Analyzing people’s training and development needs is a key strategic action for any organization that believes that it substantially achieves its success through people, or sees people as its’ most important asset. But it is important to realize that needs analysis cannot be a once-off activity but should be carried out on a regular basis so that the information is continually updated.
Although individual identification of training needs can be done through one-to-one discussions with an employee, supervisor or manager, or via a formal process such as an appraisal form (which specifically asks for training that may prove useful to the employee) this method is often slow and the results are difficult to collate. These problems can be overcome by using a widespread employee audit. This can be done manually but, these days, is most effectively administered via the Internet. An on-line training needs audit has many benefits. These include speed, efficiency and easy collation of results, fast analysis and simple dissemination of reports. However, this is not to say that electronic surveys are without some problems. Perhaps the most significant of these is how to frame a questionnaire so that it is loose enough to allow individuals plenty of choice and even ‘free form’ input (where possible) and tight enough to allow specific and tangible conclusions to be drawn about training and development needs (at a content level at least).
One available online system to conduct a training needs analysis exercise is to use the Enterprise Pulse™ Training Needs survey process. This framework categorizes into four main clusters. These are:
- Technical and Regulatory training, focusing on training needed to ensure that individuals and teams understand the major processes by which work gets done, how those processes are most effectively controlled and how risk is determined and managed.
- Commercial/Business training, focusing on training needed to ensure that individuals and teams have a sound appreciation of how and why customers buy from the enterprise (including the levels of service they require) and helping them learn how the whole organization can operate in an intelligent and commercially sound/profitable manner.
- Behavioral/Style training, focusing on training needed to ensure that individuals and teams develop high levels of awareness about themselves (in temperament, preferences and values terms) and the organization as a whole (in cultural terms) and then use this knowledge to communicate clearly and concisely at all levels, as needs demand.
- Skills/Competency training, focusing on training needed to ensure that individuals and teams are personally and collectively well organized and that those appointed to leadership or management positions have the skills they need to provide sound direction for others.
These four clusters are relevant to all types of organizations (in public and private sector and in multiple industries) of all sizes (from small business to large-scale multi-nationals). As the circular training diagram above indicates, (which plots overall survey results) within each of these four clusters are three sub-categories of training, and within each of these sub-categories are six training and development topics (or types of course). This means that, in total, the Enterprise Pulse™ – Training Needs survey provides 72 topic areas under 12 subcategories, within four major clusters.