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Can you suggest any practical TNA methods?


Our management says that the usual TNA that we perform is too theorectical and too academic, and not "down to earth". May I ask T&D experts and TNA experts as to what other methodology they used to measure training needs besides the conventional questionaires, job and task analysis or focus group interviews.

I look forward to helpful replies. Please add suggestions to Comments below.


Tony Phua

4 Responses

  1. Training Needs Analysis
    There is nothing more practical than good theory. I suspect however the use of the word theory in a derogatory sense is borne of either ignorance or of a belief that the methods adopted lack “ecological validy”—that is are too far removed from actual practice to be valid methods.

    The methods you use however can hardly be criticised from an ecological validity standpoint. That leaves ignorance.

    That said, my own experience in conducting large scale TNA studies leads me to believe that a major danger is not recognising that training requires to be future oriented. Thus an analysis needs to take account of trends and changes in the workplace, plus the future aims of the organisation. Merely articulating current roles and task and designing training to fit is vastly inadequate for most sector of the economy,

    Thus, I would normally advise starting with a strategy workshop for senior managers aimed at articulate future requirements over an agreed time period, and from there the task is to analyse needs based both on current gaps and future demands….but this may be too “theoretical”. Perhaps your managers want something which precludes the need to think, and sets aside the need for accuracy. Making life easy is often attractive, but ultimately doomed to making the future more difficult.

  2. A ‘simple’ TNA
    Having run my own business for almost 20 years and now in teaching I can understand the need for a simple TNA.
    At a basic level I teach managers the following technique:
    Each person in an organisation has a ‘job’ and each job can be broken down into several smaller and more manageable tasks.
    Using a matrix, spreasdsheet or database list each task of the job in separate columns and identify them as task 1, task 2 ect. the following skill levels could apply: 0, no knowledge; 1, some knowledge; 2 can perform the task with supervision; and 4, can perform the task to standard without supervision.

    The number 4 indicates NO training is required. Any other number shows up a training requirement.

    Leave the first left hand column for names of individuals.

    This information will not only show you training needs and skill levels but will also show you who can share someone’s job when they are absent.

    There are similar and more complex TNAs available but I think you will find this adequate for most organisation’s needs.

    Let me know if you need more help with this or training in general.

  3. TNA reference
    Refer to by Bartram and Gibson, Gower. An excellent book with very practical tips

  4. Do it differently
    Most senior managers want quick results rather than drawn our processes. Interviews, questionnaires and so on are the traditional way for sure, but if you want a different reaction from the chief, you must do it differently. Get cross functional groups together of various levels and use the process called PinPoint to get a real view about real needs – now. This active, visual and creative process gets real ‘buy in’ at all levels. At the same time you can inform of future strategies and the likely attitudes/skills required – these needs can be addressed as on-going learning. You can do this with groups sizes of 10-100. And that quick effort is what the chief wants – the budgets will follow!


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