Conducting a Training Needs Analysis
By Strategic HR Inc.
In my current position, I need to carry out a training "needs analysis" for the employees in the office as well as for the field staff, but there are no formal job descriptions or appraisals to follow. How do I even start, let alone accomplish, this massive project successfully?
The fact that no performance appraisals or job descriptions are in place certainly makes your assignment more complicated. However, there are other sources you can turn to for your needs analysis:
- Check to see if supervisors have made critical incident reports. That is, have written notes as desk files regarding employees who have either done outstanding work on an assignment or had a problem with an assignment or customer. Critical incident reports aren't official performance evaluations, but they could be helpful to point out areas of weakness that need improvement.
- Do you have any employee exit interview data? If exit interviews have been conducted, the notes from the interviews could provide some valuable data about training needs, particularly for supervisory staff.
- Have employee opinion surveys been conducted? These survey results might shed some light on training needs for both employees and supervisory staff.
- Consider conducting one-on-one or group meetings with supervisors to ask them directly what training needs they believe exist. They will probably identify training they'd like for themselves as well as their direct reports.
- Consider conducting employee focus groups and ask them directly what they perceive as possible training needs. They may have a different perspective than their supervisors about what skills, knowledge, and abilities should become a focal point.
- Read through your file of customer comments and complaints (those obtained either in writing or via a customer hotline). If you review those comments, you'll likely find a pattern with regard to training needs, such as needing more effective customer service or better telephone skills.
- Evaluate whether your office has any new processes, systems, or technology. These additions or changes to daily operations will likely result in training needs. For instance, if you've recently acquired – or plan to acquire – new software, you'll want to schedule training on that software for end users.
While the task of conducting a proper needs analysis may be daunting considering the lack of performance appraisals and job descriptions, rest assured that by following the above steps you will be ready to deliver a thorough and useful analysis.
Strategic Human Resources, Inc., is a national full-service HR management firm based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Its president and founder, Robin Throckmorton, can be reached at Robin@strategichrinc.com.