Training Needs Analysis

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Employee Training Needs Analysis

The question of whether or not to train is an important one. Questions concerning training need analysis, cost-effectiveness and the extent to which a given intervention will meet an organization’s goals are all central to consideration of that decision.

Training needs analysis is the process of determining which training an individual, job or organization requires. It’s conducted at three stages – at the organizational level, within an individual and for a specific position (job).

Once these analyses are done, the results are put together to determine the objectives of the training program.

Given the discrepancy between what should be and what is, the World Bank conducted a needs analysis. They concluded that many of their units in Eastern Europe required transformation from state-owned to self-sustaining institutions.

Although each step in the training process is unique, needs analysis (the assessment) is from a foundation that emphasizes what kind of intervention you need – knowledge or skill. In certain cases where both are present and performance is still missing then the problem may be motivational in nature. This highlights the importance of needs assessment as well as an appropriate intervention.

Organic analysis can be done at three levels – organizational, individual and job.

Organisational Analysis

The organizational analysis is used to identify training issues and provide insight into the environment needed for learning. This type of survey can give cues about what people in an organization train on, how often it should be done, which departments require more focus based on their goals, and other factors that affect educational initiatives within an organization.

Job Analysis

A job analysis is an objective assessment of a job, and it considers both the worker-oriented approach (= approaches related to workers) and the task-oriented approach (= approaches related to tasks) in order to figure out what kind of intervention training development stage needs.

The worker approach focuses on individual behaviours whereas the task-oriented approach identifies what an individual needs to do for a certain job. The former is helpful in figuring out how best to intervene and the latter helps with content development and evaluating programs.

Individual Analysis

The individual analysis focuses on whether the person in question needs training, and if so, what type of training should be provided. This is done by comparing performance against an expected level or standard.

The individual analysis is performed by questionnaires, 360 feedback, personal interviews and competency ratings. Organizations also rate their managers to determine training needs that will be discussed in detail in other articles.

360 feedback is a method in which individuals are rated by their supervisors, peers and subordinates. The results can inform training needs at both the personal level and on the job level. Personal interviews will usually focus more on how to deal with work performance rather than what you need for your skill set. Competency ratings are based on competencies that may be presented in job profiles.

These types of analyses are the basis upon which needs assessments and training programs are built – they help us determine whether training is necessary, what kind it should be, how to carry it out in a cost-effective way, and improve performance levels.

It should be noted that these measurements aren’t necessarily 100% accurate as commonly misunderstood. For example, performance is a product of both what workers know and how they apply their skills despite many people assuming it’s just hand in glove with skills. This assumption leads to the mistake of implementing training programs that only fix knowledge but neglect skill application aspects. Also, during implementation periods there are common errors such as assuming that the same training is suitable for all individuals and not tailoring the intervention to specific needs.

Further reading:

Schlosser, M., & Shrives, R. (2014). Needs Assessment: What It Is and Why It Matters . Presentation at the 2014 National Conference of Undergraduate Research in Business Administration case study competition. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed 18 May 2014].


O’Donnell, J., & Sahlin-Bodammer, P. (2013). Understanding the Relationship between Training Needs and Learning Outcomes in Organizations. International Journal of Business Excellence, 6(6), 1-18.

Trotman, D., & Stahl, G. (1999). The relationship between training needs and business performance: a meta analysis of the training needs assessment literature. Human Resource Management Review, 9(1), 3-27.

Yin, R. (2009). Case Study Research: Design and Methods . SAGE Publications Inc. USA.

Zemke, R., & Kramlinger, T. (1994). The Adult Learner : A Neglected Species . Adult Learning Systems; Belmont CA, Thomson/Wadsworth, 3rd Edition.

Zemke, R., & Zemke, S. (1990). Literacy in the workplace . American Management Association: New York.


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