectively.
If there are additional job tasks that logically make sense to be grouped with a set of tasks, but they don’t apply to all the roles that require that piece of learning consider adding optional modules or microlearning for just those roles that it applies to. For these optional pieces I recommend considering modalities that are easier to maintain since the audience is narrower.
Continue to group the common tasks into pieces of learning until all that remains are the unique job tasks for each role. Then finally for each role group the unique tasks into pieces of learning and put all the learning pieces into the logical order for learning to create a learning path. At the end of this process, you should have a training path for each of the roles that require training.
Of all the steps in the process this is the one that really benefits from and experience learning and development specialist.
Step 6: Report on Training Needs
Having completed steps one through five, you now have all the necessary information to report to your leadership team on the organization’s training needs. You can present a detailed training plan that has been tailored to address the identified needs. Your efforts should enable you to create a clear and graphic representation of the proposed plan. You can then work collaboratively with your leadership team to prioritize the training paths, determine the timeline for development, and devise an effective strategy for implementing and launching the program.
Creating Training Internally
For some training needs, the only option is to create your own courses. Training built in-house is just as good and as effective as professional training, if done right. The key is to take a measured, proven approach and to use professional tools.
One such tool is our LEAi which allows HR, marketing, customer success and other teams to take documents and presentations already existing in the organization and transforms them into content for all sorts of resources including internal training sessions, eLearning, videos and more.
LEAi features our clients love include:
- Course content writer – Import content from your subject matter experts (SME), like documents, presentations, webpages and wikis, and LEAi writes the learning objectives and foundational content for you in seconds.
- LearnAdvisor – This feature continuously looks for learning best practices that aren’t being followed, provides you suggestions on how to improve it, and offers to automatically change it.
- Microlearning creator – LEAi does the hard work of taking large sections of content and breaking it into smaller courses so it is easier for your learners to take and understand.
- Test question generator – LEAi automatically generates assessment questions that tests whether your learners grasp the most important aspects of your course.
- Course updater – LEAi intelligently updates changes to your courses in seconds so that you can eliminate the mundane task of updating individual courses.
If you are looking for help to conduct a training needs assessment or need to create more internal training and you need a professional tool to quickly build courses, drop us a note!