1. Education
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Discuss in my forum

Assessment – Needs Assessment in the Workplace

A simple way to find the breakdown in communication.


There are a lot of scientific methods out there for assessing training or learning needs in the workplace, and sometimes it’s important to take that route, depending on what you’re assessing and how big your project is, but assessment does not have to be complicated.

One of the strategies I have found most useful in the workplace is a simple, although time intensive, interviewing process. You might call it a Process Improvement Discussion.

First, identify what seems to be the problem. What is wrong? Sometimes this information comes in the form of customer or employee complaints. Talk to Customer Service and Human Resources if they haven’t already come to you.

For example, why is it taking eight weeks for our product to reach the customer?

Identify Key People

Next, identify key people to interview at every level of the company. Every level, from the very top to the front-line employee. Make an appointment to see them.

Ask three simple questions and take good notes.

The Questions

Question 1: What do you need to do your job and where does it come from? (Okay, that’s two, but they go together.)

Question 2: What do you do with that information or product and how long does it take?

Question 3: Who is depending on you to provide whatever it is you do? Who do you give your information or product to?

One Big Process

We all depend on each other in the workplace. It’s all one big process with internal customers throughout the company. What we’re trying to learn here is where and how the process is breaking down.

Who isn’t getting what they need? Why can’t they do what they need to do once they get it? And why aren’t they providing their internal customer with whatever it is that person needs?

When you have all of that information, it’s usually pretty clear where the breakdown in communication is, and you can get busy providing the training necessary to remedy the situation. This training might be targeted at individuals or entire departments.

If you're writing your own course, course design is important. It, too, can be easy.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.