Training needs analysis 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. The training need is equivalent to the mastery performance minus the actual performance (Training need=Mastery performance-Actual performance).
A training needs analysis involves four key steps:
- Identifying the goals and objectives of the organization;
- Gathering information about the knowledge, skills, and attitudes (KSA) of the employees that are currently needed will be needed in the future;
- Analyzing the information gathered; and
- Identifying the performance gaps that exist between the current situation and what is/will be required.
Identifying the Goals and Objectives of the Organization
It is important to identify the goals and objectives of the organization in order to determine which areas of the overall strategic plan are the current focus of attention. The goals and objectives the organization is attempting to accomplish should be understood by all members of the organization.
Once the goals and the objectives of the organization are clearly stated, the next step is to gather information about what needs to be accomplished, what employees need to know or to do in order that the objective is accomplished, what KSA employees already possess, and what KSA may be needed to continue or enhance the performance required to achieve the objective.
Analyzing the Information Gathered
The analysis of information gathered should answer the following questions:
- What performance gaps exist in the KSA of current employees to perform their jobs at present?
- What performance gaps exist in the KSA of current employees to perform their jobs in the future?
Training needs analysis allows for existing skills gaps relating to current job descriptions and possible skills gaps for future development. The analysis of information gathered channels into the final stage of the training needs analysis process.
Identifying the Performance Gap
A performance gap is the behavioral area not performed to mastery level when measuring task performance. Some performance gaps are quite easy to measure.
In a performance analysis of present performance, the Actual Performance (AP) is subtracted from the Mastery Performance (MP) to measure the Performance Gap (PG), or training need. This measurement, MP-AP=PG, becomes the gap that must be closed or significantly narrowed in order to achieve the objective.
Similarly, to plan for future goals and objectives, the Actual Performance (AP) and the Future Performance (FP) is determined. The difference between FP and AP is the Performance Gap (GP).
Not all performance gaps can be closed or significantly narrowed by training. Some performance gaps may be the result of problems within the workplace or other external factors. Solutions other than training which are more suitable to the situation 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.
The significance of a training needs analysis can be better understood by exploring the consequences of a nonexistent training needs analysis. A nonexistent training needs analysis can be a contributing factor to a higher percentage of workforce turnover, additional retention costs, poor employee performance, loss of business, and loss of profits.
By Shirley J. Caruso, M.A., Human Resource Development