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Upgrade Your Training: Conduct a Winning
Training Needs Analysis (TNA)

A series of blocks piled up in a row with arrows pointing upwards.
Hacking HR Team

Posted on March 28, 2024

A staggering 70% of employees report they lack the skills needed to do their jobs, which will likely cost your company money. Generic "spray and pray" training programs might feel productive, but are they moving the needle for your business?

A strategic training needs analysis (TNA) is the foundation for building development programs that drive real change. It helps you uncover the hidden potential within your workforce and pinpoint the skills that will make your people and your business more successful. So, here's the question: Are you ready to transform training from a chore into a strategic growth engine?

Let's explain what a training needs analysis is and why every HR team should prioritize it.

What is a Training Needs Analysis?

A Training Needs Analysis (TNA) is a systematic process designed to uncover the specific skills and knowledge gaps holding your employees (and your company) back from reaching their full potential. Let’s dissect it:

  • The Problem: You know there are skill gaps, but guessing where they are is a recipe for wasted training budgets.

  • The TNA: It's a focused diagnosis, pinpointing the exact areas where training can have the most significant impact on performance, satisfaction, and the bottom line.

  • The Result: You gain a data-informed roadmap for targeted training initiatives that align with the individual employee's growth and the company's strategic goals.

Example: Imagine your customer service reps consistently get complaints about long resolution times. A TNA can help you determine if the cause is:

  • Product Knowledge Gaps: Do employees deeply understand your products or services?

  • Inefficient processes: Are outdated systems or confusing procedures slowing things down?

  • Soft-Skill Deficits: Could better communication or problem-solving skills improve the customer experience?

Why Bother with a Training Needs Analysis?

Think about the times your training programs fell flat or when employees walked away uninspired. What if there was a way to ensure every training dollar invested unlocks your employees' potential and fuels your business goals? A strategic Training Needs Analysis is the key.

Here's why it matters:

1. Business Impact: Training = Investment, Not Expense

  • Problem: Freestyling interviews lead to costly bad hires.

  • TNA Solution: Identifies the root cause, leading to a targeted interview skills program.

  • Result: Better candidates, reduced turnover, and quantifiable improvement in your quality of hire metric.

And is your L&D budget being questioned? A strategic TNA connects training directly to bottom-line results. For instance:

Did targeted onboarding training cut new hire ramp-up time by 20%? If so, link it to increased productivity and revenue gains.

A well-executed TNA transforms training from an expense into a strategic growth engine. Show leadership the ROI.

2. Employee Impact: Invest in Them, and They'll Invest in You

  • Generic Training: Tells employees, "Here's a program you may or may not need. Figure it out."

  • TNA Approach: Signals, "We recognize your strengths and the specific areas where you can excel even further."

  • Targeted Development: This boosts confidence and job satisfaction and conveys that growth is a priority, not an afterthought.

  • Outcome: Increased loyalty, a workforce ready to tackle challenges, and a stronger sense of belonging that contributes to retention.

3. Urgency: Outpace Change or Get Left Behind

  • The Skills Landscape: Underscore that today's in-demand skills might be obsolete in a rapidly changing workplace.

  • 2024 and Beyond: Highlight that proactivity is vital for long-term success.

  • A TNA Empowers You: To address current skill gaps and strategically build the workforce your company needs for the future.

Remember: Companies that invest in adaptable, forward-thinking employees aren't just surviving change; they're outpacing it.

An infographic explaining four steps to conduct a training needs analysis (TNA): Use different methods, beyond reviews, tailor your plan, and don't let existing training blind you.

How to Conduct a Training Needs Analysis (TNA) - Key Strategies

If you think your annual performance reviews tell the whole story about your team's skills, it's time for a reality check. While there are different ways to conduct a TNA, the core idea is simple: digging deeper to uncover the skills and knowledge gaps that truly matter for success. A proactive TNA isn't about waiting for problems to become evident; it's about anticipating the skills your workforce will need and ensuring they're prepared to meet any challenge.

Preamble: Briefly acknowledge different TNA methodologies (Organizational, Task, Individual Analysis, etc.). Underscore that while the specifics vary, the core principles of identifying and prioritizing skill gaps remain consistent.

1. Go Beyond Performance Reviews

Establish why performance reviews alone provide limited insight.

List actionable data sources: KPI analysis, customer feedback, manager observations, industry trends, self-assessments, and exit interviews.

Example: Low customer satisfaction scores might indicate gaps in product knowledge, communication skills, or process bottlenecks – areas a performance review wouldn't fully reveal.

2. It's Not One-Size-Fits-All

Highlight the value of gathering input at multiple levels (individuals, teams, management, and external stakeholders).

Outline TNA methods: Surveys, focus groups, interviews, skills assessments, and observations.

Example: A comprehensive TNA for a customer service team might combine agent self-assessments, supervisor feedback, call recordings analysis, and even surveying customers for a holistic view.

3. Don't Let Existing Training Blind You

Challenge HR to critically assess if current training addresses the root cause of performance issues.

Emphasize identifying NEW skill gaps, not just doubling down on existing programs.

Example: If employees consistently need help with a software tool, is the issue lack training, or is the tool itself challenging to use (requiring a process or tech solution, not just more training)?

Final Thoughts

A Training Needs Analysis transforms your training budget from a guessing game into a strategic growth engine. It's the key to ensuring that every L&D dollar is spent intentionally, driving tangible results for your business and empowering your employees to thrive. If you're still relying on generic training programs or performance reviews alone, you must take advantage of a massive opportunity.

Don't wait for skill gaps to turn into crises. A proactive TNA puts you ahead of the curve, giving you the insight to build a resilient workforce prepared for the challenges of 2024 and beyond. Ready to take the first step? Start by identifying a critical performance issue, a key business goal, or a specific team you want to empower through targeted development.

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