What Is a Training Needs Analysis?

Malcolm Tatum

Training needs analysis (TNA) is an approach to the training process that seeks to evaluate the skills and attributes needed to bring about a desired outcome, then compare those needs to the assets that are currently on hand to aid in achieving stated goals. As part of the process, TNA will then aid in determining how to fill in those gaps between the skills on hand and the skills needed to be successful. Once the training needs analysis is complete, the training program can be implemented and all personnel involved in the effort can acquire the additional training necessary to proficiently support the activity under consideration.

Businessman with a briefcase
Businessman with a briefcase

One of the easiest ways to understand a training needs analysis is to consider a company that has grown to the point that a need for a full-time customer service team has arrived. In order to help create that department and train personnel to take over those duties, the company will analyze various mechanisms that will be used in the customer service and support effort, including training with software programs, telephone and email etiquette, and general customer service training. After identifying the skills needed, the company can turn to the pool of available employees who demonstrate some talent for customer service and identify what types of training are necessary to equip them for the task. From there, the structure of the training program for customer service can be completed, and qualified candidates can enter the training. The end result is a fully efficient customer service team that is capable of strengthening customer loyalty and helping the company continue to grow.

The specifics involved in a training needs analysis will vary, depending on the type of job or activity involved. For example, the TNA associated with training someone how to work on a production line will of necessity be different from the needs involved in structuring a program that will support the proper training of people for sales roles in a retail establishment or working in the kitchen of a large restaurant. While the underlying process of identifying skills, comparing those skills with the current aptitudes of potential trainees, and using that data to develop a viable training program are more or less the same in any setting, each analysis will remain unique to the situation at hand.

A training needs analysis may be conducted in-house by human resources personnel, or managed by a consultant who specializes in this type of business support service. With either application, a willingness to look at each aspect of the process objectively, being open to constructive criticism, and exhibiting an openness to follow through with the tasks necessary to structure the training to best effect is essential. Anything less will result in a training needs analysis that is inherently flawed, and likely to fall short of the desired goals in terms of equipping trainees to realize their full potential.

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