How to identify training needs


  1. Review your business objectives and identify critical activities.
  2. Set measurable performance standards, for example, measures of production efficiency or marketing success.
  3. Monitor performance to identify problem areas.
  4. Get feedback from customers, suppliers and other key business partners; consider using interviews or surveys in areas such as customer satisfaction.
  5. Ask employees to raise concerns and make suggestions; include discussion of training needs in employee performance management.
  6. Identify any dependencies, for example, where only one employee has crucial skills or knowledge.
  7. Review any legal requirements such as health and safety training.
  8. Review any changes you plan or expect (eg new products, procedures or technologies); identify potential weaknesses and problems.
  9. Consider how employees' roles may change: for example, your plans to promote individuals and to develop new employees.
  10. Prioritise problem areas or areas of weakness.
  11. Consider how improving systems or equipment could contribute to resolving problems.
  12. Consider whether poor performance reflects bad management, for example, a failure to agree clear objectives and motivate employees.
  13. Consider whether you have unrealistic expectations given the calibre or number of employees, and if you need to recruit new talent or reassign roles.
  14. Consider whether training will be an effective solution; assess employees' willingness to learn, and preferred learning style.
  15. Identify training options; set clear objectives for training activities.
  16. Implement a pilot training scheme and review the outcome before rolling the programme out.
  17. Regularly review the outcome of training to identify further training needs and to assess the effectiveness of your training-needs analysis.

Cardinal rules


  1. focus on critical activities
  2. anticipate change
  3. analyse the causes of poor performance
  4. identify alternatives to training
  5. review outcomes


  1. assume different employees have the same needs
  2. expect employees to achieve unrealistic goals, with or without training
  3. ignore other factors contributing to poor performance
  4. organise training without clear objectives
  5. impose inappropriate training on unwilling employees