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Dear Workforce What Should I Be Aware Of When Analyzing Training Needs

Dear Unsure:

Companies across different industries have tried many thoughtful approaches and processes to addressing this issue. Generally, needs assessment centers on three important questions.

How are training needs aligned in the context of the overall enterprise strategy?
An information management and services provider set a goal of delivering better customer service and customer relationship management. Many salespeople, although possessing tremendous technical competence, lacked core interpersonal skills. To balance out strategic needs of the business, human resources developed a comprehensive training menu for the entire sales force. The training balanced important relationship-management skills with more technical programs based on using new technologies.

How is training balanced with other variables in the overall employee value proposition?
The core of any professional development and overall corporate strategy is a clear and well-understood employee value proposition. As employers compete for talent, the value of training can be an important lever in attracting and retaining talent, even in a down economy. Understanding training’s importance to employees–especially in the context of other variables like compensation, benefits, affiliation, work content, career path, and work-life balance–can help you make more informed decisions. During the past year, in the midst of slashed salaries, withheld bonuses, and layoffs, several organizations used training as an important component in offering value to employees. It has helped them keep employees motivated and on target with career goals.

How can training be linked to what is expected in terms of employee performance?
Perhaps the most important consideration in a training needs analysis is to first look at how employees are measured and evaluated. In most organizations, what gets measured and compensated gets results. Evaluating relative performance against performance measures is a necessary variable in allocating training resources.

A great example of this in action involves a financial exchange that revised its performance management program two years ago to include competency-based management. As part of last year’s professional development program, managers invested a disproportionate amount of training resources in shoring up core competencies. It provided blended learning programs per level to close competency gaps. As a result, managers were able to prescribe career-development paths for each employee, leading to a more balanced and competent workforce.

Conducting a training-needs analysis does not need to follow one process or standard. At the same time, it can not stem only from trade shows, the latest product invention, or HR responding to random needs from line managers. Ultimately, like many other organizational development and business planning processes, it needs to be driven by a company’s strategy and value proposition, and reinforced by a performance and rewards program. If done well, it can reinforce an organization’s competitive advantage and help it negotiate even the toughest cycles of the economy.

SOURCE: Matthew Levin, organizational development consultant, Chicago, Illinois. MattCLev@aol.com

LEARN MORE: Read Chief Learning Officers Link Training and Business Goals.

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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