Training Needs Analysis Cycle Management Essay

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Training Needs Analysis (TNA) is the first stage in the systemic training cycle and is also a process the training and human capital professionals undertake to identify any gaps in employee knowledge. The systemic training cycle comprises of the following stages: training design, training delivery, and evaluation). The basic of a basic structure for a modern effective and socially responsible training and development policy is the assessment of the gaps that exist between what the employee actually has and what they require in terms of skills, knowledge and attitudes in term of process. However, the nature and purpose of a TNA can have different meaning and perspectives depending upon the various people and organizations in the process, resulting in misunderstanding about expectations and what can be achieved.

Boy dell (1976); one of the earliest writers about TNA, proposed a systematic approach to training needs that had its origins in analyzing requirement through a method based on organizational objectives. It is important that a training policy must provide the basic system and management guide for the people who are involved with the process of designing and developing training manuals within the organization-for example whether manuals must contain the training policy; whether manuals are course-specific or job-specific or departmental specific; who is responsible for designing and whether the media formats of manuals are printed, online, etc Boydell (1976, P.4) stated that " A training need exits when the application of systematic training will serve to overcome a particular weakness. " He also argued that," The identification of training need must therefore be resolved before training itself can be usefully undertaken."

A TNA is an effective way to identify any gap between the skills a business need and those that employees have. It involves gathering information to locate areas where employees could improve the performance, Employee surveys, management observations, customer comment, company meeting and inspection can be utilized to collect this information, A TNA can assist in clarifying the objectives in training staff and this is invaluable for ensuring that money is spent on training that will enhance that achievement of the business objectives.

Bartram and Gibson (1994) stated that, "Analyzing training needs provides a focus and direction for investment on organization has to make in its people."Similarly, Bee and Bee (2003) asserted that business to close any performance gap.

To carry out a TNA, you need to:

Analyze your business goals and skills to meet these goals.

Determine whether you are changing your products or business processes and what information or training employees will need to be effective in their job.

Evaluate who you want to train and how best to reach them

Establish how staff will best accept and integrate training and their preferred learning method

Evaluate the training in place and decide what your company can and cannot provide in the way of in house training funding and time.

Assess which consultants or training provides can fill these gaps.

Take a decision on which type of training fits your needs best.

Two political considerations influence TNAs were noted by Read (1994) They are: establishing who has ownership of the TNA will indicate whether the finding are ignored or implemented and the person who actually pas for it will indicate the real client, who is normally senior management. However, this systematic approach to TNA inclines to concentrate largely on organizational perspectives. Reid and Barrington (1999) recognized these perspectives, but asserted that these needs can occasionally conflict, e.g. long-term development for an individual and lack of promotion chances may be at variance with each other.

It is important to assess kills gaps at all leers of the business. Learning and development are on-going and pro-active (Sloman, 2003). They should not have to wait for business needs and training objectives to be set before embarking on a program. Thus, individuals need to be more responsible for their own learning, rather than waiting for the organization to guide them. Seeking employee input can be particularly revealing as they are ore likely to experience the daily problems that arises when there is a skills gap. This makes them well placed to identify the skills and training they need in order to improve performance.

The Meaning of TNA for Different Groups

Potential conflicts between the organization managers and recipients about the ownership and purpose of TNA are unhelpful and counter-productive. Research was conducted among three separate groups to examine their understanding of TNA and identify similarities and differences, in order to help in resolving some of the misunderstandings.

Passenger transport managers who had been recently queried about training needs;

Training managers from other organizations and responsibility from TNA, and

Training consultants who work independently and who predominantly design and deliver training based prior TNA investigations.

Data collection involved the distribution of the different questionnaires about the purpose and process of conducting TNA to the three groups above. Most of the questions were similar across the groups with additional ones being directed to specific groups depending upon their background. Following u are individual interviews involving each of the groups.

The facts were then studied using grounded theory (a method which involves developing a theory derived from the themes emerging from the data). It can be gathered form the table that there are both commonalities and some noticeable differences expressed that business needs were a dominant focus for all groups and that this should be constantly considered throughout the systematic training cycle.

Conclusions and Recommendations

The analysis revealed a number of findings to which recommendations have been made :

Business needs emerged as the main focus of training needs analysis. These business need should be clearly communicated.

From an individual perspective, the person may wish to learn different knowledge, skills, and attitudes atc, than those prescribed by the organization. It may be advisable to consider both sets of needs.

The various people involved with the TNA process should be aware of their part in the whole process. This should involve clear communication about its purpose, the process and decisions about training will be made.

Personnel involving with TNA should be aware of the expectations arising from those who are on the receiving end of the investigation. Often, genuine concerns were raised which were ignored because there are more important priorities, but if so, this should be communicated sensitively.

A clear and transparent process will enhance trust in the process and the organization. It will also encourage those in human resource and other management positions to create a more democratic process.

Defining Training

According to Nadler (1984) :

Training is the organizational activity which aims to improve an employee's performance.

Education consists of activities designed to prepare employees for future jobs.

Development is those learning activities designed to help the individual employee grow but which are not confined to a particular job.

Nearly all companies provide training for their employees but there is a great variation in the amount of educational and developmental activities organized by firms. Training maybe defined as the attempt by an organization to change employees through the learning process so that they are able to execute their jobs as efficiently as possible. Training programmes must be designed to maximize learning. Training may or may not be conducted in a classroom. Learning can take place in a variety of situation, none of which requires a classroom.

The Benefits of Training

In general, the benefits of training outweigh its costs, even when those positive outcome cannot be evaluated in financial terms. Robert Steinbach (2004) says, "Inadequate training leads to poor performance, angry customers and high turnover - exactly the kind of problems that keep supervisors too busy to focus or training. Talk about a vicious circle!"

The advantages of effective training include :

Training increases workers' productivity

Training increases workers' job satisfaction

Training keeps workers' skills and knowledge up-to-date

Training helps to motivate workers

Training helps to increase worker productivity by improving their ability to do their current job. Learning organizations take proactive steps to retain employees' knowledge within the organization. Training is a major financial investment for the employer and reasonable returns are expected. A systemic approach to training is the best way to ensure effective training. The steps to be followed in organizing a training programme are listed below :

Identify Training Needs

Set training Objectives

Design the Training Programme

Implement the Training Programme

Evaluate the Training Programme

Before organizing a training programme, a training needs analysis should be carried out. Timothy Ho Ha Yin (2003) describe a training needs as "the gap between an actual situation and the desired situation. 'Situation' may refer to job performance, knowledge, skills, behavior or attitudes." In other word, gap analysis indentifies the difference between what is actually happening and what was planned to happen.

The training needs assessment is best conducted upfront, before training solutions are budgeted, designed and delivered. The output of the needs analysis will be a document that specifies why, why, what, who, when, where and how.

The document should contain the following questions :

Why do people need the training?

What skills need imparting?

Who needs the training?

When will they need the new skills?

Where may the training be conducted?

How may the new skills be imparted?

Thus training is needed when :

Individual workers are facing difficulties in performing their jobs satisfactorily.

New workers are hired.

New technology and procedures are introduced.

Individuals are transferred or promoted.

A major change such as a merger takes place.

In clarifying the purpose of the Training Needs Analysis (TNA), the following should be considered :

At the organization level?

At the project level for a specific project? or

At the department level for specific employees?

Your answers to these questions will decide :

Who will conduct the Training Needs Analysis (TNA)

How the Training Needs Analysis (TNA) will be conducted and

What data sources will be used

To carry out an analysis of the employee's training needs, certain steps should be followed :

Identify a performance problem

Decide whether the problem is serious enough to justify action

Identify the cause of the problem

Produce alternative solutions to the problem

Choose the best solution and implement

Training Needs Analysis (TNA) must be carried out continuously as there is no short-cut to effective training and those involved in indentifying needs may :

Require supervisors to prepare a report on the training needs of each and every worker reporting to them, especially new staff undergoing probation.

Require all workers to periodically assess their own knowledge and skills and apply to attend training in areas in which they are weak.

Require workers to evaluate the strengths and weakness of supervisors, so that appropriate training can be organized for and supervisors who are unable to effectively manage their sections well.

The focus of these involved in organizing training must be the needs of the employees and the organization. To ensure only, relevant programmes are offered, some organizations utilize a competency approach whereby a careful analysis is conducted of each job grouping in the organization to identify the competencies heeded by employees at various levels in the job concerned. An example is shown below :

Set Training Objectives

As the main aim of training is to improve employees' abilities and performance on the job, hence clear and specific objectives for each programme must be tabled. The objectives should be quantified as measurable objectives which are crucial in the evaluating process. They also act as a guideline to the trainee as what is expected of him/her. As Mager (1984) says "If you know where you are going, you have a better chance of getting there." An ideal training programme objective comprises of three parts and includes a statement of :

Terminal behavior

Standards to be achieved

Conditions of performance

Training Needs Analysis Method

Employee Performance Appraisal

During the final part of the performance appraisal discussion, each worker's manager discusses training and development needs. In general, the manager constructs an employee Performance Development Plan in collaboration with the employee being appraised. The Plan takes into consideration :

the organization's strategies and plans

agreed employee goals and targets

the employee's performance results

the employee's role description

feedback from internal/external customers and stakeholders, and

the employee's state career aspirations

Improvement Project

To carry out this successfully, the performance consultant needs to be familiar in process improvement methods and employee motivation theory and practice. Examples of improvement projects include planned and structured attempts to decrease the incidence of product defects, increase sales volume and reduce the number of customer complaints. The causes of underperformance needs to be determined through a series of structured questions. Possible causes and solutions are discussed and training solutions identified, where appropriate. When training is identified as suitable solution, we recommend a training needs analysis questionnaire (with the suitable stakeholders) which will give you the information needed to the program design phase.

An effective Training Needs Analysis questionnaire worksheet will cover at least the following areas :

Training Needs Analysis Context :

Project Sponsor

Reason for Request

Participant Roles

Organizational Objectives

Training Program Objectives

Target Population

Number of Participants





Current Job Experience

Current Performance vs Expected Performance

Language/Cultural Differences

Anticipated Attitudes

Task Description

Task Description



Performance Criteria


Underpinning Knowledge

Constructing a Training Calendar

The main objective of this tool is to ensure that it needs to be tailored for your specific organization's real needs as many managers are not skilled in identifying which of their problems can be solved by training and which cannot. Make sure you engage in constructive communication about what their real problems are and which of them can be addressed through training. Consult your management team by studying which of the following areas required to be included in your training calendar :

management, leadership and supervision skills

soft skills, such as communication and conflict resolution

environment, health and safety

human resource processes, such as performance management

business skills, such as strategy, planning and process improvement

technical line and staff skills such as telephone etiquette and inventory management

Data Sources

In conducting a Training Needs Analysis (TNA), a number of factors have to be considered before selecting which data sources. These factors include :

the amount of time you have available

the human resources you have available

the level of accuracy you require

the reliability of each data source

the accessibility of each data source

The data sources that you have available may include :

interviews/surveys with supervisors/managers

interview/surveys with employees

employee performance appraisal documents

organization's strategic planning documents

organization/department operational plans

organization/department key performance indicators

customer complaints

critical incidents

product/service quality data

Techniques for Determining Specific Training Needs

A number of practical methods can be used to gather data about employees' performance. None of these methods can stand alone. Always use at least two. One of those that should be chosen should always be observation.




Job Descriptions

The Difficulty Analysis

Problem Solving Conference

Appraisal Reviews

Drive Pattern Identity

Analysis of organizational Policy

Whatever the method used to identify training needs, at least the following three points must be kept in view :

These methods should be used in combination, that is, there should be no dependence on only one method.

They may be used to identify training needs of each of the various groups of employees.

They should be applied to individual employees since training needs vary with each employee.

Sales Staff Training Needs Analysis

Telecoms Malaysia, a major telecommunication provider, is hiring sales staff for its business. The skills included are important in our sales representatives who are dealing with customers directly, Thank you for your time completing this analysis. At Telecoms Malaysia we are examining our human resources needs and exploring what can be done to provide our employees with the resources and materials you need in order to do your job most effectively. Building sales competencies will be a critical strategy for growth and planning. Thank you for your time and energy in making Telecoms Malaysia the best it can be.

 In the questionnaire below, place a check mark in the column that reflects your current level of skill or ability for each skill listed. Rank your skills on a sliding scale, with 1 being poor or beginner-level skills and 5 being strong skills or more advanced experience in that area. Your responses will help us determine your current skill set, so we can plan the most effective training program to help you excel at your job.

How to Use this Training Needs Analysis Questionnaire

 Whenever you're conducting a training needs analysis, you're looking to evaluate the current skills of your staff so you can figure out what areas they need the most training in. Having a proper training plan in place means that workers can work more productively and efficiently, because they'll have the skills they need to get the job done right.

After distributing a training needs analysis questionnaire like the one above, you have to analyze the results.

The first step of doing that is deciding which of the skills listed are the most important to your business. Mark them or highlight them. Then look at those most important skills and see which of them has the lowest ranking based on employee feedback (the most 1s and 2s for example). These should be your priority areas for employee training. They're the weakest skill sets in the most important areas for your company.

Once you've taken care of training in those areas, you can decide if the questionnaire results show training in other, less important, areas is also worth pursuing.