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Training employees is a good business practice that keeps employees’ skills sharp, invests in their personal growth, and helps the company meet its goals. In a competitive market, continuing education is an excellent draw for top talent.
Executives often identify educational training as a top strategic priority, but a lack of direction and planning often derails programs. According to McKinsey & Company’s Building Capabilities for Training Report, nearly half of executives admitted training efforts lacked a clear vision. About 36% said they failed to determine credible metrics to judge training program success. Without a vision and assessments in place, custom learning could fail.
Employee training, when done well, takes planning and intention. It should link directly to your company’s goals and compliment your employees’ existing skills. Whether you already have a custom learning program or you’re starting from scratch, conducting a training needs analysis for your company is the best place to begin.
A needs analysis will make L&D programs more effective by helping to set goals, determining specific topics or learning methods best suited for your employees, and helping you build a budget to create or update systems. Can you build an L&D program without a needs analysis? Yes, but at the risk of designing a program with the same flaws as before.
Although a needs analysis is the key to training that’s aligned with company goals, many teams are hesitant to launch the process for many reasons: fear of holding up a project, unplanned costs, lack of buy-in from senior leaders, or apprehension about spending months on the analysis, only for the project to fall through.
Most of these fears are unfounded. Needs analysis projects can vary wildly in cost, budget, and resources. What may take months for a large organization may only take a few weeks for a small business. Instead of potential concerns, keep these three benefits in mind:
A strong foundation for a training program is fundamental if you’re starting from scratch, but a needs analysis can also help strengthen existing custom learning. When the training has a solid framework, it will be easier to scale as your organization grows.
Business needs change, employees leave or move to new roles, and existing skills require a refresh. A needs analysis is a wonderful tool to discover your team’s weaknesses and areas for strengthening or reskilling. The process helps determine where L&D teams should distribute a training budget and finds areas where employees need additional support to retain what they’ve learned.
Training can become outdated quickly. New technologies become available from one iteration to the following, and research brings fresh insights to the industry. A needs analysis can uncover areas where technology could present information in a fresh, new way.
Scoping your managed learning program is one step closer to developing and designing content. A needs analysis shows you exactly the content you need and the methods that resonate most with employees who learn in unique ways. It can help tame “scope creep” and help avoid a budget inflated with unnecessary features.
An intentional needs analysis may seem like an unnecessary step in training development, but taking the extra time to work through the process can pay dividends for your future custom learning projects and ensure your team’s success.
Opportunities to improve your managed learning programs abound when you conduct a needs analysis. Learn the ins and outs of program audits in our free white paper.
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