10 Training Needs Analysis Tips for Instructional Designers and Trainers

Training and development professionals are often told to stop being order takers. Here are 10 useful tips to help you find the real solution to a performance problem, so you don’t create training programs that aren’t needed over and over again.

  1. When a business unit manager approaches you and says: “I need a 90-minute face-to-face training on [fill-in-the-blank here],” resist the urge to fulfill the request. Instead, say, “We can help you with that. When can we meet to discuss the project?” This gives you a great opportunity to ask more about what the group is doing, and what they will be expected to do after the training.
  2. Seek clarification on the metrics that the manager is using to measure current and desired performance.
  3. If the manager insists that you create and facilitate the requested training, ask if there are any key employees who are already performing at the desired level. If there are, ask what the key employees are doing differently from average employees.
  4. Better yet, find out  if you can interview or observe the key employees in action. This will give you an opportunity to ask questions about the position, the performance challenges, and the knowledge and skills needed for high performance, and to vet the request for training.
  5. If you discover additional barriers to high performance, discuss these with the manager. Do this in a courteous, respectful manner. Ask the manager if, in addition to the desired training, there are plans to mitigate the other performance barriers you have discovered in your analysis.
  6. It is likely that you will get pushback from the manager, so ask the manager if training has been provided in the past for this group. Hopefully, this will help the manager to recall a time when training was not the answer.
  7. Document your discussions about the training request, the analysis results, and your recommendations to help the manager achieve the desired level of performance.
  8. No one wants a training program that does not produce results. If the training department continues to provide training when skills and knowledge are adequate, then training gets a reputation for being ineffective. Requesting managers usually “forget” that they insisted on training when training was not the appropriate intervention to begin with.
  9. If you have to provide the requested training, follow up with the manager a month later to find out how the performers are doing. Ask if there are other obstacles that are getting in the way of the desired performance and if you can help to remove those obstacles.
  10. Training needs-analysis is not a one-time event. Partner with the managers you support so that they come to you for assistance in achieving high performance. Ask performance questions so that you can stop saying, “May I take your order, please?”

About the author:  

Geri is president and principal consultant of Geri Lopker & Associates LLC. Her international client list includes corporations, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and Fortune 100 companies. Geri has been a performance consultant both as an internal area director of operations for a large healthcare agency, and as an external consultant with clients big and small. Geri has more than 20 years of experience working in the areas of systems, finance, change management, leadership, communication, strategic planning, team building, and customer relations.

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