There are plethora of reasons as to why organization needs training or, should we say, learning program to keep the employees up-to-date on process improvements, to upskill them, equip them with new techniques and technologies, bridge performance gaps, realign job functions due to restructuring, etc.
Learning and Development programs are only effective if it addresses the pain-points of the organization and its employees. Its effectiveness is also dependent on its adoption and usage by the participants or the learners. Generally, learning and development comes later in the picture, after all the major projects are completed for a year, however in reality, it should be an action point which is a part of the original plan for the year. The very first step to any learning and development program is the assessment – the need assessment.
Generally, many organizations consider need assessment as waste of time, resources and effort.
However, here are some solid reasons to perform need assessment for learning and development program:
- Need of the business: Many a time, a manager or leader may presume that needs identified by them sets the right course of action for their team members, but once the learning and development team starts probing about the requirement, they may discover different issues. To ensure that the learning program meets the needs of the business, it is important to run the training need assessment which involves questions like who, why, how, what and when
- What’s in it for me: A proper training need assessment helps in setting the context for the learners as to why they are here for this learning program and how will it benefit them. This is because it identifies the target audience or learners and customization happens easily as per their job roles and department. This context setting helps in improving learning of the audience and its retention
- Achieve greater ROI: With the right needs assessed, the learners perceives the value of learning program delivered to them, help them apply the same learning in their day-to-day tasks which in turn leads to greater return on investment in terms of money, time and efforts of the organization
Once the needs are assessed thoroughly via training need assessment, deciding upon the topic or topics of training becomes easy and so does the content within the same. This is because with the needs identified, customization happens as per the results of the assessment and it directly impacts the learning and its retention amongst the learners.
As a best practice, once the topics are finalized, many learning and development experts prefer rolling out a pre-assessment for the learners so that the learners along with the department heads and managers can gauge the current level. These assessments can be specific to the topics finalized. Consider this example – as a result of need assessment is was found that the employees lack the understanding of oneself and other’s emotions.
So, basis that result, a learning program on Emotional Intelligence is finalized. Now, in order to up the ante, a learning and development expert may suggest using a pre-assessment like DiSC Agile EQ or EMOTION from central test assessment. The result from these assessments will help the participants understand themselves and would also take the learning program seriously.
Therefore, usage of assessments – be it need assessment followed by a pre-assessment in a learning program helps organization in building competitive advantage by upskills its employees.