The Training Needs Assessment Disconnect

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    Is training being offered in a way that makes it beneficial to employees besides just keeping their jobs?

    After 20 minutes, I nearly finished a 25-page online needs assessment for my organization before I clicked the last page and submitted it–disgusted that I had wasted my time. The survey asked me what I needed to do my job. It asked me if what was offered did the job. Is there some other form of training I might be more likely to benefit from? I found the list of topics interesting, mostly relevant to any job, but, for the most part, for someone in my situation–pointless.

    There lies the disconnect. Training is still not offered in any meaningful way that makes me want to do my job better. I do it well. We all can benefit from more knowledge–certainly specific knowledge of our jobs–but the why is usually because it is in the best interest in the company. For any training to be beneficial it must be desired; it must have a purpose and a reason to be delivered. What is the end result? How do participants benefit–if they cannot see the benefits of their employment, or their personal development?

    It makes employees want to scream: “Leave me alone!” Filling out 25 pages of forms feels like I’m helping someone draft an attractive curricula, not training intended for me.

    Then, the next day, I had to sit in a conference call meeting discussing the same needs assessment, but this turned out to be a discussion in which employees expressed concerns about how outside hires shouldn’t be allowed the training because it would give them an unfair advantage over the agency employees. In other words, once the contract was over, the outside hires could use that training on the outside. Bugger!

    Set me on a path of success and I’ll work hard, looking toward a positive future for the company and for me.

    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. You know that I will put it on my resume for my next job interview, which is where I am going if I feel any less appreciated because right now people think I can no longer do my job.

    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’m out of the office training,” says the voice-mail. The tone of voice says I’d rather be working or anywhere but here.

    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 get the most out of your investment.

    I have seen very little reward offered for taking extra training–let alone the extra time out of the office or plant. If anything, I have seen more bosses and colleagues upset that people are in training instead of at their place of work. In training for what? Usually, just to do their jobs better, or it’s legal thing and we all have to do it. Is that good to me? Sell me on it. If we all have to do, let’s do it together at one time–if we can. Make it fun–if we can. We have to do it so that makes us a team. The alternative is doing it online (snore) or web cast (also snore).

    All of us want to be productive; some of us want to be the “go-to” guy or gal; some of us even want to be boss one day. Put us on a development track where to succeed in training is a good thing. Maybe we don’t have the jobs at the moment, but times change, and we can be ready to fill them with people who have worked to gain the right knowledge to get there.

    Get rid of the needs assessment disconnect. Make a training plan that works for the individual, not just the company. It might just mean the employee and company can live happily ever after. But that’s just me. If you have comments or questions on the subject, let’s start a dialogue.

    For more resources about training, see the Training library.

    In my book, The Cave Man Guide to Training and Development, I talk about how the idea of training and development began in the cave, how we learned what we know today from the cave men and women who were motivated by survival. Only our organization’s survival is at stake today, not our lives. Imagine what problem solving training issues might have looked like in the cave council. The only difference would be the campfires to keep the cave warm.

    These are my words and opinions. Please feel free to disagree and comment, or contact me. If you’re interested in more of my points of view–my Cave Man way of looking at things, I have a website where you can find other items I have written. For more information on my peculiar take on training, check out my best selling The Cave Man Guide To Training and Development, and for a look at a world that truly needs a reality check, see my novel about the near future, Harry’s Reality! Meanwhile, Happy Training.