Researching through the cardinal requirements of a training would need you to put on your Sherlock Holmes hat! Before we begin to determine why a training program is needed or has been requested, we need to identify whether the training is needed or not. When instructional designers put on the Sherlock Holmes hat, they often over-estimate their training needs analysis strategies. Let me put it this way: a training needs analysis is NOT a course needs or instruction needs analysis. In fact, a course/instruction needs analysis is a subset of a training needs analysis. This article will be a much-needed refresher for any instructional designer (and of course a training needs analyst).
A fantastic analogy that comes to mind is very hard not to understand! Think of an amazing recipe you saw on a cooking show. You instantly had the urge to try it. You run to the store to complete the ingredient list. You even insist on the finest and the freshest produce. You lay out the items, ready to cook. You follow the recipe on the YouTube Channel of the cooking show. You are confident you got the process and procedure right. But when you sit down with family to enjoy the fruits of your labour, you are not happy! Something definitely went wrong.
Let’s examine from a needs analysis perspective.
Skills - You don’t lack anywhere in your cooking skills.
Attitude - You enjoy cooking.
Knowledge – The recipe was demonstrated accurately over the YouTube Channel. You can follow the recipe well.
Despite having the right knowledge, skills and attitude – the heart of any training program, your results were not desirable. The entrée’ you worked on was not enjoyable by you and your family.
Let’s look at this gap from the objectives perspective.
The goal of the cooking activity was to create a dish that is as appealing as it looked on the cooking show.
In the A-B-C-D (Audience, Behaviour, Conditions, Degree) format, this would translate into:
The chef (audience) will cook (behaviour) an appealing entree with the aid of a cooking show video (conditions) that is delicious (degree).
Anything less than delicious, is a failure.
Does that mean a training program is needed?
Maybe, but not definitely.
There is a good possibility that a procedure within the cooking went wrong. Perhaps more than one steps were not carried out accurately. Maybe the timing for a particular step was off.
In a training needs analysis, we hope to uncover such training and non-training issues. Observations, interviews, examining internal and external resources, speaking with SME and the line managers are the best ways to kick-start the need analysis procedure.
Once gaps like these are uncovered, we know exactly how to customize the training.
Without the needs analysis efforts, the training produced is generic. It fails to correct the pre-existing knowledge, improve the current skills and modify the undesirable behaviours.
Once you have uncovered the factors that are impacting/hindering the current performance, you are ready to design instruction for training.
Understanding the training objectives is like reviewing the course curriculum. Its like a roadmap with navigation. Without which, your instruction design efforts would fail to transfer training to performance. Map your instruction goals with the training goals to create effective training that trains in less time and yields better results.