Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Training Needs Analysis (TNA)

I am putting down in my blog what I learnt in my 10 years as a trainer. I have delivered courses in classroom, created web based courses, coached via face to face, email and other means. Now I believe I have acquired new ideas and skills that will enhance the way I deliver training programs. But what I put down here is not something that is perfect and I know if I put it down here and there are people who can comment, I will learn more. So here goes, part two- TNA 101 by Chris Chew.

This took quite sometime for me to write because there is so much to write about and I was worried whether this too much information, and the blog will turn out to be a book instead. So I have decided to keep this short but willing to share more if you have questions. Basically, training needs analysis is about finding out where the skill/knowledge gap is and investigating what needs to be trained and to what level the learner needs to achieve. That means you have to find out what is the expected outcome of the training program and get an agreement from the line managers/ training requestor. It is important at this phase not to have any plans on how to deliver the lesson.
TNA is usually done at these levels:
  • Organization
    • Examples of training requested at these levels are: core competencies, new brand values, etc which is something that involves all employees or new hires or a new product launched.
  • Departmental/ Division
    • Examples of training requested at these levels are functional skills, teamwork or teambuilding, etc which involves employees from a certain department/ division e.g. finance, sales, customer service, etc. It can also be cross functional as in project focus teams.
  • Managers
    • This would be more specific training requirements to a small group e.g. writing business proposals, target accounts selling skills for corporate accounts
Analyze training request
  • At this stage, meet with the requestor to discuss about the reason for the training. What are the current situation at the workplace and what are the current practice and what does the manager expects by the end of the training. If training is not done, what are the impact to the organization? What are the key indicators that will determine the success of the training- this can be used to determine the over all training exercise was successful or strayed away during initial implementation or ROI (Return of Investment).
Detailing expectations
  • Setting goals for this level would be essential. Use the SMART principle in the planning (e.g. was the training goal specific, measureable, acheivable, realistic and timelines to conduct training agreed by everyone) One of the most important part, which in my experience, that is always left out is the agreement of the level of expertise that the learners will achieve by the end of the training. Managers will always set high expectations that once their staff goes through the training program, they will come out experts of the field but when in usual case, people will take time to master a particular subject, dependant on the levels of complexity. Classroom courses are not magical palaces which people go in and come out wearing blue suits with red cape and flying around. Skills usually take time to practice and the more they practice, the better they get at it. So usually after classroom, there should be post training activities to allow participants to put into practice what they learnt. This has to be agreed with the managers to happen back in the workplace and it will not come to a shock to them during this stage.
Investigating current situations
  • If this is not something new, sometimes you can skip this step but I always believe in not assuming so finding out what is happening at the current workplace is good preparation. You might even find someone who might be excelling in their work and be a good resource as well. There are several ways, you can do this:
    • Survey
    • Pretest
    • Discussion groups
    • Observation
Try to get a book on the subject because there are many more good practices out there regarding TNA. What I wrote here is just my little experience in doing a TNA. When I was doing product training, it came to a point when I did not do much TNA but able to already go straight into writing expectations of the training outcome.

Next: Designing Training Program in the 21st century (This is my favourite part)

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