Planning Training for 2018: A 3-Tier Approach


Building a training plan for your organization can feel daunting. With multiple departments, levels, areas of expertise, organizational priorities, limited time and budgets, how do you even begin to break down where training will have the most impact and ROI?

Simplify the process with a Training Needs Assessment. Once you’ve done this, you can break down the results into 3 more manageable chunks.

The Training Needs Assessment’s Positive Impact

Determining training needs requires you to go out and ask stakeholders from employees to management what training they need, what are the skills gaps, and how do these training needs align with organizational goals. This task can be accomplished through surveys, interviews, focus groups or even by using existing performance tracking measurements like performance appraisals. The purpose is to gather data to determine what training needs to be developed to help individuals and the organization accomplish goals and objectives. This is an assessment that looks at employee and organizational knowledge, skills, and abilities.

It Is a simple and straightforward task that:

  • Can help you move your organization’s human resources into a position where they contribute to the overall growth and change of the organization.
  • Can have some very positive effects on productivity, quality and morale.
  • Can gain buy in and create a positive learning environment through involvement.
  • Can help you approach training and development in a more structured and analytical manner.
  • Can give you better control over the time and money spent on training.
  • Can give your organization a better return on its investment.

Breaking it Down: The 3 Tiers

If you survey your entire constituency you may be overwhelmed by the variety of responses you receive from across the organization. Before you allocate monies and build your plan, start thinking in terms of 3 levels of needs to be delivered over a 1 to 2-year period. This kind of plan breaks it down into smaller more manageable chunks. Just as in planning a move to a new house, if you divide it into smaller areas like the 1st floor, 2nd floor and basement, it is easier to execute the relocation. By using a 3-tier approach to a needs assessment you not only simplify the process, you ensure no one group, department or region gets overlooked.

1. Macro Needs

These are global needs, consider topics like Harassment or Safety training. In most organizations, all employees would be required to attend these types of training. You want to plan and look for training needs that impact most of your population. Macro training in many cases will be your priority training, since it is highly visible and impacts a larger group. Don’t feel the need to get it all done right away; instead, spread this training across time and budget.

2. Intermediate Needs

These are needs that are localized to groups, departments or specific locations. In working with a manufacturing company based in Philadelphia with 5 plants across the country, they found there was a gap in skills among middle managers. Since it was a slice of the population, a specific group comprising only a 3rd of their total employees, they defined it as an intermediate need in their overall training plan.

3. Micro Needs

Micro needs are specialized needs for individuals or a specific position where there is a small number of employees. These needs can show up on Individual Development Plans. When it is a finite target impacting a small number of employees, it is considered a micro need.

Individuals responsible for training who are strategic in their approach, analyze the gaps, ask employees at all levels, and plan over time and budget will be better prepared to recruit and retain employees with a 3-tier defined plan. Those who react to a crisis or when a department head asks for last minute requests, will find themselves playing catch up, running over budget and operating under-resourced.

When planning for your organization’s 2018 training programs, consider these 3 levels of training needs.

About the Author

Marian Vallotton is MEA’s Director of Training & Development specializing in engaging managers and employees through in-person and online training for over a decade.