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1-15 July 2007  
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Home - Pharma Life - Article

Book Extract

‘Higher value products are driving growth'

There are two approaches (proactive and reactive) to training need analysis (TNA)

Proactive TNA

The proactive TNA focuses on future human resource requirements. The HR function needs to be involved in the development of a strategic plan (SWOT analysis). From the resulting unit objectives, HR must develop unit strategies and tactics to be sure the organisation has employees with the required KSAs (Knowledge, Skills and Abilities) in each of the critical jobs based on future KSA requirements. Two approaches can be taken to develop needed KSAs.

  • Prepare employees for promotions/ transfers to different jobs.
  • Prepare employees for changes in their current jobs.

An effective, proactive procedure used for promotions and transfers is succession planning. Succession planning is the identification and development of employees who are perceived to be of high potential. The first step in development of a succession plan is to identify key positions in the organisation. These positions, if left vacant for any length of time, would negatively affect organisational functioning. In practice, these positions often are high-level management positions such as vice president of finance, plant manager and so forth, but they could be at any level (e.g., mould-maker if the position is key to the operation and difficult to fill). Once the positions are identified, employees with the potential to fill these key positions are identified. Information is then provided on employees’ readiness to fill the position if it becomes vacant. This information becomes the TNA.

When preparing employees for change in their current jobs, it is important that the TNA identify the changes that are expected based on strategic objectives. Once expected changes are determined, new KSAs required for that job can be identified. These future KSAs can be compared with the incumbent’s current KSAs, and any resulting discrepancies can then be addressed through training.

Consider Heinz. When they determined that they would be moving to a high-tech ketchup machine, it was necessary to determine what KSAs would be necessary to operate it. Training in these KSAs then occurred before the new equipment was in place.

Organisational analysis

The proactive approach starts with the strategic plan and objectives. The analyst tries to determine the best fit between the organisation’s current internal environment (structures, policies, procedures, etc.) and the future expectations. Questions regarding the formal structure might include the following:

  • Are pay practices congruent with the new direction taken by the company? Example. Would a strict hourly pay structure fit if the plan was to treat each department as entrepreneurial?
  • Is the emphasis of the new priorities congruent with the performance appraisal system? Example: If the priority is quality, does the performance appraisal have a dimension to measure this?
  • Is the strategy congruent with the current practices? Example: The new strategy is to move to a more positive union-management relationship. Currently, a policy does not allow any union business to be conducted on company time. Should this policy be revisited?
  • Are enough employees available to accomplish the objective? Example: You plan to improve quality to meet ISO 9000 standards, but are constantly rushed because of a lack of personnel.

Informal procedures might be evaluated with the following questions:

  • Are norms in place that would restrict output?
  • Will workers believe that changes in performance are required?
  • What formal procedures are short-circuited by informal procedures, and what are the implications (perhaps the formal procedure is inappropriate)?

These questions need to be asked at all levels in the organisation, but specifically at the departmental level where more meaningful data will be found. Often those in higher levels of management take a different view of the impact of various policies on behaviour.

Operational analysis

Jobs are dynamic, always changing over time. Today, however, the changes in some jobs are much more dramatic than in the past. Employees need to be prepared for these changes. The job analyst must gather information not only on what tasks are done, but also on what tasks will be required in the future.

This strategic jobs analysis is defined as identifying the KSAs required for effective performance in a job analysis, with the addition of a section called “gather information on the future”. For this section you need to look at changes in areas of societal values, political / legal issues, economics/market/ labor, technology, and others, and how those changes would affect the job in question. In this case, you need input from more than just incumbents and supervisors, including the following:

  • At least one person responsible for corporate strategy and closely tied to the job in question
  • Someone who is aware of how the competition structures the job (technologically and from a human resource standpoint)
  • An efficiency expert (internal technology/communication expert)
  • Someone who worked his or her way up through the job in question
  • A forward-thinking incumbent (one willing to suggest new ideas)

This list is not exhaustive and serves only as a guide. Once you gather these data, you can complete a revision of the tasks and KSAs based on these changes. The training function then uses this information coupled with person analysis to determine future training needs.

The previous discussion about what to do if no job incumbents are available is helpful here. In reality no job incumbents exist if the job will change in substantial ways.

At first this task seem rather horrendous—and if the organisation is doing it for the first time, it is. The first step is to identify the critical jobs.

For example, if the primary function of the organisation is writing software, the computer programmers’ job will be more critical to the effectiveness of the organisation than the file clerks’ and should be examined first. Likewise, if the organisation is making parts for the automative industry, mouldmaking might be a critical job.

Person analysis

Assessment of the person (does she have the required KSAs?) is identical for the proactive or reactive TNA, and so the information presented earlier on person analysis is applicable.

In the reactive TNA, you still conduct the organisation analysis, operational analysis, and person analysis, but the distinction among them is even more blurred for the following reasons.

  • The focus is primarily on the one department
  • Those who demonstrate the discrepancy (and their peers and subordinates) are the key persons to be interviewed about all three components
  • The discrepancy focuses the issue on a particular part of the job (e.g. interactions with sub-ordinates as previously noted).

Organisational analysis deals with the three issues. Even if a lack of KSAs is identified as a problem, other roadblocks may still be in place that will prevent performance even if the KSAs are learned.

Excerpt from ‘Effective Training: Systems, Strategies, and Practices’ by P Nick Blanchard and James W Thacker. Published by Pearson Education


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