4 responses to “The Training Needs Assessment Disconnect”

  1. Hello Mr. Shaw:

    I am a student at Roosevelt University chasing after a Masters in Training and Development. Thank you for your solidly spoken blog. I was cheerring when I came across your comments “the training is intended for the company–not me, personally. I get it. But shouldn’t it be? I do the work. The training should be part of my portfolio just as my education and work experience.” and “training is rarely viewed as an opportunity to succeed, but rather a way of increasing productivity. Fair enough for business sake, but lousy for personnel retention.” I can relate as I was at my former employer for 14 years. I usually put forth a positive effort, remained supportive and approachable but became increasingly marginalized. In one performance eval I told my manager I was beginning to feel like an old Clydesdale tied to a fence post just clomping my hoof. She acknowledged she did need to provide more challenging experiences for me. In my opinion, I think that employers are afraid to invest any substantial effort in retaining good long term employees as they are fearful that we would leave anyway and it is easier and less expensive to bring in new hires despite the cost of training new employees.

    I appreciate your comment, “here’s the way to keep me. Train me for the next job when I’ve mastered this one, or train me for another if this doesn’t look like it’s the best fit. I’m good for something. You invested time and money when you hired me. Help me help you give it back.”

    Now if we could only figure out a way to have them listen –

  2. Mr. Shaw

    I am a graduate student in Training and Development and have studied effective needs assessments as part of the training process. That said, I don’t have a ton of experience in this area from the perspective of a trainer- only as an employee who receives the training.

    I agree that the WIIFM focus should be present from the beginning. I also agree that training programs should focus on the needs of the participants to ensure proper learning transfer. We learn the important needs of adult learners in our program. Namely that adults need to know how new knowledge can fit into their lives and how it will benefit them before they even open themselves up to learn it.

    My first thought when I read this piece was the rise of informal learning in the workplace vs. formal learning. If a Web 2.0 learning tool like a training blog or LMS was in place a training program might use information (hits on certain postings or ratings of information on a LMS) to focus training to meet employee needs more effectively. Then a needs analysis might be shorter (yay!!!) and be more insightful. This would be a more effective way to start, right?

    Thanks for a smart and thoughtful post!


  3. Thanks, Mark. I hadn’t heard the WIIFM term in long time, but bringing it back made me smile. I think what happens is that we get caught up in the work aspects of what we do and we forget the basics sometimes. This happens to salespeople who are given a proven pitch, but forget to tailor it to who they are giving it to. I think we learn the tools and much of the rest is learned in practice, but habit takes over. Some of this communication doesn’t fit well in a classroom curriculum, but is necessary in the “informal” training world, but even the formal training world must incorporate some aspects of it or the training becomes an exercise in futility.

    I have always liked the idea of discussion as being a way to learn so the idea of blogging and posting comments definitely appeals to me. And why not use a blog like this or a similar blog to generate discussion in the classroom? That’s a little more VLE.

    I think your idea for needs assessment is a good one, and yes, I think it would be a great way to start.

Translate »