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Online workshop report: Training Needs Analysis


This is the transcript from the online workshop on Training Needs Analysis held on Tuesday 16 January.

Stephanie Phillips Hi Mike, Liz. We'll just wait a few more minutes before we get started.

Liz Hi.

Stephanie Phillips Hi Christine - we'll get started in a couple of minutes.

Stephanie Phillips Hi Rachel - just waiting to see whether there are any more takers before we get going.

Rachel Partridge ok.

Stephanie Phillips Okay, welcome all. Can we begin with introductions - who you are and what you'd like to get out of the session.

Stephanie Phillips (hi Kay, Kylie - just starting with introductions now).

Stephanie Phillips I'm the editor for TrainingZONE, a training officer in a former life!

Carrol Rowe Hi, p-time editor for TrainingZONE and freelance IT Trainer.

Mike Sampson I'm a senior trainer with BSG currently
conducting a TNA for a client.

Rachel Partridge Hi, I am Information & Administration Officer for a Voluntary Sector Project involved with training. I want to know more about training needs analysis as I have to write a guide for voluntary organisations.

Kay Reynolds Hi I'm Training & Development Manager looking to simplify what I currently do.

Joe Espana Good afternoon everyone, who's the moderator today?

Liz I am on a 3 month placement initially in the teaching & learning dept. at Uni. of Luton, as a staff developer.

Stephanie Phillips Joe, I am.

Kylie Baxter Hi, I'm Information Officer for a Law School and responsible for staff and student training.

Stephanie Phillips Joe and Phil, we're just doing
introductions - do join in!

Joe Espana Hi everyone, I'm MD of Human Equations, an independent consultancy. We do a lot of work with clients around TNA and evaluation.

Phil Hello, Phil Williams...currently freelance IT systems developer, beginning training to become a trainer...every little bit helps.

Stephanie Phillips Okay, thanks all for your background info. We planned this session to discuss TNA techniques, focus of development needs and gathering effective information, together with some thoughts on ensuring buy-in and what sort of systems work when
using the TNA process.

Liz I would like some thoughts on ideas I've had about TNA from more experienced people - are that valid, etc. Yes, gathering effective information, that's what I would like to start with.

Stephanie Phillips Okay, let's start with that Liz.

Liz OK.

Stephanie Phillips Gathering effective info has a lot to do with deciding what you need in the first place, doesn't it?

Liz My first thought would be to go to the clients and have a fairly informal unstructured chat - make a 'home visit'.

Joe Espana I suppose one of the most often quoted questions we get is "where do you start"? Our answer is, it depends where you want to finish. I know this sounds a bit obvious, but it does help an awful lot with the data gathering and deciding on how to gather the information.

Stephanie Phillips Liz, are you looking at TNAs for
individuals or for bigger groups of people? The bigger the group, the more difficult it's going to be to co-ordinate it all!

Kylie Baxter My 'clients' gave me very little information about what they wanted to know about staff/student needs, so I had to start from scratch.

Liz A big group but subdivided into smaller groups.

Stephanie Phillips Okay, so what sorts of things are you asking them?

Liz Nothing yet.

Stephanie Phillips Is it business related, or self-
development, or both?

Rachel Partridge So clear aims are important - know what you are setting out to achieve.

Liz But it is about implementing computer mediated learning in higher education..

Stephanie Phillips Rachel - yes, it's got to be. If you're relating it to the organisations aims, ideally these should all lead back from any learning you plan.

Stephanie Phillips Joe, any thoughts on this?

Kylie Baxter Are there useful questions that you could ask yourself (or other people) to kick-start the process?

Joe Espana Deciding on the delivery mechanism (i.e. CBT) before a clear identification of needs is a little like putting the cart before the horse.

Stephanie Phillips Kylie - I think it's important that people know why you want them to develop in the workplace - aims and objectives, etc.

Joe Espana If the need is to determine how to implement CBT a better question is to ask "Why that"? How will it help performance here?

Liz a case study from a similar organisation perhaps, to start with?

Carrol Rowe Is CBT the only training option?

Rachel Partridge Sorry - what is CBT?

Stephanie Phillips Liz - I think you could look at that, but you also need to look at your own organisation - what are the key needs in order to take forward the plans for it?

Stephanie Phillips (Rachel - Computer-based training)

Kylie Baxter Stephanie, do you mean to get buy-in from people?

Joe Espana I agree with Carol. Another aspect of this to consider is does that particular method lend itself most appropriately to the learning subjects. e.g. CBT for Interpersonal communications?

Liz The strategic plan.

Mike Samson What if the staff believe they don't require training to improve their role in a particular job?

Stephanie Phillips Yes, the strategic plan - look at that and then drill down.

Liz OK and use imaginative interpretation of the strategic plan.

Stephanie Phillips Mike - a difficult one, that! If you can persuade them that things are changing and you want them to be part of that...

Carrol Rowe Mike - that's when individual TNA's benefit.

Joe Espana Some basic information gathering around strategy is essential. What are the major goals around here? What are the priorities. How well equipped are we to deliver on those goals? Who needs to be developed in what to ensure those goals are achieved?

Stephanie Phillips It can be as simple as deciding that x number of people require training on a new system for starters...

Kylie Baxter I asked staff how satisfied they were with certain skills and want to concentrate on the areas they aren't satisfied with as well as areas the school feels are important. Does that seem appropriate?

Stephanie Phillips What do people think about marrying up individual's own development needs with organisational needs?

Rachel Partridge well someone satisfaction with their skill isn't always the same as it being adequate for the organisation.

Liz I have read that an awful lot of money and effort can be spent on training without any measurable effects..

Stephanie Phillips Kylie, there's a potential conflict for funds if they don't think they need to develop the same skills as you do.

Kylie Baxter There are no funds!

Stephanie Phillips Liz - measuring the effects is a whole new ball game - evaluation!

Joe Espana Liz, to help you practically, one of the things you could do is find out what this years business objectives are? Then ask the managers who are responsible for achieving them whether everyone in their department has all the knowledge, skills and behaviours to contribute to his objectives.

Liz Thanks Joe.

Stephanie Phillips Kylie - okay - funding or time for on-the-job training, maybe? Although that has hidden costs too!

Stephanie Phillips Joe - thanks for spelling that out - having to type a bit quickly to think here!

Kylie Baxter Sorry, it's a good point. Because I've had little support from the organisation about aims and objectives, it's been largely guesswork. Which is why I'm here today...

Stephanie Phillips How about actually monitoring and using the information you collect - does anyone have any thoughts?

Mike Samson Surely if people improve their own skills which are outside their job role they become a more rounded employee - investment for the future.

Stephanie Phillips Mike - yes, definitely - but many
organisations can't afford to think this broadly - or at least they think they can't in the short term...

Carrol Rowe Mike - many organisations won't look at it like that - mainly interested in job related..

Rachel Partridge Monitoring in what way?

Don Williams A point to bear in mind is that all training has a cost. As Trainers we have a responsibility to deliver training as cost effective as is practical.

Stephanie Phillips Rachel - I meant collating the
information, using systems to draw out what you need to know - sorry!

Joe Espana Liz, these sorts of questions give you "NOW" answers to training needs. In other words these business objectives and the skills required are todays. They don't tell you much about future training needs. So the next set of questions you could ask managers should be around what changes in goals, objectives and skills will need to be addressed soonish and how urgent are these.

Liz I have found formal workshops of very limited use for my own training needs.

Carrol Rowe Steph - I have previously created basic access databases and spreadsheets, useful for analysis.

Mike Samson The info needs to be quantified so that training needs can be identified and addressed, at the end of the day there's always a bottom line.

Stephanie Phillips Carrol - me too! Access seemed to work well for me, although I know there are more and more 'learning management systems' on the market now...

Rachel Partridge Gaps in training mapped against personal development need, strategic plan, learning plans, funding time and numbers!! Arghh!

Kylie Baxter I have toyed with online TNA's but it assumes people know how to use forms etc.

Stephanie Phillips Rachel - I sympathise, it's a nightmare task!

Liz for example, a two hour session on, say the record-keeping system of the organisation, might give me information about 20 functions I can use but in the job I'm actually doing I only need 3 of them..
Carrol Rowe If org'ns have limited funding for training, not likely to invest in training systems..

Stephanie Phillips Also can turn into a huge paperchase quite easily...

Rachel Partridge So how do you focus collation?

Joe Espana There is a whole plethora of "ways" to collect information. To help you sort out which way, you need to be asking what is it that I need to find out? Then you can choose the most appropriate method. The delivery of this could be through interview, paper based or indeed computerised. You also have to say to yourself, how do I want to use this information?

Stephanie Phillips My suggestion is that you use Excel or Access and create something simple yourselves.

Kylie Baxter Liz, what about self-paced training using workbooks so people can focus on the aspects they're interested in?

Stephanie Phillips Access is better for allowing queries based on text.

Carrol Rowe Also, tap into help desks if exist within company.

Stephanie Phillips You should be able to sort by type of training required, department etc. if you enter the fields you need first.

Joe Espana I'm very sorry folks but I'm being called away on an urgent call, so I will have to leave this workshop. If anyone wants to discuss this with me directly you can contact me on [email protected].

Joe Espana Good luck everyone.

Liz yes, Kylie they are good, but you need time and peace and quiet to use them.

Liz Bye Joe.

Mike Samson Surely there's more to a TNA than face to face questions and a form?

Stephanie Phillips Thanks Joe - bye!

Rachel Partridge Has anyone found you have to be careful how you 'word' your questions in case you influence the outcome?

Carrol Rowe Mike - depends how involved you want the TNA to be.

Kylie Baxter Agreed. I'm looking at booking sessions for them just to work through what they're interested in with no interruptions. With me on call for questions!

Stephanie Phillips Rachel - I haven't found this to be a problem. You can devolve one-to-one interviews to uncover training needs to managers as long as they know what's expected of them.

Kylie Baxter I found also the order of the questions makes a difference to responses as well.

Stephanie Phillips Mike - it does seem like a very
structured process, but one-to-one sessions can help if you can arrange them (maybe combine with an appraisal review?)

Mike Samson I have found that by the end, the questions have been circulated around the dept so people are prepared.

Liz I think personal contact with individuals is very important.

Kay Reynolds we run our TNA linked to appraisal and it seems to work well?

Stephanie Phillips Kylie - there's always going to be problems with form-filling - look at evaluation!

Stephanie Phillips Kay - I've done the same - it gives people a chance to look back at what they've done and look forward at the same time.

Kylie Baxter Stephanie, have you come across any ideas to minimise problems?

Mike Samson I am planning individual 'tests' where people tackle tasks on their own to see how well they can handle certain features and problems - any thoughts?

Stephanie Phillips Kylie - suggest giving individuals responsibility within a department for overseeing distribution, then keeping in close contact with them.

Stephanie Phillips I'm not sure responses to online
questioning are going to be any more effective, but you could try distribution via e-mail...

Liz How about a roaming staff developer who picks up on people's wishes, searches out the material and delivers an individualised 'minipack' to individuals and small groups?

Don Williams Making questions multi-choice reduces the need to write, but always have a final question space for any other comments..

Stephanie Phillips Liz - nice idea!

Rachel Partridge Sounds like heaven Liz!

Stephanie Phillips I guess you've got to find someone willing.....!

Liz ...because the biggest problem for some at work is finding the time...

Kylie Baxter Stephanie, thanks for the suggestion.

Liz...and doing your own research is so time-consuming..

Stephanie Phillips I don't think one person can do it all themselves, if they've got other responsibilities and more than a few people involved. The administrative work could definitely be shared with someone not necessarily involved in a training role.

Rachel Partridge Can an analysis inform other aspects of an organisations work, other than what training to deliver next?

Stephanie Phillips Rachel - yes, definitely, but only if it's in-depth - I don't think you're going to get people to open up about organisational culture enough using forms..

Stephanie Phillips Okay, any thoughts on planning the training you've identified? That can be a problem in itself!

Kylie Baxter What about led discussion sessions, like this one? Online or in person.

Liz Yes, how do you train someone who has 10 minute lulls here and there in the working day and has to rush immediately to Sainsbury's at 5pm or in the lunch hour?

Kay Reynolds I find sourcing external trainers/consultants for some of the training can be difficult, and unless you want the "standard" course they offer takes time to develop the actual content you want need for your staff/customers.

Stephanie Phillips Kylie - you definitely could do that! This area is available for hire, actually.

Rachel Partridge Surely the training is informed by your organisations strategy towards training.

Carrol Rowe Liz - online learning, e-learning, or CBT (computer based training).

Stephanie Phillips Kay - the much-hyped e-learning has a place here!

Stephanie Phillips Whoops - Carrol beat me to it!

Kylie Baxter Liz, How about personalised e-mail tips, that kind of thing. I've used that before and it worked quite well as people just learned one useful thing at a time.

Stephanie Phillips There's a definite move towards
encouraging people to take responsibility for their own learning - learndirect etc. - a definite culture change needed though for this.

Liz Kylie, that sounds good, personal tip when you
desperately need it.

Mike Samson Unless you get them away from their desks it's difficult to ensure that CBT or online learning is going to be effective the phone will always ring..

Don Williams Absolutely Mike.

Kylie Baxter Part of it is management buy-in to support time away to develop skills, surely?

Stephanie Phillips I think it very much depends on what you want people to learn, in terms of best methods of delivery.

Kylie Baxter If it meets the organisations' objectives etc...

Rachel Partridge If you have a budget you can offer
contributions towards evening classes at local college, encourage individual learning accounts maybe with a employer bonus contribution for taking up relevant training.

Don Williams How do they learn to use the PC in the first place?

Liz Yes a mix of types is needed - workshops/mini-
sessions/courses/one-to-one etc.

Stephanie Phillips Rachel - ILAs are a good idea if you're short of funding - also place the emphasis on the individual.

Stephanie Phillips Don - PC training I guess!

Kylie Baxter What happens if the individuals who need the most help/training aren't motivated/are scared of change etc?

Kay Reynolds Mike, I agree especially in my organisation, even when they are in a totally separate building for training they get called away!!

Don Williams Away from the desk Stephanie?

Stephanie Phillips I know - it doesn't help! I have come across mobile learning centres - just a thought.

Liz I think people showing each other the ropes should be formally recognised and valued as a training method.

Liz That is how we learn most things at work, I think

Kylie Baxter Super-users...Give them a t-shirt, mouse-mat etc..

Carrol Rowe Liz - you have the old problem of 'sitting with Nell' could teach bad habits.

Stephanie Phillips Totally agree Liz - on-the-job training is vital but it's so often neglected or not seen as proper 'training'.

Kylie Baxter Superusers need to be trained first so that they can help others.

Stephanie Phillips Carrol - I think this can be a problem but there are also huge benefits to doing things this way.

Rachel Partridge Collaborate with other local employers - share costs of sessions on health & safety training for instance - training isn't just about CBT, is it?

Mike Samson Liz - but surely the message eventually gets watered down?

Liz Carrol how could it teach bad habits? Do you mean Nell can't be trusted?

Kay Reynolds I am looking at introducing more
formal/recorded OTJ training - it already appears as part of the appraisal review of training.

Stephanie Phillips Mike - I agree with Kylie that some sort of coaching can be given first to those involved.

Carrol Rowe Steph - works better with those wanting more specialist/advanced skills, not for novices.

Stephanie Phillips Mmmm, I'm not sure - I've taught novices basic processes before - think they got the hang of it!

Carrol Rowe Liz - no, not at all, Nell is usually lovely, Nell tends to be someone who knows job inside/out, trained trainer would be better.

Kylie Baxter It's been my experience that superusers (or whatever you want to call them) are generally enthusiastic about the idea and wanting to help. Plus they 'speak the language' sometimes better than 'outsiders' do.

Don Williams Just because someone can do a job well does not make them a good Trainer..

Liz Give Nell some status perhaps...

Stephanie Phillips Carrol - I think that may be the case for generic IT training but not necessarily for job-based skills..

Mike Samson Super-users may be knowledgeable, but can they get the message across in the correct context?

Carrol Rowe Mike - if trained correctly to do so.

Stephanie Phillips All, this is a really good discussion but we need to wind things up soon. Are there any other aspects of TNAs people want to talk about before we go?

Rachel Partridge Any signposts to more info Stephanie?

Kylie Baxter Is there another name than TNA? I think it puts people off..

Stephanie Phillips Rachel - good point, I'll see what I can find to put onto the site, as nothing springs to mind at present - I'll e-mail you as well.

Mike Samson That would be useful.

Rachel Partridge Thanks

Liz Perhaps development needs analysis?

Stephanie Phillips Kylie - any combination of planning, assessing,.training, learning, requirements, needs would do!

Liz E-mail me too please.

Stephanie Phillips Okay - anyone else as well as Rachel, Mike and Liz?

Kay Reynolds Liz, I like DNA (especially as we are a
scientific organisation)!

Don Williams How about Results Needs Analysis? - One of the best workshops, thank you.

Kylie Baxter Yes, me too.

Kay Reynolds Yes please me too.

Kylie Baxter Something without analysis?

Liz All staff will be subjected to DNA sessions.

Stephanie Phillips Thanks! Liz, the mind boggles!

Rachel Partridge survey? plan?

Stephanie Phillips Okay all, I think it's time to wind things up. Thanks again for a good session - lots of good participation!

Kylie Baxter Thanks - very helpful.

Rachel Partridge thank you Stephanie.

Liz Thanks everybody.

Mike Sampson Cheers.

Stephanie Phillips Hope to see you all for another session soon.

Don Williams Bye.

Kay Reynolds Thank you Stephanie, and all other participants.

Carrol Rowe Bye.

Stephanie Phillips Okay - finishing now. Bye all.

Rachel Partridge Bye.

Kay Reynolds Bye.


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