So if you’re a trainer like me, occasionally you get carried away researching exciting new people or ideas, eagerly compile information on three different models or approaches, amass an armload of handouts and materials, and then trip into the training setting … only to be met by blank stares and a few looks of distress.
Might remind you of the need for that pesky old needs assessment. You know, the one that would have told you that the goal of this group is not what you envisioned, that this group has a lot of participants whose preferred learning style is most definitely not abstract models, that this group doesn’t even recognize the issue your fancy models and ideas are addressing (awareness, attitudes – anyone?), or that this group really wanted some tools for a very particular type of situation which you aren’t prepared to address.
You, of course, are quick on your feet, and adjust your design on the fly … and sometimes we get away with it. And sometimes we don’t. And sometimes, at heart, we’re not sure we want to – because boy are those materials we pulled together awesome, these folks really need to get this.
Enter here, Paulo Freire and his critique of the banking model of education, where we trainers and teachers (or consultants, or managers, or …) fill the heads of our participants (or co-workers, or clients, or …) with what we care about, and implicitly, with our version of the current world. There is implicit in the trainer or consultant role something which can suggest that we decide what others need to learn or develop. And that doesn’t instill or nurture empowerment.
And so, fellow “experts,” let us put those handouts and models into our toolboxes, and close them up for a moment as we listen to those with whom we are working. What do they want to come out of their interaction with us, and which of our many tools will best serve that purpose?
There is good info out there on needs assessments. When I was co-teaching a course on Training Design, we used an excerpt of J. Barbazette’s Training Needs Assessment: Methods, Tools and Techniques. But there are some good resources on the internet, some of which look at needs assessments in a variety of non-training settings. Check these out:
- (Theoretical and practical info) http://www.needsassessment.org
- (Business settings) http://www.dirjournal.com/guides/how-to-conduct-a-training-needs-analysis/
Any recommended needs assessment resources to add? Welcome your comments and additions below.
And if you’d like support in doing a needs assessments in your organization or business, contact us – happy to see what we can contribute!