We believe distinct and unique learning solutions can have a powerful performance impact when properly designed, applied and reinforced. From a skills perspective, the practice of identifying a problem and then, coming up with a customized solution to solve it is what allows an individual and an organization to grow and prosper.
The purpose of conducting a thorough training needs assessment is to provide detailed answers to three underlying questions which help to align leaders, the target audience and their managers:
1) What are the critical few factors which are holding back the individual, team or organization?
2) Where are the biggest gaps and priorities?
3) What should people do differently to improve performance?
In order to help you find an answer to these questions, here are 4 key considerations every learning and development professional should consider as part of a training needs assessment.
Determine the Underlying Cause
According to Robert A. Humphrey, “An undefined problem has an infinite number of solutions.” Before offering a potential learning solution to a skills, behavior, attitude or performance problem, you should always determine the root cause. We often find that a training needs assessment is either unnecessary or that it uncovers a strategy, culture, process or technology issue that training alone will not solve.
Pinpoint Skill Gaps
From a design perspective, a training needs assessment should be customized to your unique situation, be outcome-based, not opinion-based and compare skills to actual performance to guide development and coaching strategies.
The key to identifying skill gaps is to ensure that you compare current skills with the desired skills that matter most for your specific performance objectives. Not all skills are created equal. Make sure that you identify the skill gaps in the moments of truth that matter most.
Create Relevant Workshops
This is where most organizations go wrong. In order to ensure training workshops remain relevant and meaningful to the target audience, all training should build on current knowledge and skills with a focus toward what matters most.
Training programs should not treat all participants the same or cover areas which are not directly relevant to on-the-job success. We believe training should be highly relevant to three key stakeholders (1) The Target Audience, (2) Their Bosses, and (3) The Executive Team. We call this 3×3 Relevance – without it learning leaders often struggle to get initiatives off the ground or fully implemented.
Provide Individual Development Plans
Individual Development Plans answer the question “What can I do about it?” Done right, they are customized to help inform individual performance coaching sessions that enable employees to focus their energy on the areas that matter most personally and professionally.