Do I REALLY need to do a Learning Needs Assessment?


Yes! You REALLY need to complete a learning needs assessment.

A learning needs assessment provides valuable insight and information into the needs of the organization and potential knowledge, information or skill gaps of employees.

A learning needs assessment will help to plan the right programs that support individual employees and the business goals of the organization.

The purpose of a learning needs assessment is to identify current status of learning and project where future learning needs will be. All this is completed in the context of business needs and organizational goals.

Without completing a learning needs assessment every few years, there is no data on existing learning programs (except possibly learner feedback on specific training programs) and no outlined direction on how learning should support employees to meet business goals.

Read the scenario below to understand when a learning needs assessment is needed to solve several organization-wide challenges related to learning, communication and how work gets done.

ABC Company is in a state of intense change because of a new CEO and senior management team. This has created a culture shift that includes:

  • a more team oriented working approach,

  • a higher expectation of staff accountability,

  • greater communication from senior management, and

  • a stronger focus on delivering high quality customer care.

ABC Company has been functioning as a silo based organization. There is recognition of the need to break down silos and improve cross functional team and organizational communication. This way, teams would share information with each other to lessen duplication of efforts or misunderstandings of information shared both internally and externally.

Looking at this situation it’s clear a learning needs assessment would consider:

  • If employees and managers have the skills to foster greater communication or if there is a knowledge gap.

  • In which functional areas employees may need additional training or skill development so they can meet performance objectives since staff accountability has increased.

  • How well employees understand team building since the organization was silo based.

There are two types of learning needs assessments: Macro (organizational) and Micro (individual)

A macro learning needs assessment is completed as part of a strategic undertaking to identify current readiness to reach business goals and determine what additional support employees may need.

A micro learning needs assessment considers the needs of the individual employee including performance issues and knowledge or skill gaps.

The learning needs assessment for ABC Company overlaps both a macro and micro approach.

A learning needs assessment is a review of the current business environment and is completed for several reasons:

  1. To determine if training/learning is the right solution for a performance issue

  2. To identify if information is not being shared across the organization

  3. To identify business goals and determine what learning programs are needed to support employees to meet business goals.

  4. In response to organizational change to ensure employees understand how to work within newly defined parameters

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