Posted on October 13, 2011 by Gail Danneman
It is quite common for organizations to train all employees regardless of the differences that may exist between employees. Many of us have probably experienced training with a large group. I have always viewed such training experiences as attempts by the organization to train as many people as possible quickly. Employees are often squished into rooms and filled to capacity simply because the organization wants to get the training over with.
An organization that engages in such practices is placing itself at quite a disadvantage. Even though it may appear that the organization will cut costs, in the long run the organization is doing the opposite. If employees are not trained properly, performance will not be optimal. Thus, the organization may be losing out in the end. If money is still a concern, what can be done?
A needs assessment is a simple, yet very powerful tool often used in organizations. Before training is even developed, a needs assessment should be conducted to save time and money. There are three levels of a needs assessment that together will provide you with the information you need to successfully train employees. It is worth an organization’s time if this approach ends up saving them quite a bit of money down the road.
The first step in conducting a needs assessment is to look directly at the organization. What are the organizational goals? That is, what is the purpose or primary focus of the organization? Perhaps this could be customer service or making the best paper on the market. Whatever the organization’s goals are, it is essential to identify them. These goals will play a major role in how training is developed. At this point of the needs assessment it is also important to find out what leaders and supervisors think about training. Unless the leaders and supervisors are convinced that training will be beneficial, the training will be worthless. Buy-in and support from organizational leaders is a must for training to be a success.
After looking at the organization, you will want to turn your attention to individual employees. What skills, knowledge, or abilities is a particular employee lacking or in need of training for? For example, maybe your organization just got a new server for the office and you know the employee responsible for caring for the server will need training. Obviously not everyone in the entire organization needs to be trained on using the server, so you want to identify individual employees that will be directly working with the server. The whole idea of looking at each individual is to avoid the large lecture hall style training. Every position within an organization has unique characteristics, knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to complete the job. By identifying particular individuals in need of training, your organization can avoid large numbers of employees missing work time.
Lastly, each position at the organization should be examined for knowledge, skills, and abilities. In a previous post I touched briefly on job analysis and how a job analysis can serve as a great tool for human resource practices. This is a case where having completed a thorough and accurate job analysis will serve you well. Without identified knowledge, skills, and abilities for a position you cannot develop training. A training developer needs very specific information that is necessary for a position. Some knowledge, skills, and abilities are expected before starting the job, therefore it would be a waste to train employees on all these aspects.
Spending time before developing training conducting a need assessment is well worth it. Not only do you identify where the organization wants to go, but you can also identify which individual employees are in need of training. This helps improve productivity, as only employees needing training will be trained.
Think about your organization and how training is conducted? Do you think your organization completes a needs assessment?