How has performance success for your learners and the organization changed in the past three years? Do your customers need different services or products? Do employees have a different metric for achievement? Contemplating these questions will help you reevaluate your needs assessment or training needs assessment for today’s work world.
In “Reassess Needs in a Hybrid Work World,” Beth McGoldrick explains why learning and development professionals need to revisit their needs assessment, how to get buy-in from leaders, and how to acquire the information they need from learners and other stakeholders to get to the root cause of the development need.
Why and How Needs Assessments Have ChangedIn the past, our development solutions had often remained consistent for years. For example, the annual sales kickoff was an event for sales personnel to unite, celebrate past success, learn about new products and solutions, and prepare for the coming year. In today’s world, some staff may not be in person for the kickoff as they had been in the past. An organization also may have had a great number of staff leave during the Great Resignation. And employees also may be working remotely, causing new challenges for managers in overseeing their direct reports and for employees in the tools they must use to communicate with colleagues and customers.
How will you collect the information from employees, managers, leaders, and customers to determine and create the L&D solution? Previously, you may have listened in on sales calls in person, gleaned information through an informal chat in the breakroom, or sat in as a product manager provided an update on their new line of merchandise.
You must determine what the new performance success looks like and how you’ll find the relevant information.
Communicating With Leaders During the L&D ProjectSecuring a sponsor for your L&D initiative is always critical. How will you go about doing so when you don’t have the opportunity to sit down face-to-face with a senior leader?
It may be trickier to ascertain who sees the learning challenge and understands that the solution will likely be different than previously. Asking questions will help lead you to your success as an L&D professional. Who has influence? What is the vision for the company’s future? What does the sponsor need to share with other leaders, and what is the environment when they do so?
Further, what is the environment when you communicate with the sponsor or leaders about your proposed solution? What level of detail do they want, and in what fashion? Does the leader want facts and figures via PowerPoint, or do they want a narrative presented orally? Does the leader have a gatekeeper you’ll need to go through to schedule time with them? Will you be asked to come to the leader face-to-face?
Perfection Is the EnemyThe way we work and live is going to continue to evolve at a rapid pace. As McGoldrick writes, “The world of work likely isn’t going back to the way it once was, and the talent development profession will be vital to assisting organizations in building the new world of working. An agile methodology, design thinking, and a growth mindset will come in handy.”
Collect data and ideate on possible solutions, then bring your ideas together to build a minimally viable product. Don’t be afraid of failure, encourages McGoldrick. You’ll learn from what doesn’t work and produce better ideas next time.