Before you jump on the training band wagon, you might want to consider performing a training needs assessment (TNA). A TNA is an activity that helps to determine if training is needed.
Why should you perform a TNA? First, a TNA will prevent you from implementing training for performance issues when those issues are not related to the employees' lack of knowledge, skills, and/or abilities (KSAs). Second, a TNA will ensure that your training program has the correct objectives, content, and methods. Third, a TNA will help you to determine if your employees have the basic skills to understand the training material(s). Fourth, a TNA that involves upper and middle management as well as experienced employees will help you gain the support you need to implement an effective training program.
A TNA has five parts:
- The reason(s) for the training. Examples of the reasons for training include new laws/regulations, poor employee performance, new products or technology, customer satisfaction, and so on.
- An organization analysis determines organizational goals, if the organization has the resources (personnel, equipment, or money) to perform the training, and if poor employee performance is caused by a gap in KSAs or a lack of motivation.
- A task analysis identifies the tasks that employees perform to do their jobs. The task analysis includes how frequently the task is performed, it's importance in performing the job well, and if the task requires previous experience or training in order to be performed well (difficulty). Also, the task analysis should include the KSAs that employees need in order to perform the task.
- A person analysis determines if employees have the basic skills needed to understand the training material and if employees understand the training's relevance to their job duties.
- The desired outcomes are basically what you expect employees to learn from the training.
The bottom line is this: by not performing a TNA, you run the risk of wasting the company's money and time on a training program that is irrelevant, unnecessary, or incomprehensible to employees.