Training needs analysis (TNA) is a given, right? Define your goals and desired actions, get to know the audience and their needs, and pin point some measurable targets for your project. Whether it takes an hour or a day, defining the problem before you begin your design phase makes sense.
But in a world where learning is becoming more pervasive: multi-channelled, self-directed, communal and continuous, what does a modern day training needs analysis need to capture that it might not have done, say, five years ago? And how do you set targets for something that is potentially moving, growing and continuous?
TNAs commonly focus on business objectives: the desired actions or outcomes that an organisation needs to achieve, and the resulting performance objectives: the actions different roles need to carry out in order to make that business change, which may include audience profiling and user groups to help you get under their skin.
TNAs can also set out evaluation strategies upfront so you know what you’re measuring to gauge success, and how. This is all great stuff, but we’d like to dig a bit deeper.
If you want to create meaningful and memorable learning experiences and drive people towards content and desired behaviour changes, try to capture some extra insights. Here’s our top four:
1. Know the available channelsIt’s obvious but so often overlooked: you won’t achieve your performance objectives if you don’t target people through appropriate channels. If like us, you believe that learning should be less about ‘come here and get it’ but more about ‘we’ll bring it to you, and in the way you like it”, you need to uncover the communication channels available and being used by your audience at work, and explore what they use out of work. Ask:
- Where do you go for answers and support? e.g. TED Talks, online forums, my coach
- What communication channels are available/popular?
- What channels do you tend to use outside of work? e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Thumbs (i.e. are they natural social media users and their company is yet to harness this?)
- What’s the mobile/tablet culture?
2. Get emotionalTNAs tend to be SMART with their objectives, but a set of learning objectives alone won’t get you to behaviour change. You need to think about the emotional impact you want to make. There are some fantastically designed sites, tools, resources and apps out there on the web. Audience expectations of digital content are high, and so is the traffic of stuff bombarding them every day. Make your content stand out from the crowd by getting into the hearts, as well as minds, of your stakeholders. Explore:
- How should the content feel?
- What’s the first impression you want people to have of it?
- How should people feel when they’ve ‘finished’ it?
- What other elearning resources/sites/videos/apps inspire you or set a benchmark? and understand the emotions of your audience:
- What do you care about in your role? What matters to you?
- What motivates you to improve your performance? Why?
- What would motivate you to use some learning resources on X?
- What would help you perform better?
- What recent media experience made an impression on you? Why? i.e. advert/poster/website/video/story etc.
3. Be a culture vultureTNA is not mechanistic; it’s more subtle than that. Understanding the learning and social culture of the organisation is a key ingredient. And it’s what’s inside that counts. What companies say they do on the outside doesn’t always look the same on the inside. If face-to-face, peer-learning, coaching, mentoring, and social media channels are at least to be considered in your blend, you need to figure out how they match up to the current culture. Try:
- What does the organisation/target audience value and celebrate?
- How are mistakes and lessons learned dealt with?
- What’s the sharing culture? (How open and honest is the organisation?)
- Who shares with whom? Is it grade to grade, top down, free and open?
- What tends to be shared? Tips, stories, lessons learned, exemplary work?
- Who do people tend to seek help and advice from?
- What are people measured against in their performance reviews? i.e. financial targets, values and behaviours, job competencies
- Who are the internal champions and experts?
- What tends to motivate people to do something well/to improve?
4. Look beyond the scores and the SCORMMeasurement of course looms large in TNA. But if you’re just looking at who passed the test, you’re taking too narrow a view. As you’ll have read in our Insights guide and last Top Tip, there’s a great opportunity to look beyond tracking SCORM completion and scores when it comes to evaluation. Instead look to other types of evidence from uploads, downloads and forum contributions to peer and coach feedback through to badges, qualifications and more. Plus if you’re committed to creating a sustainable learning journey, you’ll need to consider how you can track and improve the learning experience and offering along the way. Test out:
- What will give you reassurance that positive change is taking place?
- How much might you value positive contributions to on and offline learning communities as part of assessments?
- What’s the role of line managers/coaches/peers in people’s assessments?
- How might you value the use of non-work related content in someone’s learning?
- How willing are you to evaluate, adapt and improve the learning strategy over time?
- What levels of feedback are you interested in capturing about the learning?
We could go on. But hopefully you get the idea that for learning design and evaluation strategies to really move forward, we need to ask some slightly different questions right up front and delve a little deeper into areas traditionally explored by advertising, marketing and communication specialists. They know a thing or two about influencing behaviour and getting results.
Take it further- We’d love to hear about your TNAs. Let us know how you’re defining needs, motivations, culture and context for your learning projects here.
- Feel there’s a mismatch in culture and vision; or learner needs and organisational needs? Consider a campaign approach to get hearts and minds engaged upfront.
- Want help getting to grips with your organisation’s needs? E-mail one of our consultants today: firstname.lastname@example.org
- To take a look at our Insights guide, go here.