What is Training Needs Analysis (TNA)?
A trainer helps to create an ongoing learning environment in the organisation, a learning organisation that continuously looks to improve performance. A Training Needs Analysis (TNA) can take place at any time, for example when the organisation wants to improve the knowledge of the staff or introduce new methods of working, new machinery or new software.
Effective training or development relies on knowing what is required and this encompasses the individual, the team, the department and the organisation. An effective TNA is vital as new technology and flexible working practices become more common, ensuring that the training contributes to development of the individual as well as organisational performance.
The analysis of training needs is not a task for specialists alone. Managers today are often responsible for many forms of people management, including the training and development of their team, and should therefore have an understanding of training needs analysis and be able to implement it successfully.
The introduction of new ways of working, whether it is a new system or machine, has been decided for a reason. The decision was made perhaps to improve production and efficiency, whether it is to produce more of a certain item with the new machine or reduce administrative time and effort with a new system. This will give you the starting point for your measurements and the formulation of the training aim which is the goal of the training and at the same time matching the business objective. The subsequent training will provide measurable business benefits to justify its implementation.
The training needs analysis has 2 major points.
Outset – Where are we now?
The current skill and/or knowledge level using current tools and systems before any training intervention and implementation of the new machine/system.
Outcome – Where do we want to be?
The desired skill level and/or knowledge after the training intervention and implementation of the new machine/system.
Of course there is a lot of work between these 2 points – this is where the strategy, design and delivery sit to name but a few.
Where are we now?
Successful training needs analysis involves more than one method of analysis, using techniques such as observation, interviews and questionnaires. There are many types of analysis and measurements that can be performed, but many do not know the best tools for the right purpose. When it comes to undertaking a TNA, you have to look at the situation being faced and devise an appropriate approach.
- A TNA should not start with a solution in mind
- Use current experts with a great level of existing knowledge to get your baseline including any existing shortfall in knowledge or skills.
- Involve as many of your audience as possible rather than relying on the possible subjective view of managers.
- Check Key Performance Indicators (KPI) that each employee needs to meet as part of an appraisal and plan to build in the competencies in the training.
- Use more than one method of analysis for a more complete picture.
The results of a TNA should provide answers to the following questions:
- What is needed and why?
- Where is it needed?
- Who needs it?
- How will it be provided?
- How much will it cost?
- What will the business effect be?
Another part of the TNA is the analysis of the cost of training, which should include factors such as:
- Development of training content
- Training content delivery
- Required time off work to attend training
- Lost productivity from time spent in training
- Travel and logistical expenses
- Training evaluation and reporting
Not every TNA will lead to a full training event, sometimes the results show that only a small percentage of the workforce are affected and the gap in their knowledge can be addressed by other means.
Where do we want to be?
Prove that your training has changed behaviour by establishing a pre-training baseline and doing a post-training evaluation.
If you calculate the cost of providing the training solution and the value that the solution will give, then you are 90% towards the evaluation part of the training cycle. The TNA should form part of the evaluation process, because to perform the TNA after the training will let you know if the training was successful and you can see if the gap, also known as the performance gap, has closed.
Surprisingly TNA forms part of the evaluation process – because training is only effective if the material is retained and used on the job.
Questions the evaluation process should answer are:
- How much did the training improve the competencies targeted in the training?
- How much did the training improve employees’ actual job performance?
- How much did the training improve the meeting of business objectives?
- How much did the training result in a positive return on its investment?
The key questions that employers want answers to will determine the method and components of the evaluation process.
How do we get there?
The big question!
As a result of a TNA you may find there are varying audiences with different needs, for example some may only need awareness training, others may need to know how to monitor and provide new style reports and then there are the employees who need to use the new machinery/system and learn new skills and apply existing knowledge in a new way.
The training methods used will be determined by:
- The geographic spread of your audience
- The technology skill level
- The availability of appropriate environments such as training systems or suitable rooms
- Language skills
- The availability of the audience
Aim for the best method of training to suit your audience’s preferred learning style, but ensure that there is a mix of methods as we all retain more if there is variety such as reading, watching, doing. Remember that an active environment where the task is performed is far more effective (up to 75%) than listening to a lecture (5%) or watching someone else do the task.
Once you have established the performance gaps, you are able to plan to fill those gaps. The gaps should help form the training objectives. Each of the objectives may have weightings in one or more of three categories; Knowledge, Skills or Attitudes (KSA). Knowledge based requirements are generally cognitive requiring mental abilities and involve communication, the retention of information and subsequent ability to use that information to work out and apply the knowledge. The Attitudes element is based on the emotional or feelings part of the work – this may involve a change of attitude towards how things are done and the use of time in a better way. A task with mainly Skills elements will point the trainer in the direction of hands-on learning, the doing of the job in a simulated environment or carefully monitored and planned on the job training.
A thorough TNA will enable you to formulate the Aim and Objectives and help you create a well-structured course.