Home Learning & Development TRAINING NEEDS ANALYSIS – (TNA)


OPINION PIECE: Uzair Hassan, CEO, 3h Solutions Group


Training, without understanding its need, relevance, applicability or accountability, is futile. Thus, a full-scale Training Needs Analysis is carried out to understand the specific requirements.

There are many ways to look at this critical aspect of staff development. Get this wrong and the entire process / effort / budget is wasted.

Training itself can be either about creating manual dexterity or cognitive ability or explaining process flows or future proofing or resource based or motivational or to support strategic organizational direction or task based or aspirational (gap based) or, behavioral change based or It can be skill based, knowledge based or attitude based. The deployment of initiatives linked to staff development can be as complex as the basis on which they are created.

Needs analysis is a tricky subject, and perceived differently by different people. For the bosses / line managers, they assume they know what is needed. The people to be developed think they know what they need. Management knows best and the training department has their own ideas. For all these to converge, effectively, a 360 degree look at the actual needs must be conducted. Training needs of the people, must be in the context of organizational objectives to be achieved.

It is the single most critical step in enhancing staff abilities / performance / competencies. It is like diagnosing a patient. If misdiagnosed, the resultant treatment is worthless.

Some sample approaches / methods for TNA:

1)    Organizational strategy-based future competency requirements
2)    Hiring – Job description competencies tested, shortfalls collated
3)    Succession planning – Gaps
4)    Change management requirements
5)    Individuals own needs: Their challenges / job or task related issues etc.
6)    Focus groups
7)    Problem area assessments (Customer service / Sales / Teamwork / Conflicts / Leadership / Time management / Communication or presentation skills etc.)
8)    Organizational Values based (e.g. Empathy / Empowerment etc. etc.)
9)    Customer surveys to bring out potential challenges
10) 360 Assessments / Feedback
11) Generic minimum standards for soft skills (e.g. Presentation skills / Negotiation skills / Sales and customer service skills / IT skills etc.)
12) Tests
13) TNA questionnaires
14) Work sampling
15) Performance problem charting
16) Currently needed competencies – Gaps with current competencies
17) Appraisals: Uncovering gaps
18) KPI evaluation shortfalls
19) External bench-marking
20) Mentor feedback
21) Talent Management / HIPO gaps
22) Performance management issues / gaps
23) Employee surveys (Self assessments / self requirements / self doubts etc.)
24) Benchmark market structures / requirements / methodologies
25) Career progression charts
26) SWOT analysis
27) Direct observation
28) BPO (Business process Re-engineering) based
29) Business objectives based
30) Knowledge / Skill / Attitude based

The above is by no means a definitive list. It simply provides an idea about the myriad ways that exist to exact a TNA.

The idea is to view training needs analysis not as a singular one-dimensional outcome-based exercise, but to see it through the prism of the context itself.

A 360++ view, a structured approach and an inclusive /diversified assessment is required.

Stakeholders across this broad divide need to be engaged, to ensure their voices are heard and their input is taken into account. A multi-pronged and layered approach. Singular perspectives can highjack a TNA, and thus, a cross functional, broader pool of potential stakeholders and a deeper dive is required.

To effectively and deeply diagnose, not simply to develop a heat map by aggregating multiple approaches but to do a deep dive and get to the heart of the matter.

What complicates it further are personal ambitions, political camps, perspective clashes and vested interests. Then comes the delivery vehicle choices, the time to be spent on each subject, the implementation strategies involved, the accountability of the process and success criteria for the initiatives, culturally sensitive choices etc. etc. This then needs to be aligned with organizational objectives, budgetary constraints (if any), business / stakeholder buy-in, resource allocations etc. etc. A substantial undertaking if done right.

Keep in mind that not all gaps / challenges can be solved via training. It could be a will problem and not a skill problem. It could be a process-oriented issue and not an attitude issue. It could be a workload challenge that may not be solved via training and so on.

But, what comes first and plays a pivotal part in it’s success, is the diagnosis itself. Without effective deep-dive diagnosis, everything else undertaken based on incorrect data, would be futile.

Author: Uzair Hassan uzair.hassan@3hsolutions.biz


This article is part of the MEA HR Contributor Series. The author is an expert in their field and contributes to MEA HR & Learning. We are honored to feature and promote their contribution on our website. Please note that the author is not employed by MEA HR and the opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect official views or opinions of MEA HR.