How to carry out a Training Needs Analysis

| 3 Min Read

At Guroo Learning, our mission is to reinvent learning at work. But why does learning at work need reinventing? Because companies worldwide spend over US $350 billion on training their employees, but incredibly, over 70% of learning is considered ineffective because it is not retained and transferred into everyday practice.,

This is where a training needs analysis (TNA) comes in. Companies know they need training, and many think they know how to get there, but if you skip conducting a training needs analysis you won’t be delivering a training program that actually meets the needs of your organisation and the needs of your employees. 

What is a training needs analysis?

A training needs analysis is a review of the learning and development needs of your organisation. This may sound simple, but it’s a step that’s often forgotten, even though effective training is crucial to your employees reaching their full potential and as a result, to the overall success of your organisation. 

A TNA should determine what training is needed, by whom, and when. It should identify the gap between the actual and the required knowledge, skills and abilities for each role in your organisation. 

The need for a TNA usually arises due to problems in the organisation, but companies should reassess their learning strategy at least once a year, or when they are developing a new program. 

So whether you’ve been asked to conduct a TNA due to a specific business problem, or you’re doing an annual reassessment of your organisation’s learning and development, here are five key steps to take: 

Start with the big picture 

A training needs analysis looks at the training needs of your organisation as a whole, so it’s a good idea to start with the big picture and then zoom in. Start by asking yourself what the goals of your organisation are. This might involve meeting with leadership or key decision makers to discuss the company’s high-level strategic objectives. 

Your training should align to your organisational goals, and stay aligned with them as they evolve. This is why when scoping learning programs with the Learning Canvas, we always start by asking, “What is the organisational goal of this learning?” Once you have a good idea of your organisational goals, you should also consider at a high level what your training goals actually are, and are the two aligned? 

Determine the required knowledge, skills and abilities    

Now that you have a clear picture of where the organisation is heading, you need to determine what knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) the people in your organisation need, to help achieve these strategic goals. 

Each position requires people to have KSAs, and these should be the focus areas of your TNA. 

  • Knowledge is the key theoretical or practical information people need to do their job, and might include things like regulations, procedures or best-practice.  
  • Skills are proficiencies and are often practiced or learned behaviour. Skill should cover not only practical or technical skills, but soft skills as well. 
  • Abilities might include things like problem solving or decision-making. Focusing on abilities helps your people reach their potential – it is investing in their individual professional development and will contribute not only to improving the output of your people but also their job satisfaction, which in turn will reap rewards for your organisation. 

Evaluate where you are right now 

Now you know where you are heading as an organisation, and the knowledge, skills and abilities needed by your people to help get you there, you need to bring your focus back to where you are at as an organisation right now.

Look at the state of current training. What’s working well? What isn’t? Is there anything clearly missing, or something that could be dropped? 

There are many ways to gather data around current performance. You might want to conduct observations to see how people actually do their jobs, use questionnaires or surveys, or interview managers about how their teams are performing.

Diagnostics or self-assessments are a great way to hear directly from your learners on how they feel they’re doing, and what they might need in their jobs. If you are using Academy, you can use the built in diagnostic tool or gather data from self-assessments. If you are using Analytics, you can use the insights from your current training to locate any trends or skill gaps. 

Ensure compliance 

A TNA is also a good time to ensure that any standards of compliance are being met. Particularly if you work in a highly regulated industry, review any licenses or regulations that need to be up to date, ensure all of your relevant compliance training is current and going to right teams. 

Assess the gap and make recommendations

You should now have a clear understanding of what your organisational goals are, the KSAs your people need to help achieve these goals, and the how the people in your organisation are currently performing. 

By comparing the outcomes of steps 2 and 3, you should be able to see exactly the areas your training needs to focus on and the teams or roles it should be going to. It also helps you prioritise your training needs if you’re facing budget or time constraints. 

It’s important to remember that many different factors can influence performance such as motivation, capacity, management, tools and software, and your company goals and training goals should reflect this. When it comes to making recommendations, consider not only what you’re training, but also how. Recommendations might look at things like training delivery methods, changes to improve employee engagement, addressing accessibility concerns, or optimising learning with data. 

Ultimately, while a TNA can be a lengthy process, it can help your business and your people get from where they are, to where they need to be, by investing in the right training for your people.

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