Krystyna Gadd offers some advice on learning needs analysis (LNA) and its value in raising your profile.
Looking at the CIPD L&D survey of 2015, I came upon a very interesting statistic: of the organisations polled only 25 per cent said that L&D are extremely aligned to the organisation.
So this statistic has to be worrying, but perhaps not surprising. What, I wonder, is happening in the other 75 per cent? Where would you place your organisation? In the 25 per cent or the 75 per cent? If you don’t know or if you are in the 75 per cent, consider this, how would you like:
- L&D to be the change agents for your organisation?
- It to be easy to justify budgets for L&D interventions?
- When there is a downturn, L&D is not cut, but people are invested in?
By analysing the needs of your organisation, before delivering any learning or training, you may find the things above become a reality!
TNA, LNA or NA?
Is this just semantics? Are they just all the same? So here is the thing, if I conduct a training needs analysis (TNA), the solutions are always going to be training. It is a little like having only a hammer in your toolbox and so everything looks like a nail. Often organisations that conduct TNAs only, may be either very technical in the learning they deliver, or it could be that they do not know much about the organisation and how it operates.
So how does a TNA differ from an LNA? A LNA will be broader in its outlook, the equivalent of having a hammer, a wrench and a screwdriver, along with some Allen keys in your toolbox. The outcome however, will always be a learning solution:
- A book to read
- A webinar
- A qualification, or
- Any number of learning interventions.
What would be really useful, is whenever you are conducting an LNA, you ask some questions:
- Is there something happening behind the scenes that I need to know about?
- Is there something missing?
- Is something not happening?
- Is there something besides learning that these people need (for example, more resources, better processes, more support and so on)?
These are great questions to start with, but ask more, dig deeper and look beyond the traditional training or learning needs. For this to be successful though, there are some things that you will need in your personal toolkit.
- An air of curiosity – to avoid coming into conflict when you challenge.
- A willingness to find out more about your organisation and how it works.
- The ability to speak the language of the stakeholders and not just in L&D speak.
- Persistence and courage to challenge when people just tell you to “DO it” (the training that is).
- An overview of what the culture is like and how the organisation is structured – this can be key in determining how easy it is to get people on board and change minds. For example a company with a hierarchical structure and a blame culture will resist change and pass the buck. Whereas a matrix structure and a culture of empowering, will welcome your curiosity and fresh eyes to see what might be going wrong.
- Infiltrate the organisation so you have your finger on the pulse of what is happening now, not six months ago.
Sometimes an LNA cannot be foreseen or planned
Have a look at the table below to see some of the instances when they can be planned and when they cannot. Try as much as you can to plan in your LNAs (always thinking about what might be going on under the surface). Once you start doing regular LNAs and demonstrating the value your solutions bring, it will become easier and easier to get the resources you need to do a valuable LNA and any subsequent solutions.
|Rise in complaints||Company merger|
|Loss of a major customer||Entering a new market|
|Grievance against a line manager||Appointing a new manager|
|Accident||New payroll system|
|Drop in productivity||New customer service standard|
|New competitors enter market||New legislation|
Once you know you are going to do an LNA, you then need to choose some suitable methods. Below is a table of many different LNA methods. You could start by trying to sort them according to whether they are high/low cost and whether they are suitable for individuals or groups.
|SWOT||360 DEGREE FEEDBACK||SCORING GRID|
|DATA CHECKING – COMPLAINTS, MI, WASTE||ANALYSE CORPORATE MISSION & STATEMENT PLANS||IMPLEMENTATION OF PROJECTS|
|ANALYSE DEPARTMENTAL PLANS||COMPETENCY FRAMEWORK CHECK||IDENTIFICATION OF OWN NEEDS|
|FOCUS GROUPS||OBSERVATION||WORK SAMPLES|
|FORMAL TESTING||QUALITY CHECKS||ASSESSMENT CENTRES|
|ANALYSIS OF APPRAISALS||SUCCESSION PLANNING||MANPOWER PLANNING|
|FOCUS GROUPS||JOB ANALYSIS||QUESTIONNAIRES|
|CRITICAL INCIDENT TECHNIQUES||HIERARCHICAL TASK ANALYSIS|
This is one way to see which methods are going to be most suitable for your situation. You will also need to consider some other criteria, to be able to decide which methods will fit your requirements:
- Your budget
- Resources, such as people and tools
- Commitment from stakeholders – without this, it does make it harder*
- Size and culture of your organisation
So finally, here are some of the secrets of LNA:
- Know the difference between an LNA, TNA and NA
- Choose the most suitable methods – use use triangulation; three methods to get a broader picture
- Plan the LNA when you can
- Always keep the end in mind so that you are aligned to your business.
So if you are in that 75 per cent, you can get the help you need to achieve alignment with your organisation. Begin with the end in mind and plan in some analysis!