Needs assessment diagnoses current problems and future challenges to be met through training and development. For example, competitive pressure or a change in the organization’s strategy may lead to downsizing and the restructuring that accompanies it. As a result, the remaining employees may need to be more broadly trained. The comments of one training director illustrate how the external environment affects training.
ADA After the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 changed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, we had to train every interviewer in the personnel department. This training was needed to ensure that our interviewers would not ask questions that might violate federal laws. When managers in other departments heard of the training, they too wanted to sign up. We decided that since they interviewed recruits, they should also be trained. What was to be a one-time seminar became a monthly session for nearly three years.
Although training is not an organizational cure-all, undesirable trends may provide evidence of a poorly prepared workforce. Thus, needs assessment must consider each person. The individual employee’s needs may be determined by the HR department, by supervisors, or by self-nomination. To pinpoint the range of training needs and define their content, the HR department uses different approaches to needs assessment. It may survey potential trainees to identify specific topics about which they want to learn more; this suggests that trainees are more likely to be receptive to the resulting programs when they are viewed as relevant. Of course, this approach presumes that those surveyed know what training they need. For new employees at Coming, for example, this method is not likely to be successful, but for the