This is the fourth in this new series of blogs called “Walk this way”, where I am inviting you, the reader, to follow my view on what a good approach to learning would look like.
This time we will look at the 4th step – “A good needs analysis leads to a solid evaluation and appropriate design“.
Some of you may be thinking “Why has she said ‘needs analysis‘ and not ‘training needs analysis‘ or ‘learning needs analysis‘?” So in a nutshell:
- Training Needs Analysis – the solutions are always going to be training solutions
- Learning Needs Analysis – though the solutions may be broader, they will always be about learning
- Needs Analysis – the solutions may be training, learning or the analysis may uncover an organisational need unrelated to learning (e.g. poor process)
A needs analysis goes much deeper. For it to go deeper, you need to ask questions that go beyond the normal “what do they need to know, or be able to do, by the end?“. Questions like:
- What stops them doing a good job?
- What resources do they still need?
- Is there a system or process that could be improved?
If you do a good needs analysis, it leads to a good, or ‘meaningful’ evaluation. Which means that the business sees the value in what is delivered. You can only do a good needs analysis if you understand how the organisation works and have some understanding of both the structure and the culture. This goes beyond the traditional remit of what an L&D professional has traditionally needed to be. Curiously, the CIPD L&D Survey from 2015 reported that only 25% of organisations could say that L&D were extremely aligned to the needs of the business. Surely this should be higher?
If you can start with the end in mind, this does not mean ignoring short-term performance but rather using this to guide towards, and to reinforce, long-term objectives. This is what the “end in mind” means. To get to that end requires much more involvement, but by delivering real business results L&D will certainly get the attention of the business. Linking to hard business metrics, L&D can position itself as an important strategic business asset rather than just a training department. Aligning L&D to the business will have many benefits.
If you do a thorough needs analysis, focussed on the business, the design of any learning, will be more appropriate to the organisation taking into account:
- Current levels of skill and knowledge
- Time and place for learning
- How the learners will be supported back in the workplace to imbed the learning
This is the fourth blog in a series of six.
“Walk this way” – the whole blog series.
©Krystyna Gadd 2016