Beth McGoldrick is an instructional designer and author of Needs Assessment Basics, 2nd Edition. She has more than 18 years of experience in training and development in the insurance industry and academia, and has won awards for training projects she designed and developed. In this Q&A podcast, I spoke with Beth about the nuts and bolts of needs assessment, as well as some of the new information in the latest installment of this ATD Press book.
For starters, we discussed why needs assessment is so important. If you’re like many professionals in our industry, you may be pressured to give an immediate “yes” to a training request. Instead, says Beth, we need to start playing an essential role in driving our organizations forward by using needs assessment to target training programs to support critical business goals.
“If we don’t know what the real problem is, we’re not going to come up with the right solution,” she explains. Beth advises L&D professionals to take a step back and question: What’s really going on? What’s going to make an impact on the business?
Each problem is different, though. So to drill down into each problem to find a solution, L&D will need to pull together specific data. And although there is no single formula for a needs assessment, there are some general issues that need to be covered. Fortunately, Needs Assessment Basics, 2nd Edition can guide you all the way through data collection to making training recommendations. The bottom line, says Beth, is to ask a lot of questions—and then ask some more questions.