In the wider discussion surrounding learning and development, there’s a lot of focus on the business’s needs and goals. That’s natural – the organization is at the center of the process. Or is it? A Training needs analysis is to look for company’s overall goals and milestones before making efforts on areas of training that are necessary for employees of any organization.
Increasingly, we’re finding that while the organization does get the spotlight, increasingly it should share the attention with the learner. In fact, focusing on learner needs can give your L&D efforts a dramatic boost. The challenge is finding ways to connect the needs of the learner with the needs of the business.
Aligning Employee and Business Needs
The key to aligning business and employee needs when it comes to L&D is an in-depth, accurate training needs analysis. However, many organizations skip this step, unaware of the time and cost savings it can offer. The central key in the overall process is to look at the situation from the employee’s perspective, the department’s perspective, and the company’s perspective.
A Note on Perspectives
Briefly, let’s explore how the three training-related perspectives touched on above differ from one another. In terms of company-level needs, training is usually centered around things like successfully onboarding new employees, ensuring that they are accurately introduced to the company’s values, ethics, and culture, and then completing compliance training and other mandatory training courses.
Things begin to change when we go a bit deeper and explore the needs of the department. Here, training needs center on the needs of the department – sales training, communication training, training to use specific equipment or to follow processes, and more. This is more practical and designed to help the department accomplish its goals. To help connect employees with department-related training, make sure to develop clear, understandable job descriptions.
Finally, we come to employee needs. These differ from both the organization’s needs and the departments. Here, training is more focused on building personal competencies. That can include practical training, such as what we discussed above for departments, but it goes farther than that. Employees require training that will help them learn, grow, develop, and move up. No one intends to work in the same department for the entirety of their career, and the right training can help ensure that they can move forward in their career.
Changing Your Training Needs Analysis
If yours is like many other organizations, training needs analyses are generally based on the company’s needs. Again, there is nothing wrong with that per se, but it does lead to a disconnect with the employee over time. To change the paradigm, you should begin at the bottom and work upward, thereby including the employee’s needs, addressing the department’s needs, and then tying all that into the organization’s needs.
To achieve this, you must first identify employee training needs. Use the steps below to inform your modified needs analysis.
Ultimately, your training plan is really all about the right goals. Organizational goals set without any regard for the skills or abilities that employees will need to achieve them will ultimately fail. You can get around this by first considering your employees’ strengths and weaknesses, tying those to the skills necessary to achieve organizational goals and then creating an overarching strategy that will develop team members according to their needs, department needs, and the organization’s needs.
Often, training and development have little to do with employees and everything to do with the organization. This results in employees receiving training to develop skills and competencies that they are uninterested in or poorly suited for. To avoid this problem, take time to include employees in the discussion surrounding their development.
- What do they need to continue their careers?
- Are they satisfied with their role in the organization?
- If not, what can be done to change things?
- Do they want to move to another position?
With answers to these and other pressing questions, you will be able to create training programs perfectly suited to each employee that simultaneously support both department and organization needs.
Assess Your Resources
Setting the right goals and including employees in the training conversation will get you much closer to the finish line. However, they are not the limit to what must be done. To achieve success here, you need the right resources.
An in-depth assessment of your resources should cover technology, such as your learning management system (LMS), but also human elements, such as subject matter experts (SMEs), mentors, and others. During your assessment, answer the following questions:
- Is the LMS cloud-based, flexible, and mobile-friendly?
- Do we have the right content to support employee needs?
- Are we using the right content delivery formats for our learners?
- What additional resources should we add?
- Do we have any resources that could be reused or repurposed?
- Do we have the right SMEs in place?
Set Your Priorities
Given that the organization’s success hinges on employees getting what they need when they need it, you must prioritize your training. What elements are most important now? Which can wait until later? Which content needs to come first to prepare the employee for more advanced learning down the road?
The most important step in training needs analysis is prioritizing your learning. It also means not trying to do everything all at once. Learning and development requires an investment of time and money. Structure your strategy so that you focus on the right elements first, so you can realize a return on your investment before moving on to other training needs. Ideally, each step will feed into the next, with the ROI from one funding the investment in the next.
It All Starts with the Training Needs Analysis
The key to everything we have discussed so far is the training needs analysis. This gives you insight into the abilities, knowledge, and skills of your employees, helps identify their needs, and then brings everything together into a successfully L&D initiative. What have your experiences been with connecting employee needs, department needs, and organizational needs? Share them with us in the comments below.