Canada Association of Tourism Employees

Wants Evaluation Evaluation: How To Discover Abilities Gaps

Work with the company to fill in the gaps

There are many reasons for exercising. Some are straightforward, such as the need to teach people new methods, processes, tools, or systems. Others are more nuanced, such as the desire to improve leadership, customer service, soft skills, or other areas of behavior. All training needs are either about improving people’s knowledge and skills or changing their performance, or both. As L&D experts, our job is to pinpoint where the knowledge, skill and performance gaps lie so that we can find the most appropriate way to fill them.

Notice how I said “help tell exactly”? That’s because we don’t do this in a silo. The needs assessment process – the method we use to locate the gaps – requires input and collaboration from both stakeholders and learners.

Let’s start with the stakeholders.

eBook Release: The Needs Analysis Playbook: How to make L&D a trustworthy partner in your company

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.

Show the big picture with a stakeholder analysis

Show the big picture with a stakeholder analysis

Stakeholders typically turn to L&D with solutions (e.g. my team needs CRM training) rather than specific performance issues.

The first step in understanding the knowledge, skills, or performance gaps is to take a step back and ask the stakeholders a few questions to find out:

What drove the need? Find out what prompted the stakeholder to reach out to L&D with this need. What have you noticed about the performance of your team and what impact is that performance having on the business?

What are the desired results? During the needs assessment, ask stakeholders how the solution will affect the business. What business outcomes should you expect after implementing the solution? Drive your stakeholders towards measurable or observable results – for example, increase the visibility and accuracy of the sales pipeline or increase the customer experience by 10%.

What should they (the target group) do? Now that you have a little more information about the problem and the changes stakeholders are hoping for at the company level, you can move on to the specific knowledge, skills, and performance gaps.

And you can do this by asking just one question, “What should they (the target audience) do?”

If you ask this question, the stakeholders cannot resist telling you what they are doing too. And when you know the answer to these two questions, you have your knowledge, skills, and performance gaps! Bingo!

Who does it concern? Stakeholders will often tell you that everyone needs training. That’s fair enough when you’re introducing brand new skills or tools. However, if the training requirement is specific to an existing performance issue, then it’s really important to determine who it specifically affects. This can give you clues as to what might be causing the problem.

These stakeholder questions should give you what you need to uncover the knowledge, skills, and performance gaps. In Chapter 1 of our latest guide, The Needs Analysis Playbook, we take a closer look at stakeholder analysis and provide step-by-step instructions to help you conduct your own needs analysis.

Drill down into the details with an analysis of the learner audience

Drill down into the details with an analysis of the learner audience

Consider the stakeholder analysis as a starting point for your needs analysis. For more information on what can lead to knowledge, skill, and performance gaps, you need to go straight to the source and talk to learners.

Who should I meet with?

Your aim is to take a representative sample of the target group of learners. The larger your audience, the larger the sample should be. Work with stakeholders and managers to identify suitable candidates.

You want to strike a balance between finding more experienced / experienced people to talk to and those who are newer / less experienced. Each group will bring different perspectives.

Who should I meet with?

Once you’ve figured out who is who, arrange separate meetings with each group based on their level of experience. This is important because newer or less experienced people tend to repeat or agree with their more experienced peers. This is not helpful when you are trying to pinpoint a specific performance problem.

You need to get authentic, reliable insights and data about the performance issues, not what people think they should do – or worse, what they think you want to hear.

Here are the questions to focus on when analyzing needs with your learning audience:

What do you already know and what can you already do?

Find out what the learning audience already knows and what they can do – and what, if anything, enables or hinders their performance.

  • For the performance gaps You want to find out if the gaps are the same for each learner. And if the gaps are different, what about each person? What, if anything, could cause these gaps to be different?
  • For the enablers and barriers They want to find out what, if anything, helps or hampers their performance. This can include internal factors such as attitudes, mindsets, or beliefs, or external factors such as people, processes, policies, systems, and tools.

What formal or informal training did they have or need to do this job? When did this training take place? How did it help? This will help you determine if training was offered, who it was provided to, when it was given – and therefore if there are different versions – and how effective it was.

What tools or people do they rely on, if any, to get this job done? Find out if they need additional support – from job aids or even from colleagues or managers – to get the job done.

How do you know when the task was completed correctly? Learn if they can tell when a task has completed successfully and if they have clear guidelines for making that judgment or decision.

What is there about the task that you find easy or difficult? This will help you understand where people who are less sure or experienced may get stuck.

How would you rate your competence and your confidence in the accomplishment of this task? How did you come to this conclusion? This will help you compare and compare your results with those of other learners. It will also help you identify potential SME candidates!

Instead of grilling learners for information that may make them nervous or make them feel like they’re doing something wrong, respond curiously to your questions. Our new guide, The Needs Analysis Playbook, has tips on how to style your questions so they don’t feel like an interrogation.

These questions should give you a good idea of ​​the knowledge, skills and performance gaps. If you need to dig even deeper, you can use other methods, such as:

  • Job shadowing or observation
  • Job Task Inventory
  • Use of resources such as competence frameworks, standard operating procedures and guidelines to compare and contrast expectations and reality

One thing to keep in mind throughout the needs assessment process is this: What is causing the gap? And will the training as a stand-alone solution fill the gap or are additional instruments and measures required to ensure success?

Close the knowledge, competence and performance gaps with a needs analysis

Effective training is about closing knowledge, skills and performance gaps. Before you can fill in any gaps, you need to know what they are. Conduct a needs assessment and seek input from stakeholders and learners to find out what specific gaps exist, who they affect and what may be causing them.

Do you need more help uncovering performance gaps? Let our eBook, The playbook for needs analysis: How to make L&D a trustworthy partner in your company, be your guide. With advice, tips and tricks, and step-by-step instructions on how to find and fix gaps, this invaluable resource will become your trusted companion.

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.

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