Shirley J. Caruso, Ed.D.
Organizations need to adjust to changing external as well as internal environments of the organization so that they are aligned with today’s rapidly changing world. With rapid changes in technology, demographics, and globalization comes the need for newer methods of accomplishing things within the organization. However, newer technology, processes and procedures are often difficult for employees to comprehend. This lack of comprehension can lead to difficulties in adjusting to the work environment. For this reason, it is essential that employees be trained and provided with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes (KSA) that will enable them to comprehend the new operations of the organization. Training also assists them in defining their own roles and responsibilities so that the organization is well balanced and the tasks are properly dispersed.
Training Needs Assessment Is A Process
Training needs assessment is a process that must be constructed to meet each unique situation. The need for training can arise due to a variety of circumstances. Each situation has a unique plan and goal. Training needs assessment entails an evaluation and analysis of a particular situation. It is an information based and detailed procedure. Several methodologies can be used to obtain the information to be analyzed. These methodologies include surveys, face-to-face interviews, covert and overt observation, record examination, and focus groups. Not every methodology and procedure of attaining information is appropriate in every situation. Training needs assessment is a particularly personalized procedure which is different for every circumstance.
Training Needs Assessment Has Different Characterizations
Training needs assessment has different characterizations depending on the objective of the situation. First of all, it is the evaluation of a situation to determine whether or not training will enhance the performance of an employee or employees, or close or significantly narrow a performance gap. Secondly, it is the assessment of the training results and training that takes place in order to remove the gap in the mastery and actual performance.
A Three-Step System
Training needs assessment can also be defined as a system with three steps; input, processing and output. The input is all the information that is obtained from various sources of data collection. Process is the assessment and examination of all variables and situations, and Output is the conclusion and suggestions of the next steps to be taken and completed. The next steps suggested include training, but it also might be in opposition to training. Training needs analysis does not necessarily mean that it supports training. Training is not always the best solution to the given situation. Other solutions which are more suitable may also be recommended. These include responsibility and role defining, improved communication, job rotation, clarification of job descriptions, and performance support tools. The recommendation can be a blended solution of both training and some other action.
When you wish to improve organizational performance or resolve a problem that has been observed or brought to the attention of members of an organization, a training needs assessment is warranted. The initiative behind a training needs assessment is to review the system, recognize a need, assemble an evaluation (measurement instrument) that identifies the objective, choose the intervention, and then develop content and context that will close or significantly narrow the gap between the need and the objective.