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How does a company conduct a training-needs analysis?

Before you begin a training program, it is important to know what training the organization needs. A training-needs analysis is an important step in determining what areas need to be addressed and in identifying the employees who need training.

A needs analysis involves collecting information to determine if a training need exists and, if so, what kind of training is required to meet this need. The analysis also should address why the need exists. If the problem identified is not attributable to worker performance, training may not be the best solution. For instance, a company might discover that its employees have received appropriate training to perform their jobs but are not motivated to do so. In this situation, it would be more appropriate for the company to reconsider its system of compensation and awards.

There are many different methods for conducting the needs analysis. Generally an organization should use as many as possible to obtain the most accurate status of training needed. 

Among the available assessment methods are the following:

  • HR records. HR records can include accident and safety reports; attendance records; grievance filings; exit interviews; performance evaluations; and other company records such as production, sales, and cost reports.
  • Individual interviews. People to consider interviewing for information on training needs include Affirmative Action officers, employment recruiters, managers, and top executives.
  • Focus groups. Unlike individual interviews, using focus groups involves simultaneously questioning a number of individuals about training needs.
  • Observations. Sources for observation include on-the-job performance, simulations of work settings, or written work samples.
  • Surveys or questionnaires. Surveys or questionnaires generally use a standardized format and can be administered by mail, phone, or hand.
  • Samples for use. Sampling is similar to surveying and focuses on a smaller, selected group.
  • Group tests. Tests can identify areas that need to be addressed, as well as employees who need training.

Each organization selects the most appropriate method, taking into account such factors as organization size, technology, organizational structure, training staff, facilities, and budget.

Once the training-needs inventory is completed, HR can then work with management to develop a training plan to address identified skill gaps or training needs.    


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