Needs Assessment Tips

Posted by - Akarsh Thakur

Creating the appropriate training program for an organization or business is a big responsibility. Your client’s time and money are at stake and they are relying on you, the training provider, to determine what they need. A great way to do that is through surveys. But how do you create a good survey to generate the results you are looking for?


1. Don’t write a book.
Today, management and staff have limited time to waste so when writing a survey, don’t go on and on and on….keep it brief. Brainstorm and write and down all the questions you might want to ask, then review the list and go with only the absolutely most important.

2. Avoid two part questions.
When creating a question, include only one topic at a time and split the question into two separate questions if necessary.

As the surveyor, you can be sure which question they are answering and will avoid the risk of your surveyee skipping one of the questions.


Poor Format: - Have you had computer training and if so, what courses have you completed?

Better Format: Question 1: Have you had computer training?
Question 2: What courses have you completed?

3. Keep each question as brief as possible.
Long sentences run the risk of losing your participants' attention and create a bigger chance of causing confusion.

Poor Format: For your position, do you focus more on paperwork, hands-on activities, technical duties, customer service, or management responsibilities?

Better Format: For your position, what type of skills do you focus on?

4. Avoid leading questions.
Write the question in such a way that your client will be free to answer what they truly FEEL rather than forcing them to provide what you THINK they need.

Poor Format: Will the staff benefit from Microsoft Access computer training?

Better Format: What types of computer training will your staff benefit from?

5. Provide clear, to the point, instructions at the top of the survey.
To net good results, don’t just assume the person filling out the survey knows what you are looking for. They may perceive things incorrectly or may try to fill out your survey based on the format of other surveys they’ve taken. Make it clear from the beginning otherwise your results may not be accurate.

Poor Format: Please circle the numbers 1 through 5.

Better Format: Please circle the numbers 1 through 5 with 1 being the least likely and 5 being the most likely.

Effective Training Needs Assessment Questions

6. Do not limit yourself to one type of question throughout the entire survey.

Utilize varying formats to extract the appropriate information. Types of popular survey questions include:

a) Rate the topic on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being the least likely and 5 being the most likely. Example: As a manager, PowerPoint training would benefit me during my presentations 1 2 3 4 5

b) Check all that apply

Example: As a manager, I could use the following computer software training:

_____ Microsoft Word

_____ Microsoft Excel

_____ Microsoft PowerPoint

_____ Microsoft Access

_____ Microsoft Publisher

_____ Email/Internet Usage

c) Choose one of the following

Example: As a manager, I supervise a team of:

_____ 1-20

_____ 21-50

_____ 51-100

_____ 100+

d) Open-ended questions that allow the participants to fill in one to two sentences.

Example: As a manager, what training would help you most effectively do your job?

e) Essay questions

Example: In one page or less, describe your duties as a manager.

7. Provide the survey in a way that is most convenient to your client.

There are several ways to have a survey completed. You can go to your client’s location and distribute it to them or have the client come to your location to ensure they’ll have the quiet time they’ll need to focus on providing accurate answers. Additionally, you can mail them hard copies or attach them in an email for them to download and print out at their convenience.

8. Consider building online surveys.
There are many survey sites on the web that help you easily create surveys. For a small fee, you can set up an account, create the survey and send a link to your client inviting them to fill out the survey online from whatever location they choose. This creates freedom to do it from their work office or even their home if they’d like. Many survey companies even tally up results, allowing you to analyze and export various types of data.

 

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