How to perform a training needs analysis

Training is an essential part of any workplace in any industry. Most organizations have a standardized onboarding program, but not every organization takes the time to truly understand what their team needs to know.  According to Forbes, over 61% of employees want their training to better address their specific skill gaps

The best way to keep your employees out of that 61% is to perform a training needs analysis. With a needs analysis, you can make informed, data-driven decisions about how to design your training program. Of course, there may be some critical policies and procedures that you must include regardless of your results. However, your needs analysis will help you curate the rest of your content to determine what should be in your training and, perhaps, what may not be necessary. 

What is a training needs analysis? 

A training needs analysis is the systematic method of identifying your organization's training requirements. It lets you evaluate the effectiveness of your current training program and how you can enhance it.  

After you have performed your training needs analysis, you can use it to build an informed training strategy. A training strategy informed by your needs analysis will likely improve your employees' productivity and engagement while remaining aligned with your business goals. 

The benefits of a training needs analysis 

If you plan to revamp your organization’s training content, we strongly recommend performing a training needs analysis. Armed with the knowledge you gained, you can make informed training decisions that will provide long-term benefits. 

You can proactively identify your team’s knowledge gaps

Knowledge gaps refer to any information that is missing from your learners’ knowledge. It is important to be aware of what your team’s biggest knowledge gaps are so you can address them accordingly.

As the working world evolves, policies change, and teams grow, new knowledge gaps appear. When you conduct a needs analysis, you may discover that your team has some new or unexpected knowledge gaps. A well-timed needs analysis lets you proactively address these knowledge gaps before they have a chance to affect your business practices. 

It helps keep your training relevant

No one has an endless amount of time to develop their skills. When someone feels that their training is irrelevant or repetitive, they will disengage and may become frustrated by the time they lose on training that doesn’t hold value to them. Your needs analysis will help you easily identify your team’s biggest skill gaps. You can then build a more focused training program that delivers the most valuable content to your learners. As a result, your learners are more likely to stay engaged with training that addresses their needs directly.

You can pinpoint & prioritize urgent training needs

Once you’ve gathered detailed information about your team’s training needs, you can analyze them for urgency. Consider which knowledge gaps are critical to your business practices and which are “good-to-knows,” and formulate your training plan to fill critical knowledge gaps first. 

How to perform a training needs analysis

Now you know what a training needs analysis is and why they're important, let's run through the five steps of conducting one. 

The five steps to performing a needs analysis, in a staircase format, starting with number one at the lower-left corner and ending with number 5 at the top-right corner.

1. Determine your ideal training outcomes 

Firstly, you’ll want to specify your organizational goals. Each team member's work drives your organizational goals, and so should your training. For this reason, you should start by identifying these goals so they can be effectively worked into your training program.

Next, identify which of your current training program’s outcomes should be improved. You could look at key performance indicators (KPIs) or review your departmental objectives or key results (OKRs) to identify what needs improvement. Of course, metrics aren't the only indicators of success. You could also interview managers for feedback on their department’s performance or talk to high performers about their experiences. 

Also, consider looking externally to get more ideas on what you should include in your training program. Conduct customer surveys and lead focus groups to discover how they feel your organization could improve. These results could uncover performance gaps that were not obvious to your internal team. 

Once you’ve gathered all this information, compile documentation to highlight what you need to add to your training program. You should also consider any newly introduced tools or procedures and how they may affect your training delivery. 

2. Assess what you’re already achieving in your training

Your training needs analysis can also show you what you’re already doing right. Look into how your current program is helping your learners, and be sure to include and enhance those areas in your revamped program.

A training content audit can help provide insights into what your current program does well. This process involves reviewing all of your training materials and analyzing their effectiveness. Is there an orientation video or a particular job aid that has received a lot of positive feedback? Consider why that may be, and try to emulate what went right in your future content. 

You should also conduct a tailored training needs assessment. A training needs assessment helps you analyze your existing training program’s effectiveness by measuring your team’s demonstrable skills. 

A few ways you could conduct your training assessment are:

  • Knowledge checks
  • Performance reports
  • Company metrics
  • Observing your team as they work
  • Interviewing managers about their team’s competencies and what has helped them improve

Once you’ve discovered where and how your training is improving performance, you will know exactly which aspects of your current training program to preserve in your new or revised one.

3. Figure out the best way to deliver your training

Once you’ve identified your training program’s strengths and what you would like to improve, it's time to choose the best way to make it all happen.

As you plan your eLearning modules and training sessions, talk to various eLearning vendors about the pre-packaged courses, custom course design services, and training solutions that they offer. You should also research the latest, most popular training tools and methodologies in your industry, including unconventional or emerging ones. This combination of knowledge will help you decide what works best for your organization.

Also, try brainstorming other possible solutions to address your team’s current performance gaps. You may discover that some issues need more than just eLearning or scheduled training sessions. Some learners with performance gaps may need mentoring or performance management to improve.  Consult your team to determine which skills they'd like to develop and what processes would be the most helpful. As a result, you may decide to work these processes into your regular training program alongside your training modules and sessions. 

4. Decide which topics are your highest priority

Whether it’s critical knowledge or simply something learners need to know before they can understand later topics, you should decide what content you need to create, update, and deliver first.

Your training should start by focusing on a few straightforward topics that your learners need to know immediately. Complex subjects and subjects that will not become relevant to your learners until later can wait until after they have learned the basics. With this in mind, you may prioritize your onboarding courses, critical policy training, or basic product knowledge courses.

You may also take the time to speak to the people who are directly involved in training your learners. They can tell you what knowledge matters most when your newest team members start working. You may already have a fairly solid idea of what this would include, but when you listen to your team, you may realize that some content needs to be a higher priority than expected.

5. Map out your training development plan

Armed with all the knowledge you’ve gained, you can start formulating a plan to bring your training vision to life. Determine what tasks you need to complete and document detailed descriptions of them, including how you'll carry out each one, who will be involved, and why you're doing it. Evaluate your current resources to see what you can utilize in this plan and seek external resources when you need extra help. 

First,  create your roadmap. Your roadmap will be your team’s primary source of information on your plan’s progress. Your roadmap should include:

  • The key milestones you need to achieve
  • The knowledge gaps you need to address
  •  Your organization's current position
  • The resources you’ll need to effectively achieve your goals 

Set clear objectives for everyone involved in your planning process that connects your training goals to your business goals. Make sure you've planned how to deal with potential obstacles to keep everyone on track if they appear.

How can Flare Learning help with your training needs analysis?

Ultimately, how you conduct your training needs analysis will depend on your organization's structure, culture, and what you want to achieve. The Flare team can help make this process smoother; however, you decide to do it. Remember, the five main steps are:

  1. Determine your ideal training outcomes
  2. Assess what you’re already achieving in your training
  3. Figure out the best way to deliver your training
  4. Decide which topics are your highest priority
  5. Map out your training development plan

Flare Learning’s team of project managers, instructional designers, and eLearning consultants can help with any or all of these steps. We’re ready to make your training shine!

Boost performance with learner-centered training

Impress your learners with a training program that gives them exactly what they need. Talk to the Flare Learning team about your next training needs analysis!

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