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Training Needs Assessment
 

No spaceship would leave the ground without the commander knowing that all of his/her crew had acquired the abilities needed to survive in outer space.   Unfortunately, many organizations either do not adequately equip their people or stay aground too long waiting for everybody to learn everything.  What does an organizational spaceship require from its crew to reach its targeted destination and fulfill its mission?  Some talents are nice to have, but are they really required? 

Few organizations are lucky enough to have staff so capable and adaptable that they require no further training.  Though most organizations realize the need to train, not many have an internal consensus on what, whom and how to train.  Without proper identification of the need, most people judge the value of their training sessions on whether they are fun and interesting, not on the end result of the knowledge learned, and the behaviors or attitudes changed.  As far as investment in people development is concerned, the most crucial question is, therefore, ‘do you train what is needed?’

Management often assumes that they know whether their people need training, in what areas and how.  Most of the time, however, their judgement produces suboptimal results.   Either the organization commits too much in educating the untrainables or unmotivated, or keeps sending their rising stars to training courses without knowing for sure if the organization will get from them justifiable returns on the money and time invested.

Training is a means towards an end, which is - the betterment of the people and organization concerned.  Symptoms of improper uses of training are:

  • Training as an end in itself.  It is just required.
  • Training as a reward.  Hard-working people are sent to enjoy activities outside work.
  • Training as a succession planning ritual.  A certain course is set as an anointment of the next troop of leaders.
  • Training as a status symbol.  Only a privileged few are entitled to it.
  • Training as a networking event.  The content of the course does not matter; the participants do.
  • Training as a punishment.  People with wrong attitudes/poor capability are sent away from their job (and bosses!).
     

When these symptoms occur, in various cases it reflects the fact that the organization management systems are in such a dire state that the management has to resort to training as a contingency, at the expense of genuine opportunities for people development.  It thus signals the time to properly review, clarify and prioritize the organization’s training and development needs.

Some organizations rely on staff surveys to find out about their training needs.  The problem is surveys can merely reflect respondents’ perceptions about the aspects asked, not a measurement of the organization’s real needs for training and development.  To optimize benefits from training programs, organizations need a more thorough training needs assessment method that can effectively identify priority areas, target groups and feasible programs.  Priority areas refer to the capabilities that, when improved, will optimize returns for the organization.  Target groups are the group of people who need such training and improvement.  Feasible programs are training and development programs that focus on the priority areas, and executable, given an organization’s resource constraints, for the target groups. 

A thorough training needs assessment exercise should include study of the organization’s goals, translation of these goals into capability requirements, followed by measurement of the current level of staff knowledge, skills and other required competence to determine whether training is the answer, and if yes, identification of the types of training and development, the extent of the gaps, the people’s level of ‘trainability’, as well as the activities required to bridge the gaps. In addition, surveys should be regularly administered on people/parties involved to evaluate and fine-tune content and approaches of the training and development activities already in place to get the most out of them.  All of these should be undertaken with the primary objective of responding, not necessarily to the ‘wishes’ of the people, but to the needs of the organization in light of its vision, mission and strategy.
 

PeoplePotential* – An in-depth, fully integrated training needs assessment system by Signature Solutions

PeoplePotential* is an in-depth, fully integrated analysis package consisting of conceptual framework, processes and tools to help organizations identify training and development needs of their people.  It covers 4 key steps in organization training needs assessment, namely:

  • Identification of training needs by analyzing the organization and job requirements;
  • Prioritization of training needs by understanding the work environment as well as supervisors/managers’ expectation from and assessment of their people;
  • Identification of trainable gaps and recommendation of training and development actions by assessing the capability level and attitude of people in the organization; and
  • Undertaking post training assessment by surveying and assessing results of the training and development activities carried out.

PeoplePotential* - a fully-integrated training needs assessment system by Signature Solutions
 

PeoplePotential* – How does it differ?

It is our belief that ‘people development activities’ in an organization should not be limited to providing training courses, but cover a wide range of activities to assist people in their acquisition of the necessary knowledge, skills, and other abilities in ways that is in line with the requirement of their job, and that suit their learning styles and personality.  PeoplePotential* therefore provides for each client organization a customized training need analysis report recommending approaches, methods, projects and activities, of training and non-training nature, suitable for training and development given the specific context of each organization.  This is to ensure that people have ways and means to develop even in areas where training activities alone have proved to yield less-than-optimum results;
It separates ‘needs’ from ‘wants’, and identifies areas that matter most in fulfilling the organization’s vision, mission and strategy;
It takes into account expectations and constraints within the organization by prioritizing and recommending training areas that yield quick wins as well as longer-term wins, while, where appropriate, also suggesting actions to foster the type of environment conducive for people to apply the knowledge and skills acquired from their training;
It measures training gaps for all population groups, but targets high priority groups first and recommend actions to support the prioritized areas of training needs, then assesses the priority and urgency levels of, and recommends options for the others;
It measures the effectiveness of training and development programs and activities after they are implemented to ensure full alignment with and support of the needs identified.

Note: *Trademarks registration process underway 


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