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The Role of Needs Assessment in Training

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Post The Role of Needs Assessment in Training   Sat Aug 13, 2011 9:37 am

The process of collecting information on a certain organizational need that could be met with the aid of training is called needs assessment. The process begins with collecting information, it continues with analyzing it, and it ends with creating a training plan. It may have the purpose of correcting a performance that doesn't meet the standards or of improving performance. Needs assessment can be conducted either formally, through surveys or interviews, or informally, by asking direct questions to the client. It is the role of the needs assessment to determine whether training is the right solution to a certain deficiency. Training increases the employee's skills and knowledge; if this helps solve the performance deficiency, then training is the answer. This won't be the case with all deficiencies though, and needs assessment is important from that point of view. If there isn't a training need, then conducting training would mean wasting precious resources.

The first stage of needs assessment, that of gathering information, can be done by using the following types of analysis: why, who, how, what, and when.

* (why) The reason to conduct training is to tie the performance deficiency to a business need, while making sure that the benefits of the training are greater than the problems caused by the deficiency. This step requires a needs versus wants analysis and a feasibility one.

* (who) The appropriate people should be involved in the training, in order to solve the deficiency. To learn more about those involved in the deficiency, a target population analysis should be conducted, showing you how to capture their interest, for maximum efficiency.

* (how) A performance analysis will identify what skill deficiency should be fixed with the aid of training. This will show how the performance deficiency can be corrected.

* (what) There is always a preferred way to do a job for the best results. Conducting a task analysis will show which the best way to perform is. It is important to acknowledge if the performance standards are set by the organization or if there are any governmental regulations to consider.

* (when) A contextual analysis will decide the best time to conduct training. That time might be variable, depending on holidays, business cycles and such.

Conducting a needs assessment means investing time in coming up with the best solution for overcoming the deficiency. By learning the answers to the five basic questions (why, who, how, what, and when), you will be able to customize the content of the training course according to the specific needs of the target audience.

Some tricks to make needs assessment more efficient would be to allow the participants to fill in the surveys anonymously, which will make them more honest and willing to cooperate; to have the management send out the surveys, for an increased number of participants; to keep the survey short and appealing, so that employees don't waste their time; to set a start and end time for interview appointments, in order to obtain the most significant information in the lowest interval.
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