Conduct a TNA to test and find out if training is the best solution

Why is the tna step so often missed out?
Ever wondered how often training is touted as a solution when there isn't a clear understanding of the problem. The simple and often neglected solution is to conduct a tna or training needs analysis.

Whether you are an experienced or inexperienced training professional or the person responsible for ‘people’ issues, making your training count is the way to influence the future success of your organization. In order to do this, you must be able to match all training directly to the needs of the organization and the people in it.

You can get a free PDF example of a training needs analysis by clicking here:
Click here to read the PDF in your browser, or right-click to download it.

Quite simply you need to carry out a tna (training needs analysis) because training and development is an investment. It is important to treat it as seriously as investment made, say, in machinery, new technology, or facilities.
I have always thought that a failure to do tna is one of the reasons L&D managers struggle to get senior managers to not just think of training as a cost but as an investment.

Getting clear on "If training is the solution what is the problem?"

Are we talking about skills, knowledge or is it more about unhelpful attitudes and thinking on how we see the world?.So much of our indiviual performance is profoundly impacted by our "inner world" our perceptions drive our behaviours. If you would like to explore these ideas futher then you can find more information here at barnsley counselling

An effective tna (training needs analysis) will contribute to this investment thinking by identifying training issues and priorities in a systematic way, rather than on an ad hoc basis.

The benefits to you and your organization are:

  • Investment in training and development will have a focus and direction.
  • Priority training needs throughout the organization will become apparent.
  • Appropriate methods for meeting these needs will be identified.
  • Training will be systematic and planned but flexible enough to cope with ad hoc requests.
  • The benefits of training will be measured against the initial costs.
  • The contribution that training makes to organizational growth and success will be recognized.

    See how instructional design. takes account of tna here.


    Want to avoid training to meet the wrong need?
    Training can involve the changing of employees' knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviour. To ascertain the appropriate requirements of each job carry out a tna in terms of these four factors, which are described below.

  • Knowledge - facts, procedures, principles and basic skills. Training which involves improvement of knowledge is tending to move more towards the use of self-instruction methods.

  • Skills - aims to change the behaviour of the trainee, usually by seeing and hearing the new skills, practising them and receiving feedback on progress.

  • Attitudes - this is the hardest factor to alter, as it is affected by many variables outside the training process, such as the manager's behaviour, company policy, the peer group, etc. Examples of attempts to change attitudes could include making employees more customer and service-oriented, gaining acceptance of organisational change or improving loyalty and commitment towards the organisation.

  • Behaviour - replacing old work habits with new ones, by attempting to modify employee behaviour. Behaviour is activity which can be seen and measured. Note that training of this nature will require reinforcement once the employee returns to the job.

    Training needs can generally be classified as either individual or group needs.
    Individual needs may relate to orientation (induction) training, initial (basic) training, remedial training (to correct perceived faults - this situation is an alternative to recruiting new staff), refresher training (such as in company policy, safety, fire drill) or personal development.

    Group needs, on the other hand, refer to the need for a number of employees to change their behaviour collectively. Examples include team-building exercises designed to increase group cohesion or introducing new technical information to a group.

    More on how instructional design. can play a useful role in needs analysis here.

    In addition, types of training needs can be reactive or proactive.

    1. Reactive Training - identifies existing weaknesses and acts to remedy them. These weaknesses take the form of barriers which prevent the achievement of set objectives, and can be identified by various symptoms. Examples may include production problems, poor quality control, labour turnover, absenteeism, accidents, grievances, interpersonal conflicts, customer complaints, ineffective use of staff specialists, poor supervision and management practices, unknown or misunderstood objectives, and various others. (Note that the symptoms may require solutions other than training - this will require further investigation.).

    2. Proactive Training - prepares of employees to handle future changes, both within and external to the organisation. This is a longer-term approach, oriented towards development. Changes which may affect organisation plans include product type and demand, work process, technology changes, legislation, financial factors, political issues and business expansion/contraction.

    More information on tna here


    Determining training needs or tna involves collecting data on both the current situation within the organisation and its actual requirements. There are several tna techniques available which can achieve this, including:

  • interviews of employees and managers/supervisors
  • performance appraisal data
  • observation and work study using consultants
  • outside assessment centres
  • analysis of other data from the workplace

    The most common type of tna (training needs analysis) is really a combination of reviewing both how well a job is performed in total, and how well the individual tasks are performed within the job. i.e. a combination of performance and task analysis.

    You can get a free PDF example of a training needs analysis by clicking here:
    Click here to read the PDF in your browser, or right-click to download it.

    The steps involved in this tna approach are as follows:

    1. Determine what level and type of job performance is desired.

    2. Determine the critical job outputs.

    3. Determine what tasks are required of the employee to produce the critical job outputs.

    4. Determine the knowledge and skills required to perform these tasks successfully, as well as any other relevant factors such as job design, resources, etc.

    5. Identify the employee's actual, typical job performance.

    6. Determine the gap between desired job performance and actual, typical performance.

    7. Assess the impact of this gap upon performance of the organisation.

    8. Identify the cause of the performance gap, that is whether there is a training problem.

    9. Identify the new knowledge and skills required, based on impact on job performance.


    Many apparent problems in an organisation may at first appear to require training as a solution, and may be presented to management as a request for training, but this may not be the proper solution. There are various other approaches which could be equally effective under some circumstances and possibly less costly.A tna will sort this out and help you decide on the best solution.

    When a request for training is made, there should be a tna of the situation. A simple statement that should be applied to any identified performance process is, `If a person's life depended on them performing a skill and they could do it, it's a management problem. If they couldn't do it, it's a training problem'. You should also ask the following questions:

    1. Is there a performance problem or an opportunity to improve performance? If so, what is it?

    A performance problem can be defined as a deviation from a standard or goal. It should be stated in specific terms, that is, what is actually happening and what its impact is (such as nature, location, time, extent and cost). This step may involve an analysis of the job, including study of the job description.

    2. What is actually causing the problem? Is it worth attempting to solve the problem?

    It is necessary to identify when the problem began to occur and what else changed at the same time. If the specific performance deficiencies do not involve knowledge, skills, attitudes or behaviour, it is most unlikely that training can provide a solution. Identifying the cause involves examining aspects such as the relevance of job analysis data, working conditions, job satisfaction, supervision, management style and attitudes, industrial relations, objectives of the work section, plant and equipment and employee knowledge and skills.

    The next step is to ascertain the cost of overcoming the performance problem and assess the worth of expending that cost.

    3. What is the best solution from the alternatives available?

    The alternative ways of overcoming the performance problem should be listed and an assessment made of the contribution they can make to restoring the situation and the cost involved (in other words, a cost/benefit analysis). Frequently, a combination of different approaches, which may include training, may be the best option.

    The following are some of the alternatives to training which may overcome a performance problem:

    Changes in recruitment policy. Possible approaches include

    * making more effort to recruit experienced employees;

    * recruiting employees with different qualifications or backgrounds; or

    * checking whether employees are over qualified for the jobs they perform, thus creating a motivational problem.

    A common example would be deciding whether to recruit technical people and change them to sales or recruit sales people and provide them with technical information.

    Staff movements. Promotions, transfers and demotions may allow utilisation of expertise already existing in the organisation. Staff movements may be a better approach on both cost and morale grounds.

    Salary review. If you are thinking of training as an alternative to part of a salary increase, careful enquiry into employee attitudes would be wise.

    Counselling. Performance problems may arise out of personality conflicts, personal problems or misunderstandings about the organisation's goals. An informal discussion with the employee could reveal aspects of job performance which cannot be identified just from observation.

    New equipment. A cost/benefit comparison between training and new technology could be a good idea if the organisation's competitors appear to be performing better than it.

    Job redesign. Where employees seem to be having trouble with a process, it may be a good idea to review the way they perform it, for example in terms of housekeeping problems, task variety, confusing instructions or priorities, employee alienation, etc. Also the employees themselves may be able to tell you what the problem is.

    Other possible causes of problems which may be best handled by strategies other than or combined with training may include employee attitudes or personal problems (such as health), working conditions, technology and organisation structure.

    So make sure you solve the right problem by conducting a tna.