Training and Development: 9 Ways to Find Out Where Your Employees Need Training

In order to use your training budget wisely, as a human resources manager you should base your training program on real needs and prioritize various available offers according to their importance and their potential impact.
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Training and development for employees is important because it ensures that your company keeps performing at a high level. In order to use your training budget wisely, however, as a human resources manager you should base your training program on real needs and prioritize various available offers according to their importance and their potential impact.

Therefore, best is to start with setting up a system that lets you identify where your employees need your support most. Here are nine different ways to do that.

1. Performance appraisalA performance appraisal is a formal process where a supervisor meets with his direct reports once or twice a year to discuss their overall performance. Aided by standardized appraisal forms, supervisor and employee review the time period since the last interview, discuss if and to which degree objectives were met, agree on new objectives for the next time period, and decide if the employee needs any support reaching those objectives. If these interviews are open and honest exchanges and take place in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, they can be a great tool for identifying opportunities for personal growth.

2. Evaluation by people managersApart from those one or two fixed dates where the performance appraisal interviews take place, it should be the responsibility of people managers to observe their direct reports, identify both weaknesses and strengths and evaluate if any action is advisable -- either to help employees overcome their weaknesses or to support them mature their strengths.

3. Critical incidentsAs the saying goes: Mistakes are opportunities for learning. Establish a corporate culture where negative outcomes, lack of success, failed projects, and individual mistakes are not used to play the blame game but instead examined to analyze what went wrong and why. Critical incidents often help uncover systematic weaknesses or learning potential.

4. Customer feedbackIf you take customer complaints seriously and methodically analyze how often particular questions get asked, you can use that information to deduce weaknesses in your processes -- and also insufficient skills or expertise of employees. And you don't have to wait for customers to come to you: If you have a suspicion that customers may not be satisfied with a specific area of your product or service, ask them for their review.

5. Employee requestsEncourage employees to come forward with training and development needs or suggestions. Make sure they know that you value them being proactive about their learning needs, that it isn't seen as a sign of weakness. And foster their willingness to learn independently by offering resources that are available to everyone, like an extensive eBook library.

6. Team workThe more people work with others, the more they reflect on their own skill set because they compare it to their peers. It helps everyone become more aware of their strengths and weaknesses. You can even encourage mutual feedback among team members.

7. QuestionnairesMany companies do annual employee surveys in which they ask employees to rate various work-related aspects of the company. If you do that as well, make sure you include questions about training needs and people's satisfaction with what you're currently offering. Alternatively, you could develop your own questionnaire -- just make sure you make it succinct, and comprehensible.

8. External expertsIf you seem to be in a rut, a fresh pair of eyes may help. There are numerous service providers out there who will take a look at your processes, org chart, existing training and development programs, etc. and then analyze their findings and come up with an action plan.

9. Tests and examinationsFor some skills, it could make sense to introduce tests to make sure people are up to the task they've been given. It's important, however, to communicate to employees that those tests are not supposed to put them under pressure but to help them get ready for the job before they have to do it.

If you would like to read more about the topic, then download the eBook Training and Development available at

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