Training Needs Assessment

Course Project: Training and Development

Objectives | Guidelines | Milestones: Project Phases—In Detail | Grading Criteria
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The Course Project is designed to provide you with real-life, practical experience in conducting a training and OD needs assessment for a selected organization and in developing a training or intervention strategy to address the needs that have been identified.
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The Course Project must be comprehensive and follow the analytical stages below.
1.    Select an organization to be studied.
2.    Develop and conduct a needs assessment.
3.    Analyze the data collected and identify training needs.
4.    Develop a training or intervention strategy to address the needs.
5.    Determine the training intervention cost and quantify expected results.
6.    Develop an evaluation method.
Once the steps have been completed, a detailed paper outlining your processes, methodologies, results, and recommendations should be prepared. Although the length of the paper is not predetermined, a paper of 10–15 pages in length, double-spaced, is customarily necessary to cover the topic adequately. This does not include the title and reference pages.

Note: There is an excellent guide online called Human Capital: A Guide for Assessing Strategic Training and Development Efforts in the Federal Government put out by the United States General Accounting Office. Although this relates to the government and not the private sector, it contains excellent information that can be applied anywhere.
Milestones: Project Phases—In Detail
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Part 1: Select an Organization to Be Studied
There are a number of ways in which an organization can be selected. One option is to look outside your organization for companies that would be interested in participating in the project. Another is to volunteer your own organization, or if you are not currently employed, use a church, school, club, or other organization.

Once your organization has been selected, you will need to learn a lot about it. It is essential for you to understand the organization’s business, goals, objectives, and mission in order to complete this project successfully. (Submit the information on your selected organization to your Dropbox by the end of Week 1—this is an ungraded step but required and essential to help you make sure you are on the right track.) Also note that you will be submitting a progress report for this project in Week 5 in the Minipaper assignment—this is worth 100 points.
Part 2: Conduct a Needs Assessment
Training and development processes begin with a needs assessment. Given the economic pressures that businesses face today, it is imperative that those needs be connected to specific organizational performance issues.

There are three different forms of analysis you will need to complete.
1.    Organizational analysis involves determining the appropriateness of training given the organization’s business strategy, its resources available for training, and support by managers and peers for training activities.
2.    Person analysis involves (1) determining whether performance deficiencies result from a lack of knowledge, skill, or ability (a training issue) or from a motivational or work-design problem; (2) identifying who needs training; and (3) determining employees’ readiness for training.
3.    Task analysis identifies the important tasks and knowledge, skill, and behaviors that need to be emphasized in training for employees to complete their tasks.
Hints for a Successful Needs Assessment

As you conduct your needs assessment, you may want to consider four potential sources of information that may help you in your analysis. Information such as employee turnover analysis, incident reports, long-range production goals, employee satisfaction studies, and physical plant layout can tell us a lot. Examples of other documents you may wish to consider include the following.
•    Business documents: Key business documents can be used to determine areas of poor performance and developmental needs. Such documents may include

1.    unit productivity reports;
2.    customer satisfaction surveys;
3.    communication survey reports; and
4.    competitive analysis reports.

•    Organization survey: Questionnaires can be created that probe for areas in which systems, structures, or processes are not functioning as intended. They can be used to look toward group, departmental, or individual issues. (Submit your survey to be used for gathering data by the end of Week 3—70 points.)
Potential questions include the following.
Questionnaire Questions
1.    I am involved in decisions that directly affect my job.
2.    My supervisor communicates with me on a regular basis.
3.    I clearly understand what is expected of me.
4.    I am rewarded for good performance.
5.    My opinion has been asked regarding what needs to change in my work area.
6.    I understand why the decisions that affect my job are made.
7.    My supervisor gives me information that is important to me.
8.    I have the skills necessary to perform my job properly.
9.    I am rewarded for working well with others.
10.    I receive frequent feedback on my performance.
11.    I believe the information that I receive from my supervisor.
12.    I have the tools necessary to perform my job properly.
13.    My job leaves me with a sense of accomplishment.
14.    I understand the information that I receive from my organization.
15.    I am encouraged to make decisions that affect my job.
16.    I am encouraged to communicate with my supervisor.
17.    Team goals are supported throughout my organization.
18.    My organization treats all employees well.
19.    I have the information necessary to make decisions that affect my job.
20.    I am encouraged to communicate with others.
21.    The feedback that I receive is directly related to my job performance.
22.    My organization treats all employees fairly.
23.    My supervisor allows me to communicate my thoughts without fear of reprisal.
24.    The feedback that I receive is constructive in nature.
25.    My organization is interested in the growth and development of its employees.
26.    I believe the information that I receive from my organization.
•    Observations: Individuals can be observed on the job, and their interactions and activities can be noted for further analysis. Observations can include the following.
1.    How individuals communicate (time spent, amount of detail, responsiveness)
2.    How individuals make decisions (time spent, involvement sought, etc.)
3.    How work is performed (under pressure, in groups, etc.)
•    Interviews: Interviews can be conducted in person or via a distributed questionnaire that probes for areas where performance may be improved. Potential interview questions include the following.
1.    What do you think the most important part of your job is? What is least important?
2.    What would you like to learn to make your job easier or better? What are the programs, processes, or resources available for you to learn from?
3.    How have you developed the skills that you have?
4.    Who brings problems to you and what kind of problems are they? How do you usually solve them? Whom do you ask for help?
5.    What do you find most frustrating about your job?
6.    What would you like to be spending your time doing? What would need to happen to let you do that?
It is up to you to determine the methodology to be used in conducting the assessment. Considerations should include the willingness of the organization and its employees to provide information, the availability of information from the organization to be studied, and the availability of individuals in the organization to be interviewed and observed.

The nature of the needs analysis, of course, also should be based on the type of assessment desired. Given the broad coverage of the course, assessment may include, but would not be limited to, the following.
1.    Group processes and group effectiveness
2.    Departmental effectiveness
3.    Decision-making process effectiveness
4.    Individual skills development
5.    Group skills development
6.    Career development
Part 3: Analyze the Data Collected and Identify Training Needs
Analyze the data you have collected and identify one or more training needs for the organization. Be sure to fully justify your recommendations and link your recommendations to the organization’s business goals.

The data collected must be viewed in terms of the initial intent of the project. Care must be taken to evaluate the data for what they portray. Insufficient analysis or understanding of data, as well as reading more into data than what they actually portray, are equally ineffective activities. (Submit your course Minipaper that describes your needs assessment findings and other relevant project information in Week 5—100 points.)
Part 4: Develop a Training or Intervention Strategy to Address the Needs
Creating a developmental strategy is the objective of the investigative segment of the project. The strategy may include the following.
1.    Training Sessions
a.    Traditional classroom
b.    Simulations
c.    Self-managed strategies
d.    Opportunity to perform

2.    Career management systems
a.    Self-assessment programs
b.    Mentoring systems
c.    Action planning

3.    Organizational development intervention activities
a.    Team building
b.    Intergroup activities
c.    Survey feedback activities
d.    Education and training activities
e.    Structural activities
f.    Process consultation
g.    Blake-Mouton grid activities
h.    Third-party peacemaking
i.    Coaching and counseling
j.    Career planning
k.    Goal setting

4.    System redesign
a.    Search conferences
b.    Confrontation meetings
c.    Strategic planning meetings
Part 5: Determine the Training or Intervention Cost and Quantify Expected Results
The fifth section of the Course Project is conducting a cost-benefit analysis. Training costs must be evaluated against anticipated results. This will only be palatable if, in the initial assessment, specific behaviors and processes and their impacts on the performance of the organization were determined. If so, conducting this final analytical segment should be possible.
Part 6: Develop a Method of Training Evaluation
Once you have completed the training, how will you know whether it has been successful? There are a variety of ways to evaluate training and development programs. Clearly identify the specific outcomes you expect from the project. Then develop a method of evaluating the effectiveness of your project.
Submit your assignment to the Dropbox located on the silver tab at the top of this page. For instructions on how to use the Dropbox, read these step-by-step instructions or watch this Tutorial Dropbox Tutorial.
See the Syllabus section “Due Dates for Assignments & Exams” for due date information.
Grading Criteria
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Category     Points     %     Description
Background     50         Acquaint the reader with the organization selected, why it was selected, and the specific division or department of interest. Fully discuss the corporate agenda, its business strategy, its environment, and its objectives. A professional overview of the organizational culture and values should be included in the analysis.
Needs Assessment Design, Implementation, and Analysis     75         Design a needs assessment that analyzes organizational objectives and goals and then examines the factors that affect reaching those goals. Your analysis should look at the organization, person, and task levels. Be sure you fully describe your methodologies, process, and results.
Recommended Training Strategy and Design     75         Outline your plan for developing a training model to meet the results of the needs assessment. It is important to recognize that training is not always the most cost-effective solution to an organizational problem. Credit will be given for other creative and cost-effective developmental modalities other than training. Professional justification is expected for the choices. Clearly outline the desired learning outcomes and include your specific recommended training methods. Fully address any learning environment and transfer-of-training issues.
Cost-Benefit Analysis (ROI)     50         Outline the cost of recommended training, the potential return on investment (ROI), and the expected results. A plan should be provided on how to justify the costs.
Training Evaluation Plan     50         Detail your methods for evaluating the effectiveness of the training after it has been completed. How will the organization know whether the training has been successful?
Total Point Value     300     100     A quality paper will meet or exceed all of the above requirements.

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