A Needs Assessment is a process to determine the gaps/needs between an organization’s current situation and the desired situation. It helps organizations determine the priorities to improve performance. It is easy to identify the problem of a team or organization, but to effectively solve the problem; a Needs Assessment should be used to guide decisions. A Needs Assessment identifies the “what is” relating to the problem you have chosen to address and contrast that to “what should be.” Asking yourself “what do I already know about the needs of the organization.”
In this week’s readings, you will see a variety of frameworks for Needs Assessments. These framework examples will guide you when you complete the Needs Assessment for the organization/team from week 1. In week 1, you identified your problem. Let’s use lack of training as the problem you identified. The lack of training is causing poor customer engagement and therefore, yielding a decline in fiscal performance. We will use this example as we break down the steps to a Needs Assessment. First, review this brief video (5 min.) to see how to conduct a Needs Assessment for employee training. https://youtu.be/CLr0Z8v4qOc
1. Create objectives: What do you want to learn about the assessment? Using our example, we could create the following objective: Increase customer engagement by identifying and selecting the appropriate training. Notice the focus is on customer engagement, not increasing profits. Why? Because the root cause of the reduced profits is lack of customer engagement.
2. Gather data and analyze: You can do this by collecting information through interviews, surveys, observing the team dynamics and social interactions. It is also important to review the organization’s documents that can provide you with additional information such as the mission and values statement, standard operating procedures, training and the culture of the organization.
Using our example from week 1, lack of training. We can review current training and on-boarding processes. Also we can review how old the training is and the methods of deliver. How is new information disseminated to throughout the organization? These are just a few things to consider when collecting data and analysis.
3. Form a Task Group: Now that you have reviewed the organizations’ materials, it is time to get the perspective of the employees. This group should be selected based on your audience. For example, if you are considering creating and implementing new training to improve customer engagement, utilize employees from different departments and levels of rank to provide the feedback and suggestions. Engaged employees are the ones selected for the task force. However, it is important to include a wide range of diverse employees. Top performers are assets, but they may not provide the full perspective needed to create solutions.
4. Analyze and Prioritize Data: Finally, you will analyze and prioritize the information and compare with the needs of the organization. After you select your task group, how will you collect and record their feedback? Consider the logistics of the group. Are they all on-site, off-site or a combination? Will you utilize a survey? Will you host in-person interviews? How will you record, collapse and report the data? Consider the ease of systems.
Some questions you can explore to help you are:
What is the problem?
How is the desired performance related to the current performance?
How does the desired performance relate to the mission statement?
Is the problem organization-wide or isolated to one or a few individuals?
Have organizational initiatives created the problem?
Does the problem relate to individual performance issues?
Is training adequate to support the desired outcome?
Is the issue related to job design?
What criteria are used to measure performance?
Is performance criteria appropriate, i.e. attainable and measurable?
This list is not all inclusive and is a guide to support you when completing a Needs Assessment. They are provided to help you get started and inspire questions to explore.