HOW TO CONDUCT A NEEDS ASSESSMENT
STEP 1: Identify the Problem/ Need
The starting point for formulating a strategy is to find out what the business is all about. What is the service they wish to provide for the community? What are their short and long term goals? How do they envision their business to look and function upon completion of the training? Once a clear understanding by all parties is established the design of the training can be set into motion.
A crucial part of this is to have the business evaluate the financial profits and losses; what their mistakes are costing them. (Desired Outcome – Current Outcome = Identifying the Need). Also, what is the reason behind the low performance? Does the staff know what is required of them? Has the business provided them with the education required to perform their best? Have they provided them with the necessary tools and resources?
The whole direction once the need has been identified is making sure the training covers what type of performance from employees is required; these must be achievable, realistic and ‘fixable’. For example, the customer relations team’s training should result in fewer complaints.
STEP 2: Determine the Needs Assessment Design
To gain an in depth understanding of what truly the cause of the problem is, the business must use its time and resources to their full capacity. Varying techniques to put into play will include interviews, questionnaires, documentation analysis and through pure observation. Each problem may need to undergo one or many of the data collecting methods.
STEP 3: Data Collection
There are varying amount of methods available to ensure a successful needs analysis:
- Attitude surveys
- Tests of proficiency
- Organizational statements and plans
- Turnover records
- Performance appraisals
- Procedures, handbooks and audits
- Training evaluations
- Exit interviews
- Samples of work
- Job descriptions
- Complaints, error rates and rejects
- Call reports, incident reports and grievances
- Trade, government and business publications
Observation is one of the most successful data collection methods when used correctly. This is simply the observing of a qualified person to “observe” the business in its everyday tasks. One way they gather information is thru surveys and questionnaires within the business. Another way is by finding out how outsider ‘shoppers’ feel about the business’ current performance either telephonically or face to face. Another is by “mystery shopping” where they pretend to be a potential buyer and take notice of certain behaviours portrayed by the employee. The general friendliness; how they are initially welcomed and the level of knowledge of the product.
STEP 4: Analyse Data
Data analysis can be executed in two ways:
This technique is designed to gather information into categories and identify different themes. This can be done by open ended questionnaires; group and individual interviews.
This must be kept simple. It can be done by instrument analysis and close – ended surveys. The aim is to gather statistical information.
Once this has been done, the results can direct the business into what type of training is needed. The training chosen must be sure to address the issue; it can be done either by holding workshops; at home; on the job; computer based or a combination.
STEP 5: Provide Feedback
The final step after collecting data, analysing which are the problem areas and designing a training program suited it is vital that the conclusions and suggested course of action be communicated to key personnel. There are different ways to do this but always be sure to present the findings in a positive light. On way this can be done is;
THE WRITTEN REPORT
It is important to lay out the report in an easy to understand format including with this the conclusions and findings. Always be sure to include within the report the following elements:
· Executive Overview:
Limiting this abbreviated but concise overview of the full document to one page to be presented to the key members.
· Description of the Process:
This entails the processes which lead to the findings, including related background information. Explaining all the steps to be taken in the needs assessment.
· Summary of Findings:
This is where all the gathered data is presented in an easy to understand and concise way.
· Preliminary Conclusion:
Make sure all involved have a clear understanding as to the findings, focusing on the key issues and how they relate to the problems being addressed.
This is the area where you give your where, when, how and who solutions. When should the training commence? Who is to be included? Where and how the training will commence? Make sure that your suggestions are flexible, each one with different options.
· Potential Barriers:
By having different options to each solution will enable you to be proactive to any barriers brought up by the business. Be sure to include cost, time efficiency, time commitment required by employers and their staff for each option.
ASSESSING PARTICIPANTS KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS & ATTITUDE
Once you have received permission to commence training the last step you need to take is to assess the knowledge, attitude and skills of each participant prior to each session. Remember, each one has a different role to play within the business so each one has different needs and it is vital to address these to ensure the smooth running of the training.