Canada Association of Tourism Employees

Determine Enterprise Wants: 6 Stakeholder Evaluation Questions

Turn stakeholder wants into business needs

Stakeholders are not learners, so they turn to L&D with what they want – also known as solutions – rather than what they need. But if you don’t know what the underlying problem is, how can you be sure that training will solve it?

A few years ago I worked with a client whose stakeholders wanted a new onboarding program (solution). On the surface, it seemed like a fairly simple query. Onboarding programs are designed to orient newcomers to the company’s mission and values, organization and structure, products and services, etc. Ultimately, these programs aim to make the new employee feel that they have made a good choice by joining. But there was a twist …

eBook release

The playbook for needs analysis: How to make L&D a trustworthy partner in your company

Expand your eLearning solutions and achieve business goals. Uncover inside secrets to conduct needs assessment and get stakeholder buy-in.

Separate the needs analysis

When we talked about the desired results (more on that later), the customer mentioned things like reducing wear rates and increasing engagement – metrics usually associated with the emotional, cultural, and social aspects of the job such as purpose, appreciation and positive relationships with management and leadership.

Something was wrong.

I knew that an onboarding program wouldn’t solve the business needs as a stand-alone solution. So I asked the customer two simple questions:

  1. Do you know why people leave
  2. What does your latest employee survey say?

Unfortunately, the customer either didn’t know the answers or couldn’t tell us. They just wanted the new onboarding program.

That answer spoke volumes. It told me that the customer:

  • I did not fully understand the needs of the stakeholders or the reasons for doing the business
  • The separation between the underlying business need, the desired outcomes and the solution could not be established
  • Hadn’t thought about how they would rate the program’s success

Most worryingly, the customer was willing to lose trust and credibility with the stakeholders by giving them what they wanted rather than what they needed.

What the stakeholder wants and what the stakeholder needs are often two very different things. As an L&D professional, it’s your job to help them tell the difference. You can do this by consulting with them and asking questions to understand what they want so that you can work out what they need together. As a bonus, you will build relationships, build credibility, and gain mutual trust throughout the process.

How do you advise your stakeholders? What are the right questions? And what do you need to know in order to steer the conversation and influence your decisions?

I have you covered! I’ve rounded up six questions you should ask your stakeholders every time they come to you with a training request to effectively (and quickly!) Determine business needs.

Six Stakeholder Analysis Questions to Identify Business Needs and Inform Your Learning Solutions

Question 1. What is the training need? (What triggered this request?)

All training needs are either about moving people forward Knowledge and Competencies or about their change behavior.

How do you get your stakeholders to talk about knowledge, skills and behaviors?

When your stakeholders come to you with solutions – and they will! – you need to direct the conversation to focus on the underlying problem. Take a look at this example.

Needs Analysis: What are the Training Needs?

When you ask your stakeholders to describe what is going on, they need to respond in a way that takes performance into account:

Receive stakeholder feedback for needs analysis

The information you have now is so much more revealing than what you started with. You now have a better sense of the specific problem and who it is affecting. It still doesn’t show the full picture, but you now have a starting point to explore the need further with the stakeholders.

Question 2. What are the desired results? (What does success look like?)

The results you want are different from, but are related to, the learning objectives that ultimately drive your solution design.

As with the learning objectives, the desired outcomes should be observable or measurable. They differ in that learning objectives are usually linked to knowledge, skills, or behavior, while the desired outcomes relate to the business outcomes and impact.

Needs analysis: what are the desired outcomes?

If you can define that clearly desired resultsyou have a greater chance of developing a solution that makes this possible Creating value and creating an impact on the business. And when you can do these things, you will gain the trust and credibility you deserve!

Question 3. Who is the target group?

Knowing who the target audience is can prepare you to analyze the learning audience. You can also determine whether you need to adapt your solution for different audiences.

If your audience is limited to the members of a group or team, you know that you can tailor the content and message specifically for them. However, if your stakeholder identifies more than one target audience, then you need to ask yourself if there is a primary audience in that group, and if so, who are the secondary and tertiary audiences. This is a great way to ensure that your primary audience needs are met first. You can then adapt the content to the other audiences as needed

Question 4. What should they (the target group) do?

This question actually consists of two disguised questions. How? As soon as you ask, “What should they (the target group) do?” I guarantee your stakeholders won’t be able to resist telling you what they’re doing too. And when you know the answer to those two questions, you have your performance gap. And when you know your performance gap, you can define the learning objectives. Bingo!

Question 5. How will we measure success?

Now that you know the results and performance gaps you want, you can plan how to measure success after identifying the business needs.

Remember that you are still in the analysis phase. All you need to determine now is that Assessment strategy that you are going to use. Suppose you are using the Kirkpatrick model [1]Will it be level 1, 2, 3, 4 or a combination?

This is the time to hone your counseling game. Use your expertise to inform, guide and influence the stakeholders to choose the most appropriate and robust strategy.

How do we measure success after a needs analysis?

To share your decision, discuss the following:

  • Rating options: Share examples of the types of activity you want to measure at each level.
  • Benefits of evaluation at any level: Show the insights and results that each assessment level will deliver.
  • Effort at every level: Identify what might be required to design, develop, and implement the activity or approach. Don’t forget to consider what it takes to collect and analyze the results.
  • Risks of not making an assessment: (This is the big one, and it helps sway decision-making.) Emphasize the value of the assessment strategy by figuring out what it is about when you are not measuring results or impact.

In Chapter 1 of our new manual, The Needs Analysis Playbook, you will find more tips and tools to help you with your assessment interview.

Question 6. What could enable or impair the success of the solution?

The final question from the stakeholders relates to the application of learning. As learner professionals, we spend most of our time thinking about success in terms of outcomes and impact. All of the stakeholder analysis questions I’ve shared so far have focused on just that. However, we sometimes forget to think about factors outside of the solution that may enable or affect its success.

Interestingly, the things that enable success can also be obstacles.

Internal enablers and barriers are the factors that the learner can influence This can determine whether the learner is ready to apply the learning, such as E.g. his / her ways of thinking, attitudes and beliefs.

What could enable or impair the success of the solution?

Changing people’s attitudes is not easy. However, you can change your mindset and acknowledge and influence people’s beliefs. You just have to know what they are first.

External enablers and barriers are the factors that are beyond the control of the learner This can determine whether the learner is able to apply the learning, such as E.g .: policies and procedures, systems and tools, culture and people.

Identifying business needs: External enablers and barriers are the factors that are beyond the control of learners

If any of these obstacles arise, you need to discuss them with your stakeholders and see if you can remove them or work around them.

Identify the business need – and determine if the training meets the need

Think of the answers to these six questions as your North Star. The knowledge and insights that you capture here control everything that follows – not only in the remainder of the needs analysis itself, but also during the entire process of designing, developing, implementing and evaluating your learning solution.

The stakeholder analysis shows you:

  • What drove the business need– and what is the problem you are trying to solve
  • What are the desired results– and what success looks like
  • Who is the target group?– and whether you need to consider the needs of other target groups now or later
  • What are the performance gaps?– and what should your learning goals be
  • What assessment strategy do you need to implement?– and how you will measure success

Above all, stakeholder analysis gives you the answer to the $ 10 million question: will training solve the problem? And what, if anything, do you need to ensure success (business champions, change management strategies, updates to policies or procedures, changes in mindset, etc.)?

Use these six questions to begin your needs assessment, identify business needs, and build trust with your stakeholders.


Do you need further help with your needs analysis? Check out our eBook, The playbook for needs analysis: How to make L&D a trustworthy partner in your company, for a detailed guide to the process. With advice, tips and tricks, and step-by-step instructions, we’ll show you how to improve your learning solution designs and get that all-important stakeholder buy-in.



eBook Publication: SweetRush


Our job is to help you achieve your goals and be successful. Involve us at any time, from analysis to customer-specific development (including e-learning, mobile, gamification and ILT) to evaluation.

Post a Comment

You don't have permission to register