What is A Training Needs Analysis and How Do You Perform One?

training needs analysis

Training Needs Analysis

The majority of candidates don’t change jobs because of their boss. Or because their work is too difficult. Or even because they feel they aren’t paid enough. 

No, according to Linkedin, the main reason people leave their jobs is because of lack of advancement and development. 

In a world where the best talent looks for the best development opportunities, training needs analysis can help unlock the door to improved performance and retention.

But how do you decide what type of internal training you want your team to attend? It can be a challenge to make sure you are picking the correct training for each team member, and ensuring your team get the most benefit from the training you have selected.

What is a Training Needs Analysis?

A training needs analysis is the process a company goes on to determine what training needs to be undertaken by a team to do their job effectively and grow in their role. 

A training needs analysis usually takes the form of a short questionnaire that asks the employee to assess how well they believe they perform in key areas of their job. 

These questionnaires may well be rolled into yearly or quarterly reviews to make them seem less interruptive. 

Why Conduct a Training Needs Analysis?

According to the Association for Talent Development (ATD), companies that offer comprehensive training programs have 218% higher income per employee than companies without formalized training. 

The cost alone of hiring a new member of staff should put a renewed emphasis on the need for upskilling and training:

It’s predicted that replacing a salaried employee costs 6 to 9 months’ salary on average. For a software developer making £72,000 a year (the UK average) that’s up to £54,000 in recruiting and training expenses alone.

Outside of simply saving you money in the long run and building better relationships with your candidates, a training needs analysis has more immediate effects on your working practices. 

So it’s quite clear that upskilling your talent is incredibly important – but why are we adding this extra step of paperwork? Why are we doing a training needs analysis and not just jumping straight into training people? 

Well, training isn’t cheap. And giving someone the wrong training won’t do your relationship with that person any favours. 

The power of a training needs analysis lies in it’s ability to inform the training and guide you towards better relationships with your staff. 

training and knowledge quote

Identify Knowledge Gaps Early

One of the most impactful benefits of conducting a thorough training needs analysis is the insights it can give you into what knowledge gaps your teams have. 

Being made aware of a skill gap as a team is trying to roll out an important project will grand the whole process to a halt, costing time and money. 

Catching these gaps early with a well thought out training needs analysis will give you plenty of time to tackle this issue head-on. This proactive approach, combined with communication and transparency across your teams will have a positive impact on your team’s progress and development. 

Make Training Less Disruptive

One of the biggest barriers to training success is how it impacts on the day to day of employees. 

When everyone is wearing a good number of hats, it’s hard to find time for development. 

In fact, it’s predicted that Employees have only about 1% of their work time to devote to professional development — about 5 minutes per day in a normal workweek.

The lack of time for an employee’s own training makes any ‘institution led’ training seem disruptive, forced and insincere. 

Having a training needs analysis will allow you to schedule and plan training well in advance. This gives them time to plan around the training and gives them plenty of time for you to translate the value of the training with internal comms. 

Highlights Training You May Not Have Considered

It can be hard to keep up with a growing team’s needs, especially when it comes to training – something that people very rarely bring up. 

A training needs analysis formalises this process. It makes conversations around training commonplace and, once these conversations are out in the open, you’ll be surprised how many new insights you gain into what teams have been missing and what they would benefit from. 

Helps Your Prioritise Training Needs

When it comes to planning out your training, it can be hard to decide which training sessions are the most important. However, training needs analysis can help you pinpoint the training which needs to be completed ASAP, and which training can be left till later down the line.

When you think about the skills that each team member needs to have, you may want to prioritise these regarding how key they are. For example, if you have a customer-facing team, ensuring they have top-notch customer relations skills may be top of the list.

All other training can be prioritised afterward, but it’s important to get that customer relations training booked in and attended as soon as possible to make sure your customer-facing teams are top performers.

Eliminates Training Wastage

Ensuring the right people go on the right training has a massive part to play in the effective delivery of training

A training needs analysis will enable you to target the correct people for each training session, ensuring everyone is following a personalised training plan, so they get the most benefit possible.

Identifies New Hires

A positive bi-product of running training needs analysis is that you may actually find out that a new hire would be the best approach as opposed to individual training. 

This could be the case if you run a training needs analysis and find every member of that team lacking in a certain, niche expertise. 

Working with hiring manager’s here will help build out a more effective recruiting process.

How Do You Perform A Training Needs Analysis

The specifics for performing a training needs analysis will change from business to business and job role to job role, but some general best practices can still be observed. 

For the sake of this article, we’ll be focusing on the training needs analysis we regularly perform for our clients in the technology sector. 

There are two popular methods of performing a training needs analysis, with both being built around strong communication. 

Perform A Tech Skills Gap Audit – Using ILU Matrix

There are external companies who’ll come into your business and conduct an internal skills audit, but often the best way is to do it yourself. By speaking to your developers you can work with them to assess their strengths and weaknesses.

But you can also receive their insight into where they feel the entire team may need further training. As a bonus, by involving your staff in the auditing process, you’re also empowering them.

A cursory search online reveals several different skills gap matrix tools that you can use to assess you and your team’s abilities. Most skills matrices have people’s names and a list of the tasks necessary for a particular role on the X and Y axis, respectively.

The “ILU” skills matrix remains to this day an excellent way of quickly and consistently identifying your team’s strengths and areas for development.

Along the X and Y axis you plot people’s names against the tasks associated with their job roles—as above—but instead of scoring out of 10, 100, or any numerical scale, you use the ILU chart legend to assign a skill rating to the individual.

Reading the Matrix: 

  • When someone cannot perform the task, you leave the box blank.
  • If someone can do the task but needs supervision and guidelines, mark them ‘I.’
  • When someone can do the task but with guidelines alone, mark them ‘L.’
  • If someone can do the task by themselves, they receive a ‘U.’
  • When someone can train others how to do the task, they get a ‘square.’
  • And, if someone can write the manual on how to do the task and think strategically about it, they earn a square with a dot in the middle.

 

Below is an example of an ILU chart. In this instance the skills being assessed relate to automotive production. But you can easily imagine how it could be adjusted to fit a relevant skills set for a development team. It’s very easy to draw up any kind of ILU matrix you want using Excel or Google Sheets.

Using this method results in zero ambiguity about someone’s ability to complete an essential aspect of their job role, and being able to see this information at a glance allows team leaders and managers to understand overall strengths and weaknesses quickly. The ILU skills gap matrix can be adapted to fit any development team, regardless of the technologies, frameworks, and core concepts critical to the success of a project.

Training Needs Analysis Questionnaire

Another option for conducting a training needs analysis is a simple questionnaire. This questionnaire isn’t restricted by a current framework so you can completely customise it to your needs. 

Each item in the basic questionnaire is rated along a 10-point scale in 2 different ways – how important a task is to the respondent’s job (Rating A); and how well the task is currently performed (Rating B). 

Rating A provides an index of how important the task is to the respondent’s job, while Rating B provides an index of how well it is currently being performed. Comparing the scores for importance/performance provides an assessment of where the greatest training needs lie. 

The greater the difference in scores, the greater the training need. 

Reading the Questionnaire:

  • When a task gets a high rating on A but a low rating on B, the training need is high and should be the top priority for training (important task, not well performed).
  • Where the task is rated low on A and low on B, then the task could be considered for training, but as a lower priority (unimportant task, not well performed) 
  • The task is rated high on A and high on B then there is no training need (important task, well performed)
  • Where the task is rated low on A and high on B there is no training need 
How Important Do You Believe This is to your Job? (1-10)How Well Do You Feel You’re currently performing in this regard? (1-10)
Keeping Up To Date With Industry/Language Developments
Time Management
Demoing New Features
Communicating features and changes to your team
Communicating Features and Changes to Major Stakeholders
Critically Evaluating Existing Code
Writing Code
Editing Code
Discussing new project parameters with Stakeholders
Receiving Feedback and Making Changes
Working as a part of a development team
Working within an agile methodology

Use these questions, or variants of them, to build a good picture of the type of training that would most benefit your team. 

After gathering this information you need to interpret it and build an effective training lay down. 

Bonus: Using Storytelling For More Effective Training – Sharon Lucas

Sharon Lucas, President of CDT3 Training, has a wealth of experience in making training more memorable and impactful by incorporating storytelling. She highlights that by making greater use of stories, organisations can deliver training that employees will actually remember when it counts. We caught up with Sharon to examine why and how organisations can leverage storytelling.

Storytelling enables the content to come alive, the brain thinks in stories, so it is a natural way to draw in the learner.  Using a story engages the learner in the content in a way that the learner can envision themselves either experiencing or doing the behaviour that is being discussed.

Read the rest of Sharon’s thoughts here.