Summary: Some of the needs you may uncover during your assessment are related directly to the industry, the jobs within the organization, and the tasks within those jobs. Let’s look at these needs and how to assess them.

When you begin your organizational needs assessment, you’ll find that many of the needs you discover are related to the overall industry and the jobs within the organization. This information can certainly overload you if you are looking at the organization’s training needs as whole. So the best way to tackle these needs is to break them down based on industry, job, and task. Let’s define each area and then look at some of the best ways to assess needs in those areas.

First, industry related needs are fairly simple but can be hard to narrow down for your training program. Are there certain pieces of industry knowledge that employees should have, both as a whole and by department? If so, this type of knowledge is sometimes based on the premise that people should know how they fit into the big picture, both at the organizational and industry levels. The need for this knowledge may also stem from the need to understand how the organization itself fits into the overall industry. For example, a manufacturing group that creates parts for commercial airliners may need to know where those parts go, what airplanes they end up on, and how those airplanes and the company that builds them affect the industry itself. When you are looking at industry-related knowledge, remember to keep it to the “need to know” information, versus the “nice to know”. If you have both, you’ll end up swamping your audiences with knowledge that does not apply directly to them.

Next, job related needs are self-explanatory: they relate directly to the jobs within the organization. One of the best ways to look for job-related needs is to determine if training exists for certain jobs or job families. If not, you may have to create “A to Z” training for a job. We will discuss assessment methods in a moment, but remember that the purpose of job-related needs assessment is to determine the final outputs of the job itself, whether it is a completed call with a customer or the production of a 100% error-free commercial airliner part. The key to job-related needs is to determine what can be taught as part of a training program, what aspects of the job belong to management, and what aspects of the job may be related to coaching or on-the-job learning.

A task related need is usually a particular part or output within a job or job family. Think about your job: there are many different tasks and processes that come together to create your job on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis. Every job is similar in that aspect. For example, customer service reps may be performing at very high levels in customer satisfaction and sales, but they are having trouble inputting data into the CRM system. This problem may be causing issues with customer contact, the customer’s next logical product, and even recording closed sales. This particular part of the job, or task, should be analyzed to determine where the breakdown occurs. Many times task-related needs occur inside a job or job family where training currently exists – it just may be one of those areas that need to be revamped in order to be more effective.
Let’s briefly examine some of the assessment methods that can help you find needs in these areas quickly and effectively. To begin with, a stakeholder or executive may simply express a perceived industry-related need. For example, the aircraft parts manufacturing CEO may simply decide that all employees need to know how the organization fits into the overall picture. Many times this type of expression may be a bit stronger than a “suggestion” and simply needs to be included in the training program.

When it comes to job related needs, observation and survey may be very effective. For example, if no training currently exists for the customer service reps, you may want to observe them doing their jobs for a few days to determine the tasks within those jobs. In addition, you may want to survey managers and stakeholders to determine what the final output of the jobs should be, such as a certain score on the customer satisfaction survey. However you assess for job-related needs, you may end up at the task level anyway.

At the task level, a process known as task analysis may be the most helpful. In a task analysis, you take your observations of the person doing the job and then break them down into the task areas. For each area, you can determine the individual tasks, such as then determine its frequency. From there, you can determine which tasks have more importance by their frequency as well as which tasks will require more detailed knowledge. Finally, you can determine if adequate training exists on each task and task area.

Next, we will look at career development related needs.

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