Many HR industry experts have suggested regular leadership training as a strategy for retaining employees. Effective leadership training can make people stay with their current employers because it motivates participants to excel, explore their opportunities within the company and interact with their co-workers. Also, when companies invest in their employees’ personal and professional development, employees form a strong sense of loyalty and gratitude. However, conducting leadership training is one thing; executing effective results-oriented leadership training is another.

Needs Assessment is Central to Successful Training

One of the factors that lead to fruitful training programs is the needs assessment.A needs assessment is a tool to help organizations identify an individual’s pre-training knowledge, skills and attitude. The outcome of the assessment will help organizers determine if training is really necessary and to what extent. Specifically, it aims to do the following:

  1. Identify problems and issues within the company. A needs assessment usually focuses on a range of organizational issues, such as work practices, employee attitudes, management and leadership styles as well as company culture.
  2. Validate the need for training upper management. The results of the needs assessment will help high-level managers and HR specialists decide whether planning and implementing leadership training is imperative or not.
  3. Collect data that will help in measuring training effectiveness. The results of the needs assessment will guide organizers in developing training objectives. The assessment will also influence overall program design and implementation.
  4. Ensure that the benefits outweigh the costs. A needs assessment will provide companies with a ballpark figure of potential expenditure. By weighing the advantages of the training alongside the resources that will be used, organizers can determine feasibility and practicality.

A needs assessment can be likened to a medical diagnosis where the doctor identifies and examines symptoms of the ailing patient in order to prescribe the correct medication.

Gathering Data for Needs Assessment

The first step in needs assessment is identifying the intellectual, technical and behavioral needs of the would-be trainees. This can be done directly or indirectly. A direct assessment entails talking to the target participants, finding out what they need and determining the training approach that will suit them. Meanwhile, an indirect assessment entails discreet or subtle data gathering. The advantage of this method is that the information collected will be less biased.

Data should be analyzed immediately to identify leadership gaps. The analysis will also help organizers narrow the training focus, which in turn will allow target participants to master specific leadership competencies. The results of the needs assessment should be used not only in developing the leadership training program, but also in improving organizational protocols and processes.

Responding to the Needs

After analyzing assessment data, organizers can start developing the leadership training program. They now know the possible candidates for leadership training, what content should be highlighted in the modules, how the training should be designed and where it should be conducted, among others. During analysis, organizers may also encounter an array of issues that can be solved without having to conduct leadership training. Companies can also respond to leadership-related concerns through clarification of roles and responsibilities, transparency in communication and review of organizational policies.

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