Building a ‘learn it all’ culture through training needs analysis

Explore the value of implementing a culture of learning and how to drive success through an organizational training needs analysis.

Building a ‘learn it all’ culture through training needs analysis, featured image, Clarasys

Building a ‘learn it all’ culture through training needs analysis

Explore the value of implementing a culture of learning and how to drive success through an organizational training needs analysis.

Building a ‘learn it all’ culture through training needs analysis, featured image, Clarasys

Meet the author

Lila Neal


Well-trained workforces are at the core of all successful organizations. Innovative technology, a new vision, and a sparkling office are good investments, but if skills gaps exist, an organization will never reach its true potential. Put simply, skills gaps can lead to disillusioned staff, dissatisfied customers, and a bottom line in freefall.

The value of learning and development in a changing landscape

Offering learning avenues internally is also of great value to the individual employee and therefore, the company. Today, access to learning and development is a huge draw for employees; it shows workers their employer is willing to invest in them and wants to help them grow to become future leaders. Learning and development offers can also reduce staff churn and help to eradicate “silent quitting” where staff become demotivated and stop going above and beyond in their roles.

But how can an organization transform its approach to learning and ensure it includes all staff on the learning journey?

Executing a comprehensive organizational training needs analysis

Assessing skills gaps and training needs is key to defining a clear vision of where an organization is aiming to go. The main questions to answer are: 

  • What skills do we need today to “keep the lights on”? What skills do we need tomorrow to future-proof the organization?
  • What opportunities exist within our current learning landscape, tools, methodologies, and learning and development offerings?
  • What’s our team perception around learning and what’s the appetite for knowledge within the teams?

The timing of when to conduct a training needs analysis

is also critical. Bear in mind how much change the organization has been through before attempting a training program. If there have been lots of emotional, process, and logistical changes, it could be beneficial to pace yourselves instead of jumping in feet first. Be sure to consider where the program sits in the transformation from a vision perspective.

Once training needs have been assessed and the training plan has been designed, it is important to consider how the organizational culture can support the training plan. It is also important to identify other support resources that may be needed for a successful implementation.

Key success factors for implementing a culture of learning

1. Executive sponsorship

One of the keys to success is executive sponsorship. We wanted to support a “learn it all” culture in a world of technical experts, and we knew that senior leaders needed not only to buy into the training plan but also to model the new behavior themselves. Encouraging leaders to have conversations about learning priorities at town halls, and publicly block off time on their calendars for training, is an effective way to model the importance of ongoing education at every level. 

2. Resource allocation: Investing in effective learning

It might sound obvious, but dedicating resources to learning is key to ensuring that a learning culture is adopted in your organization. One of the primary barriers to learning highlighted in our focus groups was a need for more dedicated time. People would sign up for training, only to be constantly pulled back to their normal duties in the middle of the session. This is frustrating for learners who want to upskill themselves and is also a waste of resources. Organizations need to make a financial commitment to supporting learning by helping learners to block off time in their calendars to fully engage with training.

3. Synergy with HR: A collaborative approach

When it comes to implementing a training program, human resources will be your best friend. Partnering with HR will help to align your training program with the larger organization, facilitating the adoption and execution of the changes you will make. HR teams are the “badge holders” of job descriptions and career paths and are also key to creating and implementing critical training benchmarks like competency frameworks and key performance indicators. Additionally, you can link training goals to performance reviews to ensure that learners are motivated to progress along their learning paths and further embed the learning culture throughout your organization. These elements are all critical to a comprehensive training program, making collaboration with HR a key to success.

4. Soft skills: Cornerstones of comprehensive learning

Even if your team works in a technical capacity, don’t forget about soft skills. Ensuring that your team has high-performing soft skills like empathy, self-awareness, and verbal and written communication is critical. These skills are often referred to as customer service skills, but that phrasing can be misleading. These skills aren’t just relevant in the traditional sense of serving an end user but also impact how team members treat each other. Having strong soft skills will increase inter- and cross-team relationships, improving collaboration and ultimately making teams more effective.

5. Leveraging internal expertise

If you’re looking to further upskill your team in existing capabilities, chances are that you already have some subject matter experts on your team. When conducting a training needs analysis, ask the respondent what skills they consider themselves an expert in. The answers might surprise you and could set you up for some internal training opportunities. Events like “lunch and learns” are easy and affordable ways for your experts to train the team, and offer more structure than asking a coworker to help solve a problem during the workday. Additionally, this collaboration across teams, and the addition of some informal learning structures, help to make learning part of an organization’s cultural and behavioral norms, rather than an isolated task.

6. Stay agile

If you work in tech, you know how rapidly the field can change. The next new thing is always on the horizon, and the future is now. Set your teams up for success by anticipating the change. Future-proof your teams by looking ahead to anticipate what skills may be expected of them soon, and prepare to pivot your learning approach to accommodate changes in the landscape. Additionally, measure your overall learning progress by establishing key performance indicators. That’ll help make sure you stay on track and continue to tailor learning programs/offerings as needed to better enhance the learner experience and foster learning outcomes that will more closely align with your organization’s mission and vision.

Sustaining growth: Long-term vision for learning initiatives

Organizations should remember that conducting a training needs analysis and implementing a training program will not happen overnight. Doing this work will require resources, dedicated time, and passionate individuals who are willing to advocate for it. Depending on the needs of your organization, implementing a training plan may necessitate a lot of change for employees. Be sure to consistently tie these changes back to the larger vision, and provide context for how all levels of the organization will benefit from this work. A successful training needs analysis and training plan can set your organization (and employees) up for long-term success. 

Begin your organization’s journey towards excellence with the power of an organizational training needs analysis. By strategically evaluating skills gaps, fostering a culture of learning, and engaging with these essential factors, you can nurture a “learn it all” culture that propels your teams and organization to new heights. And if you need help to get there, we may be able to support you. Get in touch to start your journey toward successful organizational change today!  

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