Training Needs Analysis: What's the Best Approach?
Jan Hills of consultancy HR With Guts suggests taking a more positive approach to your training needs analysis, by focusing on the outcome rather than the problem.
A training needs analysis is a way of surveying the training required and what's more, can help prioritise different areas of training that are needed by analysing the business goals and the skills required to meet those goals.
However, I have found that most training analysis focuses on what people aren't doing and what they aren't skilled at. This might seem the obvious way to approach the issue of training – identify what people cannot do, and work from there.
"If the training analysis focuses only on what people are failing to do, it means that they are only approaching the training from a 'problem' frame of mind."
Jan Hills, HR With Guts
However, if the training analysis focuses only on what people are failing to do, it means that they are only approaching the training from a 'problem' frame of mind. By conducting the training analysis in this way, the subsequent training programme can only focus on those failed areas and fill in the skill gaps. This can undoubtedly be useful, but by only focusing on existing problems, the training needs analysis fails to identify any desired future outcomes.
Focusing on the negative will result in only remedial training. By asking people what they can't do and what they are not skilled at, the individual and the team can only progress so far. This means that the training focuses on those who are perhaps not doing so well, 'catching up' with how the best of the team already performs, rather than looking to where you would like that whole team to be. Looking at the training this way means that you are always looking backward rather than forward.
By changing the focus of the training needs analysis to a positive approach, you immediately get different results that focus on what people are already doing well and how that can be developed further. Some of you may be concerned that this means that the people at the top move higher, leaving the people doing less well behind. I believe that this kind of training analysis can help to develop the whole team far further.
At HR With Guts, we use the 'success profile' as a tool to profile the most successful people within a business and to identify the working practices that they use to achieve that success. We have found in the past that every company has its strengths and areas of success, but in most cases that success isn't consistent across all areas of the business and for all people.
Our approach is to look at individuals and identify the five or six critical beliefs and working practices that make the highest achievers successful. One thing that we often find is that a number of high achievers who have taken part in the 'success profile' feel they would benefit from deeper training, so it has the double benefit of identifying how those high achievers can improve. Also those 'average' performers can be trained to adopt the successful practices of the high performers.
Training should be available for those that are already doing well, as well as those who have areas of difficulty. I find that many HR development programmes are seen as a way of fixing problems, but what they should be doing is advancing and aiding everyone to do much better. By refocusing the training in this way, you are able to develop programmes that focus on successful practices, ensure everyone adopts these practices and help those who are already top performers achieve mastery.
Structure the training
High achievers do not always know or understand what it is they do that makes them successful so by structuring the training to identify what employees are already doing well, it can be developed to expand on those successful working practices and beliefs as well as provide people with alternative good practices so they have more flexibility in their working.
"By refocusing the training needs analysis to look forward to desired outcomes, rather than only looking backwards and filling skills gaps, you can develop a training programme that can benefit the whole team."And by training people working at the top of their game, good practices will feed down to other members of the team.
So, what practical methods can you employ to make sure you invest in all of the team, including the high achievers? One easy way to begin to shift the focus of the training begins with the training analysis. When conducting interviews or surveys with senior managers to determine training needs, rather than asking: "What does this group of sales associates need to be better at?"
Change the focus of the question to: "What do your most successful people do that your average people don't?"
By refocusing the training needs analysis to look forward to desired outcomes, rather than only looking backwards and filling skills gaps, you can develop a training programme that can benefit the whole team.
For more information, please visit HR With Guts.
Categories: Organisational Development, Training Methods