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Is Training Needed? Checklist

Updated: May 22, 2023

How do you know whether training is the right solution—even with a defined performance gap? Needs analysis is one way to determine whether training is the best answer. Since it’s not always possible—or feasible—to conduct a full-scale needs analysis, this checklist will guide you through the most important questions to ask.



Pre-training Checklist:

Key Stakeholder Questions

1.

What is the defined gap? What is the origin and cause of the gap? What data do you have on the gap?


Before developing any training program, it’s critical to understand the nature of the performance gap. Ask your key stakeholders and subject matter experts questions to find out as much as possible before diving into training development. If the problem is ill-defined, it’s best to get a better grasp of it. This could involve also talking to employees to find out whether the real problem can be handled with a system fix or incentive.

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2.

Does the performance gap exist because employees don’t know HOW to do the required work?


If employees only lack the knowledge to perform the task for some reason, training can be a great option to close the performance gap.

Y

N

3.

​Does the performance gap exist because employees don’t know WHAT work is required of them?


If the answer is yes, a change management and communication effort is needed to define the required tasks and corresponding business process.

Y

N

4.

Does the performance gap exist because employees don’t WANT to do it for some reason?


If employees are reluctant to perform the task for some reason, training will not correct the performance gap. Employees need to be engaged in work and have clear incentives—this is a management function.

Y

N

5.

Does the performance gap exist because there is no RECOGNITION for performing the task well and/or no CONSEQUENCE for not performing it as desired?


If either of these situations are a yes, training alone will not correct the performance gap. Employees need a tangible consequence for performing tasks correctly or incorrectly.

Y

N

6.

Are employees INTELLECTUALLY and PHYSICALLY capable of doing the work?


If the answer is no, the job may not be suited to the employee. Again, training will not correct this type of performance gap.

Y

N

7.

​Do employees already have the job KNOWLEDGE and needed ATTITUDE to complete the work?


If the answer is yes and the performance gap still exists, training may not be the answer. You may need to look at factors such as the environment: do employees have access to the appropriate equipment and resources?

Y

N

8.

​Are employees POSITIVE about their work and INTELLECTUALLY/PHYSICALLY capable of doing the job, but lack specific knowledge, skills or abilities?


If the answer is yes, you are probably ready to begin implementing new training to close the performance gap.

Y

N

9.

​Is your organization ready to reinforce and support their new behaviors?


If the answer is yes, you are probably ready to begin implementing new training to close the performance gap.


If the answer is no, you may need to work with supervisors to ensure that new skills and knowledge will be put to use, assessed and recognized.

Y

N

Remember that this checklist won’t take the place of a needs analysis, but it can help ensure you’re on the right track when determining whether to create training or not.


As you consider a training approach vs. a non-training approach, it’s also important to be aware of the 70- 20-10 model for learning and development. This model holds that employees obtain 70% of their knowledge from job-related experiences, 20% of their knowledge from interactions with others, and 10% from formal education. This doesn’t mean that formal training is not a good option, it’s just important to keep in mind that most workplace learning comes from experience and collaboration, with only 10% from formal training.


Non-Training Options


Would a job aid, support tool or demo video work just as well as training?

For example, could you pull employees into a short team huddle to go over instructions or use a job aid to help employees walk through the new task on their own? If so, creating full-blown training may be unnecessary.


Does the system itself need a “fix” instead of “fixing” users?

Always check to see if there is a system fix that could be made instead of training employees on an extensive workaround. In some cases, a quick system update may be easier and less costly than developing training. Note that this could apply to things outside of a software system, too. For example, an update to existing standard operating procedures, other work processes, roles and responsibilities or organizational design may be needed.


Are employees receiving feedback or incentives to do what’s required?

Incentives can be a great tool for helping employees accomplish key tasks. Incentives don’t always need to be monetary, either. Often, learners will do what’s right if they receive acknowledgement, recognition or praise, or can simply avoid trouble or penalties.


Additional Resources

Analyzing Performance Problems: Mager & Pipe

Telling Ain’t Training: Stolovitch & Keeps




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