Training needs analysis (TNA) is a formal method for gathering the training needs of employees at a company in order to design a training program for them to cater for such needs.
A similar, yet less formal, approach to designing training programs for the corporate and non-corporate worlds is to start by identifying a problem that people are greatly suffering from then attempt to design a training program that would help in solving such problem. The beauty of such approach is that it guards against creating and delivering a training course that is not needed by people and does not actually have any practical benefit for them in real life save only perhaps for their enjoyment as they have fun during the time of the training program.
After identifying a strong problem that people are suffering from, on an individual level, on the company level or on the community, level the training program designer then sets about to list a number of training objectives for the training program that would help in remedying the identified problems. The set of training objectives can be listed under the following three categories: knowledge; skills and behavior.
Most traditional training courses have been focusing more heavily on knowledge objectives. Such programs intend to cram as much information as possible about the subject matter in the minds of attendees and aims at having them memorize such information and ultimately understand it.
More advanced training programs shift the focus from knowledge objectives to skills objectives. The main focus of the training program thus becomes to equip trainees with the necessary skills to perform various activities in the real world. Minimal focus may be given to the amount of information transferred directly in such a training program. Such highly interactive and practical training courses overcome the problems faced by knowledge focused programs which produce a trainee that has a lot of knowledge yet lacks the abilities of putting such knowledge into practice in the real world.
A trainee who has gained specific skills may still suffer from the lack of desire to actually apply such gained skills. Here comes the role of the third and final element in the 3 groups of training objectives which is behavior. Some like to call it attitude rather than behavior. Some even go a step further and refer to the third element as beliefs. The reasoning behind this being that beliefs directly influence behavior. Behavior and beliefs can be considered as actually two sides of the same coin. Training programs that focus on shifting beliefs and influencing behavior are the most effective and long lasting. They can make enormous change in a trainee in a very short period of time.
No matter what the focus of a training program is be it on knowledge, skills or behavior, objectives of an effective training program should be based on the actual needs of the people and should help solve a real problem that people are actually suffering from.
Which courses do you think will benefit more form a knowledge-centered training program rather than one centered on changing attitude or developing skills?