How to Conduct a Training Needs Assessment – Part 1: What is Training?

 Almost all managers will have the experience of being part of a training in order to solve a problem, resolve a dilemma or bring about some change within an organization through training. However, how many managers or supervisors can actually define “training”?

 What is Training?


Knowledge, Skills & Abilities (KSA’s)

Now let’s look at the components that we wish to transfer through training:

•      Knowledge is information specific and particular to a subject, enabling a person to understand a subject to an acceptable level

•      Skill is a developed aptitude or ability in a particular intellectual or physical area

•      Attitude is an internal state which affects one’s choice of action towards some objects, persons or events

EXERCISE: Give examples of Knowledge, Skills and Abilities present within your Organization?


There are many different ways of looking at training and development within organizations. The following are three important perspectives:

The Fragmented Approach

In this approach,

•      Training is not linked to organizational goals

•      Training is perceived as a luxury

•      Non systematic approach to training

•      Training is directive and delivered by trainers

•      Training occurs with the training department

•      Knowledge-based courses

•      Focus on training not development

EXERCISE: What would you classify as a knowledge-based course?

The Formalized Approach

In this approach,

•      Training is directly linked to human resource needs

•      Systematic developmental training is linked to appraisals

•      Knowledge based courses broadened to skill based

•      Line manager involvement in the development of the course content

•      Training still performed by trainers but the range of skills required increases

•      Pre- and post – course activities increase

•      Training linked to individual needs

 EXERCISE: How would you roll-out pre-course activities?

The Focused Approach

In this approach,

•      Training and continuous development by employees is now perceived as essential for organizational survival and an integral part of organizational strategy

•      Training becomes a source of competitive advantage

•      On-the-job development

•      Self selection for specialized training courses

•      Training non-directive with the exception of knowledge based training courses

•      New forms of training delivery explored, such as open courses and e-learning

•      Measurement of learning becomes critical to the organization

EXERCISE: Which one of the three perspectives is present within your organization?
Which one should be and why?
Why is it not present at the moment?

The Training Cycle

The training cycle is one of the most discussed, but underestimated, models that exist within organizations. We use the word underestimated as many understand the model in terms of one or two portions of the model – namely develop and implement. However, what must become immediately apparent is that without accurate analysis then all other parts become futile and wasteful. Let’s discuss the model highlighting the importance of analysis or in the models terms IDENTIFY, DEVELOP, IMPLEMENT and EVALUATE.

 •      IDENTIFY

–   Identify issues affecting the business performance Caution: Not all issues identified can be resolved via training

 •      DEVELOP

–   Prioritize those identified and develop training objectives


–   Employ training solution

 •      EVALUATE

–   Compare employee/team performance before and after training

 EXERCISE: What sort of issues cannot be resolved via training? Give a few examples.

I hope you have enjoyed Part One! Stay tuned for Part Two: What is a Training Needs Analysis?

Until Next Time, Be Audit Secure!

Lisa Smith



Lisa Smith is CEO of Andere Development, LLC and Chief Content Developer at BeAuditSecure.com. Follow her on Twitter, connect with her on LinkedIn, listen to her Small Business Spoonfuls Podcast, and find more from her in Audit-Secure Assistant at BeAuditSecure.com.

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