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Baseline approach

first_imgPaulKearns explains an effective tool for developing training needs analysis,evaluation and performance measurementTwoof the most difficult jobs for any training professional are accurate,individual training needs analysis (TNA) and convincing outcome evaluation.Unfortunatelymany internal customers do not appreciate the time and skill involved, which iswhy they often just ask for quick-fix training solutions. Thissituation can be very frustrating for trainers who want to do a highly professionaljob. More importantly, any training delivered as a result of insufficientanalysis is likely to be much less effective. However, this tool offers asimple, practical and effective solution. It serves three main purposes:–Helping the trainer cover TNA and evaluation questions simultaneously–Ensuring the internal customer becomes fully involved in the training process–Linking training directly to measured employee performanceItis called the Baseline Approach because it emphasises pre-training, baselineperformance measures before any training solution is offered. The toolcomprises two separate techniques.  Technique1The eight-step TNAThefirst technique is a series of questions that should be used at the outset ofany training discussions with your customer. Try to stick as closely to thesesteps as possible. If you skip any steps or are fobbed off by an impatientmanager do not be surprised if subsequent training fails to deliver.1.Identify the business gapBeforeyou actually look at training needs you need to establish that a business “gap”has been identified. This can fall into two broad categories (see also theToolbox in Training, October 1999): –A– There is a basic operational need (for example, people need to be trained touse the new accounting system, staff need basic product knowledge) in whichcase move straight to Step 3.B– There is a need for performance improvement (for example, the business planis looking for reduced costs, an improvement in productivity or quality.)2.Calculate the £ signAnyimprovement gap identified at Step 1 should be quickly converted to a financialvalue (for example, a 10 per cent reduction in error rates would equate toapproximately £100,000 cost saving per annum, improved efficiency in administrationmight be worth £20,000 in overtime or salary savings). This figure helps todecide how much can be spent on training and immediately highlights the rightevaluation measure.3.The target “audience”Whichemployees need to use the new accounting system? Who will be involved in theerror reduction programme? Are you looking at data entry clerks, supervisors ormanagers? The training needs of each group will be very different.4.Size the “audience”Onceyou have established the type of audience, the numbers involved need to beestimated with a reasonable amount of accuracy. Large numbers may require avery different design to a small group. How many employees will be involved intotal? Does the evaluated benefit in Step 2 justify the potential cost?5.Establish existing employee performance measuresHaveyou already collected performance measures for each employee? In the case ofthe accounting system, some may already know how to use it. With errorreduction some people obviously make more errors than others. If thisinformation is not available the customer must start to collect it before we goany further. This is the key, baseline data.6.Produce the performance curve (see Technique 2 below)Oncethe performance measures are in place for each employee (1 equals many errors,10 equals very few errors) we can construct the curve. The customer must saywhere the goalposts are (for example, 3 and 8) for unacceptable, acceptable andsuperior performance levels.7.Address each performance gapThecurve is very revealing. Do all employees know where they are in relation tothe rest of the team? Are the causes of under-performance all to do withtraining? Could the superior performers coach the under-performers? What doessomeone with a 4 have to do to achieve a 5? The curve is an excellent basis fora true, individual TNA.  Also, it is themanager’s own assessment criteria which are being used; this generates greaterownership.8.Design the training solutionYouare now ready to move on to the next stage, which is designing a variety oftraining solutions to address all individual needs. However, the added benefitsof the Baseline Approach are that:–The evaluation measures are the customer’s responsibility, not the trainer’s.–Their commitment to training has been well tested–The customer is now totally involved in the training solutionTechnique2Producing the employee performance curveAlltraining needs discussions should be approached from a performance perspective.After all, the whole point of training is to improve the performance standardof the trainees. In the case of the brand new accounting system everyone has tobe trained how to use it but a standard should be set to make sure the systemis used properly. Inthe case of the quality improvement initiative, asking the question “how arethe target group performing in terms of error rates” can be very revealing. Ifthe manager does not have existing data on individuals then there is nobaseline to work from. This data needs to be collected before the training isdesigned.Askingthe manager to produce this data will:–Check whether there really is a performance gap–Force the manager to agree what constitutes unacceptable, acceptable andsuperior performance–Allow a time limit to be set for bringing all underperformers up to therequired standard–Make any subsequent evaluation easy by revisiting the same measures to show ashift in the overall performance curve, as the baseline measures are agreed“up-front”.Thissame approach can be used quickly and easily with competence assessments andeven soft skills training where an initial assessment of baseline soft skillsperformance measures are collected. Onefinal comment: if your customer does not want to take part in this exercise, thenyou have to ask yourself how committed they are to the training.PaulKearns is a training and performance measurement specialist at Personnel Works(0117-914 6984). His books, Measuring and Managing Employee Performance andMeasuring the Impact of Training and Development on the Bottom Line areavailable from www.hr-expert.com. Paulis currently judging the TD2000 Award to find the UK’s Top Training team Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Baseline approachOn 1 May 2000 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more