Learning & Development

How to Perform a Training Needs Assessment

You know where you want to go. To get there, you need to know where you are and the distance between the two. Conducting a training needs assessment helps you identify the gaps between what your team is currently doing and what they need to do to achieve organizational goals.

To do this effectively, you must understand how to assess training needs in an organization. This analysis is a detailed, multi-step process. However, it's absolutely worth the effort as it can help you determine the specific training to implement.

When Do You Need to Conduct a Training Needs Assessment?

It's good to perform a training needs assessment when your goals change or add new ones. This approach helps you identify where employees may struggle to achieve those objectives. Additionally, you may want to evaluate training needs if you notice performance issues.

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How to Assess Training Needs in an Organization

Before you determine the methods you will use to conduct a training needs assessment, start with your desired outcomes. Essentially:

  • What are your goals?
  • How does each role contribute to that?

For example, your goal may be to have 500 microchips completed and ready for shipping each night. However, that may involve three different teams: Manufacturing, quality control, and shipping. 

Before you can assess whether your workers can achieve this goal, you have to determine what you need them to do. In this case, it might look like this:

  • Manufacturing: Produce 10 microchips per worker per shift
  • Quality Control: Inspect 50 microchips per worker per shift to verify tolerances
  • Shipping: Package and adequately label two crates per worker on every shift

Now you can identify the skills each worker needs to achieve those goals. 

Focusing on the manufacturing team, you might determine that every worker needs to read order specifics, properly adjust their machines within 20 minutes, conduct minor repairs and swap out parts, and know the procedures for getting each set of chips ready for inspection.

If they have those skills, they can achieve that goal. If you notice gaps in skills or results or have recently implemented a new plan, it's time to move on to a training needs assessment.

Determining the Best Assessment Methods

There are nearly limitless ways to evaluate workers' skills and determine where training gaps exist. Here are just a few training needs assessment examples:

Listening and Observing

In many cases, you can find training gaps through listening. Your team members do their jobs every day, and they know where they struggle and what can improve. Listening also helps you learn more about what goes on daily that affects their performance--nuances, pain points, and potential roadblocks.

You can also evaluate skills, strengths, and weaknesses through observation. However, watching people work can be a slippery slope to micromanagement and damaged trust. The best advice you can get will come from your team. Empower them to figure things out independently, but take the time to listen to what they need. 

Written or Online Examinations

There's a benefit to written and online assessments. They allow you to create a clear record of each worker's competencies in a specific area. Later, you can use this to determine whether any training was practical. It's also easier to conduct assessments in large or distributed workplaces.


Finally, you may have documentation on hand to help you identify skills gaps. For example, reports from a quality control department may clearly explain training needs in manufacturing. You can also use employee evaluations, self-evaluations, or customer service complaints.

Identify Gaps and Causes

Once you have the results from these assessments, you should notice skills gaps. Understanding where skills gaps exist gives you a goal to work back from. You can use this to plan what your teams need to meet their goals.

However, this process may also highlight some external factors causing performance issues. These factors could include staffing shortages, a lack of equipment or software, or something else entirely.

Make Training Recommendations

Once you have identified the gaps, you must determine which training solutions you should apply. This process could be as simple as selecting and using a self-guided online training course you have on hand. It could be as complex as creating and delivering a video training course to hundreds of employees.

No matter what method you choose, you need a single source of truth for all of your company's learning. 

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