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Training Needs Analysis

In this article, we look at a Training Needs Analysis (or Assessment). What is a TNA, and why should you use one?

A Training Needs Analysis, or Training Needs Assessment (TNA), is a process by which you can identify what training is required and who needs it. The more effort you put into a TNA, the more effective your training programme is likely to be.

Let's say your business is upgrading all its computers and you need to organise some Microsoft Office training. You could set up a series of standard training courses for all employees to attend, and then decide who attends which session simply by each person's availability or department. But there is a better way that is likely to yield better results...

Consider how much better it would be if you identified what the desired end result is, and could determine how far each employee was from that ideal. You could then work out if you needed different training sessions for different groups. If that sounds complicated, keep reading - it's really quite simple.

For example, if you knew that 23 employees were quite competent with Excel and just wanted a quick overview of the changes between say, Excel 2010 and Excel 2016 – but there was another group of 8 employees who had never used Excel and would prefer an introductory session, you would know that you should be looking for at least two different training courses, and who should attend which session.

Not only that, but if you ask the right questions, you could identify which features different employees need training on, and then get your training provider to tailor the course content to meet those exact requirements.

Sending employees on training sessions where they each learn what's relevant to them will keep your staff happy and enable them to learn far more. Put yourself in the shoes of a complete beginner at Excel who gets grouped with a bunch of others who are already very familiar with Excel. It would be virtually impossible to keep up – and they're likely to be too embarrassed to ask all the questions they need to.

Alternatively, what about the advanced Excel user who gets grouped with a bunch of beginners? They're likely to become bored and frustrated at the pace of the course. All of this will reflect in the employee's satisfaction with the training, and worse still in their performance going forward.

The benefits are clear. It's better for your business and your employees if everyone gets the training that's right for them – and how else are you going to achieve that without a training needs analysis? Here's a few suggestions for how to do a simple TNA:

TNA's can be a lot more involved and complex than the example given above – especially in the context of planning employees' personal development, but in many cases that's not necessary. Using a simple approach like that described above is often all you need to improve the effectiveness and success of your training project.

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