Techniques for Collecting Data for Training Needs Assessment

The process of needs assessment happens at three stages or levels, the organisational, the job and the person or the individual. This is the basis for any needs assessment survey and remains the same more or less in all organisations around the globe. There are however many techniques for collecting the data for training need analysis. This article discusses some of the methods used for the same.

The needs assessment conducted at various stages tries to answer a different set of questions. Organisational analysis, for example, aims at the ‘where in the organisation’ of the training. Person analysis similarly attempts to decipher the question of ‘Whom in the organisation’. There are therefore various instruments or techniques that are used to collect data for the analysis at each stage.

Techniques for Collecting data at Organisational Level

As discussed already, in organisational analysis we try to ascertain the areas in the organisation that require training interventions. For example, among the various kinds of interventions that organisations chose it was found out managerial training is picking up fast among corporations and also that managerial competencies amount for 98% of success in the jobs.

Personnel and skill inventories, organisational climate and efficiency indices, Management requests, Exit interviews, management by objectives (MBO) are the various kinds of techniques that are used at the level of organisational analysis for collecting data for training needs analysis.

Essentially all these tools collect data that is inferential in nature, but does not give a clear picture of the training needs. For example, the above mentioned tools may lead an organisation to deduce that ‘there is a need for aligning the work processes with the organisational goals / objectives’, which is not very rich diagnostically. It may require further analysis, which is done with the help of tools at the level of Job or the task.

The techniques for data collection at the level of the job include job description, performance standards, work sampling, job specifications, job literature analysis, and analysis of operational problems among others. These techniques are aimed at extracting data for understanding the target of training i.e. what exactly should be taught in training. Time management may be may be one critical intervention in project handling / management.

These techniques at the level of job are useful but yet not sufficient in helping understand who requires training and when. Taking the above example further, time management may be a critical intervention for Projects people, but there may already be some who are very efficient in time management and may require the intervention at other level, which is only possible to ascertain with the help of techniques used at the level of the individual or the person.

Training may prove worthless if it is conducted without studying individual data. Every member in a team is unique and works as well as performs at a certain level (n). There may be others who are at (n+1) or (n-1) or more. Thus, the same intervention may halt the progress of a certain individual and finally the organisation. There are therefore certain tools that help in deciding interventions at the individual level. Performance appraisal data, questionnaires, attitude surveys, 360 degree feedback, assessment centres, critical incidents are some techniques that are employed to a good benefit.

All these techniques are integral to the success of any training program. Although each one of these may be used independently but the combined use offers a holistic view of training within an organisation!

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