How well are your employees fulfilling their roles/positions in your organization? And what are the “fulfilling well” benchmarks anyway? Using the tools of skills gap analysis and training needs analysis/assessment can help ensure that you accurately measure your employees’ job performance.
Let’s start by clarifying these two terms which, by the way, is not a simple task. If you look around on the internet, you will find various definitions. Some of them are in conflict with each other. Here’s what they will mean in this article…
What is a skills gap analysis?
This tool focuses on the individual employee. It measures what they must learn in order to get from where they are now to where they need to be.
Skills gap analysis examples
- Hospital personnel who do not have the vocabulary/terminology needed to discuss a new surgical procedure.
- Landscapers in a garden design company do not show the technical skills required for safely operating landscaping machinery.
- Online, call center operators whose level of interpersonal skills is not up to the company standard.
What is a training needs analysis or assessment?
This is a measure of the knowledge and skills a role requires. The main purpose of the training needs analysis—or TNA—is to describe how this particular position relates to the organization’s overarching framework. This analysis/assessment is also known as a training profile.
Examples of training needs
- The set of knowledge + skills needed to discuss a new surgical procedure. One of the elements is needed vocabulary (our skills gap example above).
- Everything needed to perform excellently as a landscaper. Part of that knowledge is the safe operation of needed machinery (our skills gap example above).
- What the call center operator needs to know in order to successfully answer caller questions and requests for help. One aspect of that is interpersonal skills (our skills gap example above).
Overall, TNA describes the entire role: knowledge and skills. A skills gap analysis measures how well an individual is meeting the needs of that role and what (if anything) they need to learn in order to do better.
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A guide on assessing training needs
Again, a training needs analysis or assessment is an overall description of a role or position in your organization: what someone in that role needs NOW and what they will need in the near future (as much as you can predict).
Step 1: Setting standards based on the following three questions:
What does the employee need to know?
This is the basic knowledge (facts and figures) required to do the work in this role or position. For a sales person, for example, it will include product knowledge. Medical personnel will need relevant anatomical and physiological information among other things. As part of their knowledge, lawyers will need specific terminology.
Which skills does the employee need to have?
This category includes both hard and soft skills.
Continuing with our roles from the question above, here are some examples: Sales personnel will need to know how to operate your payment system(s) such as use a cash register or complete a credit card payment. Your medical employees must be able to operate any machinery used in their job, ultrasound machines for example. Lawyers have to be comfortable with searching for information in online law databases.
While this can be industry-specific, it is often similar over roles and organizations. These skills include interpersonal relations, teamwork, and management skills.
Which “thinking abilities” does the employee need to do?
This section focuses on the degree to which the individual needs to be independent and self-motivated in this particular position/role. Relevant questions include: To what degree should employees problem-solve? Should employees self-manage their time, including setting objectives and deadlines or will they be time-managed in another way? How proactive should the employees be? In other words, should they wait for others to encourage their production or should they be self-starters, able to push through as needed?
Step 2: Gathering Data
There are no hard and fast rules about how to do this. Rather, there is a set of methods of identifying internal training needs. Choose 2-3 which are best suited to your organization’s culture:
- Observe employees on the job – what are the common things they are doing and not doing?
- Interview your workers – what do they think their role/position includes…and DOESN’T include (“not in my job description”)?
- Ask employees about their jobs via questionnaires.
- Examine the work that they do – what is produced?
- Check out your competitors – what are their employees doing that your employees are not (both positive and negative)?
The data from these different methods will enable you to build up a picture of the role/position—what it looks like now and any changes you would like to make going forward.
Now that you know what a role/position looks like, you can measure how well individual employees are meeting the role’s requirements using a skills gap analysis.
How to do a skills gap analysis
Think: series of tests. The tests will cover all the points you have identified in your training needs analysis.
Continuing our training needs assessment examples from above (sales person, medical personnel, lawyer), these tests will include:
Sales people—an assessment of their product knowledge; measuring how well they operate the needed payment systems; determining to what degree their work character suits the role they are in.
Medical personnel—measuring the levels of their required knowledge of anatomy and physiology; assessing their proficiency in operating relevant machinery; determining to what degree their work character suits the role they are in.
Lawyers—checking their knowledge of specific terminology; measuring how able they are to search in online law databases; determining to what degree their work character suits the role they are in.
In other words, for each item in the training needs analysis/assessment, there will be a practical way to measure how well the employee is fulfilling that item.
How can EdApp help you with those procedures?
Both of these procedures, skills gap analyses and training needs assessments, are repetitive operations. They will be done again and again with current and future employees. In other words, you are looking to create “evergreen” procedures, which will perhaps require a few tweaks now and then.
Rapid authoring tools are your time-friendly, easy to use go-to’s.
For example, you can build a training needs assessment template. Then, you just need to make a copy for each role and make changes as needed. This is practical because many questions are going to be the same from role to role, questions such as:
- “List the top 20 keywords used in your job.”—the words the employees list will be different but the question is the same
- “Choose all the items of equipment/machinery which you use on a weekly basis.”—the multiple choice, “check off” list may be a little different from role to role but, again, the question remains the same
- “How proactive are you expected to be? Rate using a scale of 1-5, with 1 being not proactive at all and 5 being completely proactive.”—this item can be used “as is” for any role
With regard to skills gap analysis templates, rapid authoring can significantly reduce the time it takes to create tests for each training needs assessment point. Since these tests are more role-specific, they will not be as global as training needs assessment templates. However, building the individual tests will be faster and where applicable, you can copy/paste to cut down the time needed to create tests in other roles/positions.
It’s true—skills gap analyses and training needs assessments involve a lot of work.
That’s why many organizations never seem to find the time to get around to them. That’s their loss big time. Your organization can work smarter, especially with rapid authoring tools to support you.