Mission Impossible

By Derek Stockley.

Identifying training needs is an important activity that relates to the overall performance of the business.

For further information about identifying training needs, see: Training Needs Analysis Concepts/Approach - a description and explanation of TNA.

"Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to coordinate training for our organisation" said the CEO to Dale Wood, the newly appointed Human Resources Manager.

Not that there was really any choice. At the weekend, the CEO had seen an old video. It had prompted memories of a popular television series a few years back.

The CEO had every confidence that Dale could organise the training.

Dale's thoughts focussed on the mission. Was it mission impossible? Certainly it was a lot to ask. The identification of all the training needs of the organisation, making decisions about priorities, assessing the resources required, the planning of a program, and implementation in a logical way, with equity and access - all had to be achieved.

"By the way, I want it ready to go when we meet next week" continued the CEO. "Any questions....... No. Good, now I want to talk about ......"

A little while later, Dale was reflecting on the CEO's request, before heading off to a management meeting about the corporate plan, the budget, quality processes and a few other current developments.

Dale thought about the immensity of the task and fitting it in with all the other developments. Like managers, Dale had a lot to sort out.

After the meeting, Dale had just sat down when a colleague entered the office. "What's up?" enquired Ashley. Dale briefly explained the immensity of the task of organising training when so much else was happening. "So?" prompted Ashley, playing a devil's advocate role.

"So, I'm not sure that we have enough time and energy to organise training properly" replied Dale.

"Let me ask a few questions" continued Ashley. "What is the organisation trying to achieve?"

Dale replied. "You know the answers - better service, reduced costs, increased productivity, increased accountability." "Yes that's all true" continued Ashley, "but give me one word that describes what restructure, enterprise agreements, etc are trying to achieve."

Dale thought about it for a moment and then said "Performance. All the programs, initiatives etc have improved performance as the underlying theme."

"Yes, that's right" replied Ashley. "What underlies performance?"

"The way staff perform, the methods and processes used, the culture of the organisation" Dale explained. "And training is the key. The really successful organisations have worked out their processes and train their staff to do the work properly. I discovered recently that often its the commitment to getting the basics right all the time that is the key to success."

"Yes, I agree" continued Ashley.

"This is all very nice" said Dale, "We know training is important, but how am I going to organise it to take into account all the other things that are happening."

Ashley said "The first thing is the need to achieve a balance between effort and result. Every situation is different, and you need to adjust approaches to suit the circumstances to achieve the maximum result. This diagram should help."


Dale said "So, what ever we do, we need to design the approach to meet our needs."

"The second thing to realise is the myriad of activities/ requirements that bring about training needs. Organisations are often involved in a variety of actions that generate the need for training. Some are imposed from external forces, some result from internal developments and some come from training initiatives, for example, conducting a skills audit or a training needs analysis."

Dale reflected on this. "There are so many competing requirements, but really they are just different triggers for the same underlying needs. We will have to ensure we identify them all."

"The third thing is to realise that organising training is like any normal planning process. Similar principles apply to training."

Dale reflected on the mission. May be it was 'mission possible' after all. Dale was ready for that meeting with the CEO to outline a planned approach that would meet requirements in the best possible way.

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For further information about Training Needs Analysis, see: TNA Concepts/Approach - a description and explanation of TNA.


Training needs analysis is a specific skill of Derek Stockley, a Melbourne, Victoria based consultant, see: Human Resources Development (HRD) Consulting Services.

Derek conducts in-house training in training needs analysis. If this is not appropriate, he also provides an "on demand" or just-in-time (JIT) training service. It provides relevant and targeted training when a public short course is not available and in-house training is not appropriate. See: On-demand Training - Meeting Specific Training Needs.

If you are interested in having Derek assist with a training needs analysis, or organising a TNA training program Email Derek Stockley or telephone or write to Derek Stockley at Contact Details.

Further information is available at: Training Needs Analysis. Derek Stockley can organise an in-house, comprehensive TNA/trainer project, see In-house Training Needs Analysis Project.

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