The Training Needs Analysis (TNA) is not only the foundation of any learning journey but also the primary tool to define objectives and measure learning success.
Our experts have years of experience in various forms of training assessment. We would be happy to discuss with you the “as is” and the “to be” states, and the most suitable method of delivering the TNA. Once the assessment is complete, you receive a full report along with recommendations on how to move forward.
Without a doubt, TNA is the most important 1st step in designing any training solution. It helps identify what is known, what is required to be known and ultimately the training gap to bridge.
The Training Needs Analysis can be performed at different levels – the corporate, the group or the individual. The TNA can examine the training requirements of a whole organisation, or focus on needs of an initiative, a project or a group of individuals.
Levels of TNA
Corporate / Group TNA
At the corporate level, the TNA is all about the behavioural changes required to make an initiative a success. The results tend towards training overview, specific project-based learning, end-user training as well as business process training.
At this level, we are looking at the individual-specific training needs. The training assessment is more task-oriented. It tries to answer questions like – what knowledge or skills are required for the individual to carry out his/her task in the post-change environment.
Training Assessment Methodologies
There are various methodologies designed to carry out a training analysis. Each approach comes with pros and cons.
Automated TNA – questionnaires
Candidates are asked to fill out a questionnaire. The surveys are then analysed to form the basis of the recommended training programme. The apparent advantage of this approach is its speed and consistency; therefore, it can be administered to large groups of employees simultaneously. On the other side, the analysis is directly related to the quality of the questionnaire and how well it addressed the potential problems.
As opposed to the automated method, this method relies on face-to-face interviews to gather information. During a one-on-one meeting, an interviewer can ask various questions to pin-point problems and determine the person’s training requirements. This approach is very time-consuming. For small groups, this may not be too much of a problem, but for larger ones, it could be severely limiting. Secondly, there is the problem of consistency. With the interviews being more flexible and open to interpretation than the questionnaire, there is a natural difference between the information obtained from a “good” conversation and a “bad” one.
Training Analysis Scale
Full population vs individuals
The next question to answer is whether to perform the training analysis of the full learner population or rather on a smaller sample group. The ideal would be to interview every learner. Unfortunately, larger populations make this impossible and taking a representative sample is the only way forward. When dealing with a broad audience, the questionnaire approach could prove useful, allowing a large number of delegates to be questioned simultaneously. The obvious advantage of examining the full population is that we get the raw data from every potential representative making the individual training plans significantly more accurate. However, this approach is often unnecessary as training requirements are common within a group. A well-fit training program can be developed aiming at the group level rather than individual learner.
Another way to avoid examining entire populations is to interview the learners’ managers. The effectiveness of this method directly depends on how well managers know their teams and the subject matter. The other downside is the belief among the delegates that the interview with their manager is a type of performance appraisal. In this case, training requirements could be identified as a negative judgement on the learner’s job performance.
Objective vs Subjective TNA
The objective TNA requires that the delegates be given an actual test to ascertain their skill levels, thereby highlighting any existing knowledge gaps. In some cases unused certification questions can be used for this purpose but, if these aren’t available whole new tests would have to be devised. Creating a new test could be a very time consuming and resource-intensive as it requires people with an in-depth knowledge of the subject. Besides, testing a candidate’s theoretical knowledge of what is to be done is a lot easier than testing his actual ability to do it. Testing his/her practical skills will require test systems or special tools as well as testers to monitor their activities.
The problem with a subjective TNA is that it relies on the delegate’s own opinion of their skill level. As a first point, we are asking people to rate their knowledge of subjects they are not very familiar. Secondly, it has been shown that people with low skill levels routinely overrate themselves. Thirdly, the performance appraisal aspect of the analysis could encourage delegates to rate themselves higher.
TNA is a vital first step in any training solution design. There is no “correct” way to conduct a TNA; rather, the best options must be selected to match the goals, specifics of the project, internal constraints as well as the available resources and budget.
At Fudgelearn, we not only closely work with our clients to design their tailored training programmes but also deliver training in different formats.
To discuss how we can assist your training, please get in touch or book a quick chat with our experts.