Training Needs Assessment #2: Taking a Closer Look at Your Organization

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Ready for column 2? Wow, you’re fast! Here we have the organizational analysis. Have you got your fine toothed comb and a magnifying glass ready? Your job now is to see if you can detect where and when training is needed in your organization.

Preparing for Training by Taking a Closer Look at Your Organization

In this phase of the training needs assessment, you’re gonna document your organization’s goals, available resources, the general vibe and tradition around you for transferring what is learned through training back to the job, and any internal or external barriers to completing training. As you’ll soon see, the organizational analysis has a much broader scope than the other training analyses you’ll be soon doing. Like a lot of other things, to get anything done in the organizational analysis, you’ve first gotta set goals!

Specify Your Organization’s Goals: If your organization’s goals aren’t drawn out on a big tack board or fancy LCD display somewhere, it’s your job to specify them. Ask people in different areas of the organization for their take on what the organization’s goals are. Organizational goals also help examine business constraints by comparing the goals of upper-level and lower-level parts of organizations. Communicating these differences will add a lot of value if done the right way. You’ll be an all-star.

Once you’ve got differences accounted for across different levels of the organization, look for opportunities to connect training to those goals. Outline how your training program gets implemented, what types of evaluation will be conducted to determine if your training was good or fell flat on its face, and what the actual training environment looks like (which is important to ensure the transfer of learned skills).

Get a Pulse of Your Organization’s Training Transfer Climate: Trainers with Ph.D’s might throw jargon like “transfer climate” at you from time to time expecting you know what they are talking about. We don’t assume anything other than that you are looking for basic information for how best to conduct training in your organization. If someone says this buzzphrase, simply know they are referring to the organization’s support for applying what is learned in training back to the job environment.

There are two things that are pretty important to consider about transfer climate:

First, does your organization provide opportunities to apply what was learned in training back to the job? This should sound familiar to content in our previous post, “4 Quick Checks to Make Sure You Aren’t Wasting Money On Employee Training”. Oh yeah, it’s in that post too, because it is critical your employees are able to have the time and space necessary to practice what they learn in training back to the job.

Second, is there any system set up to reward trainees for demonstrating training transfer back to the job? If not, what is their motivation to follow-through? Make sure something is in place. A solution could even be as simple as a walkthrough check and gift certificate reward. Something needs to be there to communicate that applying what was learned in training back to the job is valuable to the organization.

Identify and Plan for Legal Constraints: Next in the organizational analysis, you’re going to want to make sure you are protecting yourself from lawyers. We shouldn’t have to tell you that this is a very litigious society and you sure as hell don’t want to be sued because of discrimination in terms of how you train, who you train, and how you reward your employees for transferring new knowledge and skills back to the job. Plan for this, make sure you keep records and you shouldn’t have any issues.

Sync up With HR to Make the Most of Your Trainees’ Time: Finally, you’re going to want to make sure you are planning ahead from a human resources standpoint. Let’s say you’ve got a group of 10 employees who are all junior translators. However, a few of them soon will be going on special humanitarian assignment for 2 years in the United Arab Emirates while others will be staying in Scranton to work on French visa documents. If your training is all about how to document visas better, you’re probably going to be wasting a lot of your UAE bound employees time if you include them!


Training Needs Assessment #1: How to Get Organizational Support for Training

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Great! So you decided your employees need to be trained. The first thing you need to complete now is your training needs assessment. After you’re done, you’ll have laid the foundation for success. This is a critical step, and you should take heart in knowing only 27% of companies do this (Tannenbaum &Yukl 1992). Talk about competitive advantage from the start!

Here is a picture of your roadmap to a completed training needs assessment. While this may look like a combination of daunting and boring, we’re about to spice everything up and get moving piece by piece! Doing training needs analyses can be a lot of fun. This post will cover your first three steps under “Organizational Support” on the far left. Subsequent posts will cover the rest of the columns. Ready? Here we go.

Needs Assessment Map

How to develop organizational support for training

Research has shown managerial support affects employee motivation to learn and the transfer of training outcomes back to the job (Colquitt et al., 2000). Therefore, getting upper management support for your training plans is crucial! There are three goals in this stage of the needs analysis:

1. Establish a relationship with top management: Come to an agreement that what you are doing (the needs assessment) is important, find out who in the organization stands to benefit from training, and then establish expectations. Yeah that was a three part first goal, but they are all brutally important. By getting top management understanding and support for what you are doing, you’re conquering your greatest obstacle to a successful training launch.

2. Establish a relationship with key organizational members: Once you’ve got solid top management support, you’re going to need to focus on the rest of the people that will be affected by the training, or those people that have an occupational interest in it. For example, if Judy is your main accountant, and you’re having planning to have a seminar on tax accounting, you’d be real dumb not to get her involved from the beginning.

Just as an aside, there is a Japanese term for getting everyone on the same page prior to new organizational initiatives called: “nemawashi”. The champion for the new organizational change or decision literally goes from desk to desk of all the employees in the organization to basically tell them this is what the organization is going to do and solicits their buy-in. Once everyone is on board and agrees, the new initiative is announced to the rest of the team (if they don’t agree, they simply come in with a giant samurai sword and…). Of course, everyone already knows this is going to be taking place and have already agreed. The announcement is more procedural than anything. Food for thought.

3. Form liaison teams: A liason team is a small number of people from the organization serving as the primary point of contact between the assessor (you) and the organization. Forming these teams really helps to establish trust between you and the rest of the organization, uncovers concerns, and increases organizational participation. Do it!