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Training Needs Assessment Survey

What is Training Needs Assessment?

Needs Assessment: the process to identify "gaps" between current performance and department/organizational objectives.
An assessment process that serves as a diagnostic tool for determining what training needs to take place. This survey gathers data to determine what training needs to be developed to help individuals and the organization accomplish their goals and objectives. This is an assessment that looks at employee and organizational knowledges, skills, and abilities, to identify any gaps or areas of need. Once the training needs are identified, then you need to determine/develop objectives to be accomplished by the training. These objectives will form criteria for measures of success and utility.

This analysis can be performed by managers who are able to observe their staff and make recommendations for training based on performance issues or gaps between performance and objectives. This analysis can also be performed on an organization-wide level by Training and Development managers who survey the organization to identify needs.

Factors that may lead to Training Needs

Why conduct a Training Needs Assessment/Survey?

A needs assessment/survey helps an organization achieve its goals. It reduces gaps between employee skills and the skills required by the job and department. The training needs assessment survey can also form the basis (benchmark) for determining effectiveness of the training administered. You can re-administer the training needs survey after the training was performed to see if there was an increase in performance/skills as measured by the survey.

How do you determine where Training is needed?

You can use different sources to determine training needs:

Gathering Employee Opinions for Training Needs

Schedule a meeting with employees in a particular department or job classification. During the meeting, gather ideas from the employees about their needs and areas for professional development. Determine common themes and topics.

Ask the employees to review the information gathered and determine which areas/needs are most important to receive training.

Then determine the desired outcomes from the training to address these needs. These outcomes could serve as measures of success (validation) of the training.

What are the Steps in a Training Needs Assessment

  1. Needs Assessment (collecting and analyzing data)
  2. Design (program objectives, plan, measures of success)
  3. Testing (prototype the instrument and process)
  4. Implementation (collection measures and update as needed)
  5. Analysis & Evaluation (review feedback and data collected)

Steps in a Training Needs Assessment

Assessment Methods: Advantages and Disadvantages

Survey Questionnaires

Web based or printed questionnaires distributed to employees for completion. Construction of surveys to include multiple/fixed choice questions and free/open-ended questions for text responses.

Advantages
Disadvantages
  • Survey a large number of employees at the same time.
  • Do not require a lot of time.
  • Enable honest and open feedback.
  • Gathers quantitative and qualitative data easily.
  • May be difficult to design questionnaires to allow for follow-up or more elaborate responses.
  • Might not identify the specific causes behind employee actions/behaviors.

Personal Interviews

Conducted by a trained "interviewer" who follows an interview outline (or set of questions) to be asked during the interview.

Advantages
Disadvantages
  • More flexible in the ability to ask various questions.
  • Able to immediately follow-up on items mentioned in the interview.
  • Is not limited in scope or limited to only a certain set of questions.
  • Time consuming. Especially if only one individual is interviewed at a time.
  • Requires the interviewer to document conversations in detail. Any details not documented are lost or need to be gathered through subsequent interviews.

Personal Observations

An observation of the employee at work. May be structured (i.e., the employee performs specific tasks) or unstructured (i.e., the observer tries to document the employees work without influencing what the employee does).

Advantages
Disadvantages
  • May reduce the amount of interruption of the employee's work.
  • May be more realistic--observations are made of the employee actually at work.
  • Requires a trained observer.
  • Requires the observer to document the work in detail. Any details not documented are lost or need to be gathered through subsequent observations.