Separating training needs from training wants can be tough; read on to find out how to match real requirements with solutions.
Follow these top tips from Changing Perspective, an organisation that has worked with clients including Orange, Cable and Wireless and Direct Line on how to produce an effective training needs analysis.
Fiona Silberbach, managing director of Changing Perspective comments: “To make learning analysis easy, an organisation needs to establish exactly the level of performance it is looking for and then find an appropriate way of measuring the gap. If an organisation has clearly defined learning objectives, it then becomes easy to match an appropriate development measure.”
Find the right benchmark
An organisation should start by determining the ‘gap in performance’, which can be identified by establishing the standard or benchmark that it is looking to achieve. The organisation should then look at the difference between the benchmark and the actual performance, but also look for implications of employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction ratings.
Fiona Silberbach says: “Other ways of identifying the gap in performance may be through observation, self-assessment, mystery shoppers, focus groups or appraisal sessions. The idea is to pick on what will give you the most useful information, but fits closely with what is already happening in the organisation.”
Closing the skills gap
Silberbach comments: “It’s important not to jump to conclusions about what the best way of meeting the need for training might be. An organisation must be able to establish clear learning objectives to determine what areas of training need to take place in order to improve skills.”
However, according to Changing Perspective, the organisation must firstly be able to identify if it wants to improve attitudes, knowledge or skills and be able to:
- state specific role requirements against the stated job specification.
- manage performance issues in an effective manner and to organisational guidelines.
- present a favourable case for improving the motivation of their team.
- reduce the levels of sickness and absenteeism through managing work stress.
Fiona Silberbach says: “Once an organisation has clear learning objectives, it is then possible to decide what the best method of filling the gap is – whether it be training or another form of development, more tailored to an organisation, such as coaching or mentoring.”
Changing Perspective has identified three main types of objective: knowledge based, skills based, beliefs and values based.
Knowledge based objectives are easily achieved through interactive games and exercises, which are applied to situations and can be delivered during team briefings, e-based learning or distance learning. They need to be supported with formal or informal testing such as quizzes or question and answer sessions.
Skills based objectives need more interaction between a learner and a developer, which may involve one to one coaching or group interaction through a workshop or training session.
Silberbach says: “It is more likely to require a combination of these to ensure the skills are transferred into the workplace effectively. Often it’s a good idea to rehearse learned skills, so that mistakes can be made in a safe environment, where customers or employees will not suffer the consequences of the initial use of new skills.”
Beliefs and value based objectives use a combination of approaches so that the individual will have time to discuss and reflect issues to hand and can make an informed decision to change the way they look at a situation.
Silberbach says: “If the result requires tailoring to a workplace it is essential that part of the development takes part in the workplace, either through action learning, projects, coaching or mentoring. This is critical if results are going to be seen on site.
“If an organisation follows the above procedures, it is much easier to measure success as it has identified the gaps in performance and can go back at a later date to measure what has improved since.”
Measuring success with evaluation
Changing Perspective believes that there is a right and a wrong way to evaluate the training and development process and that there is a correct time to evaluate.
Silberbach says: “We worked with an organisation who attempted to measure health and safety standards within their business three months after completing a training programme. Needless to say, standards had got worse as those who had taken part in the training programme knew to report incidents that they didn’t before! It was 12 months later that the company saw the real benefit and a huge reduction in the number of accidents.”
When evaluating the success of training, use the same methods of measurement throughout and be aware of what impact on results non-training events may have. For example, anything which has not been identified before the training programme commenced.
Silberbach concludes: “An organisation must pick the right time to evaluate a training and development approach to get the correct results. Changing Perspective can also help carry out bespoke training, tailored to the culture of an organisation. For example some prefer coaching and others prefer workshops – and measure success with online assessments and morale performance indicators.
“Changing Perspective prides itself on an innovative and alternative approach to learning, which is based around how different people learn most effectively. We are completely committed to helping organisations change what they do at work to achieve a positive business result.”