This was originally posted on eLearning Industry November 4, 2019
The Role Of Needs Analyses In Training Design
In every company, employee training and development is an essential part of improving performance and pushing toward overarching business goals. It’s easy enough to build training content for a new initiative, but you may be wasting project hours unless you find a way to clearly translate your company goals into training goals.
Start With The Strategic Goals
Before starting a project, begin with the end result and the business objectives in mind. Training goals should be informed by a firm understanding of the underlying organizational goals and business objectives. By contextualizing your design strategy this way, the training goals you develop will naturally stem from the company’s strategic goals.
Most employees are completely unaware of their company’s goals. A study by Achievers found that 61% of employees surveyed did not know their company mission, 60% did not know the company vision, and 61% of employees did not know their organization’s cultural values . Obviously, these messages of goals, mission, and values aren’t being conveyed through training content.
To make measurable changes, employees must understand their company’s strategic goals and mission. “The goal is to calibrate the training to the business impact, and the vital component of this is for learners to demonstrate a measurable change,” explained Jeff Martin, a performance consultant at AllenComm.
Why You Need A Needs Analysis
A needs analysis will help you identify the business impact and the necessary learner transformations. By asking a few key questions, you can pinpoint how a training program can be more aligned with strategic outcomes:
- What change does the company want to see in employees?
- What training will allow employees to gain the skills and habits that will enable them to reach a learner transformation?
- What will it look like when the learner knows the desired skills and habits?
- What do the desired skills and habits look like on the job?
However, an evaluation of employee performance only tells you where your employees are right now. You also need to identify what the business impact is and identify how to create the desired learner transformations. Human behavior is a nuanced study, so understanding the underlying environmental conditions, cognitions, and motivations requires lots of data gathering. This is most often accomplished through interviews, surveys, observations, and assessments.
What Does Performance Mapping Do?
A successful performance map does more than outline your current state and ideal future state. It connects business goals to performance objectives and further maps those objectives to tangible behaviors. This is critical for translating company goals into training goals. By addressing the skills, knowledgebase, motivational factors, and critical thinking practices around key performance objectives, you can ensure your training has an impact on the business.
Evaluating an employee’s performance is a natural place to start the performance mapping process. Martin suggests you “identify employee missteps and motivations so you’re better equipped to provide support and guidance.”
Building Robust Training With Change Healthcare
Martin offered some insight into the importance of needs analyses with the example of the employee training program AllenComm developed for Change Healthcare. Their online training had been in place for a year, but they wanted to deepen the Learner Experience and make it more robust. The learning team from AllenComm used learner feedback to get a detailed representation of the current Learner Experience. “It was important to make sure that the learners were heard and at the center of it all,” he said.
Change Healthcare worked with AllenComm to identify competencies for which learners needed to be skilled. Based on a needs analysis, Change Healthcare decided on nine of the competencies that would make the most impact on their business goals. Martin identified the business impact, the learner transformations, and performance catalysts that would lend to the greatest solution, then proceeded to create a map to success. The performance map became a custom competency framework from which AllenComm then developed a custom training curriculum to meet Change Healthcare’s unique needs.
The solution included realistic training scenarios wherein the learner would make recommendations and identify what could go wrong based on their decisions. They were also prompted to consider how they could encourage others to behave according to their code of conduct and why it would be important to do so. The employee missteps collected earlier in the needs analysis process were also used in the scenarios to make a more realistic decision-making model. These scenarios enabled employees to practice making choices around a realistic challenge in a safe, training environment.
Martin explained that at the end of the learner journey it was important to be able to have metrics for the learners’ transformation. If your training design begins with a strategy around your business goals and performance objectives, then the process of measurement is much easier. More importantly, your stakeholders will be much happier if you can connect training to tangible performance improvements.
References: Achievers Research