Advice on Training Needs Analysis (Part 6 of 6)

14 Dec

Aims of a reflective interview

We have called our TNA interview a reflective interview to emphasise the necessity to reflect deeply and thoroughly on the interviewees’ current and previous work and training experience.

It follows very much the guidance of Donald Schon who has compellingly argued that those who learn reflectively from experience share 2 key characteristics.

  1. A willingness and ability to REFECT IN ACTION. That is to be their own researcher. To think through what they are currently doing, whey they are doing in the current manner and what the consequences are.
  2. Secondly a willingness and ability to REFLECT ON ACTION. This is a willingness to look back on some complete experience (say previous training) and logically work through their involvement in it, their strengths and weaknesses and contribution towards the outcome.

The interviewer’s role is to enable the interviewee to reflect in the manner of Schon. In other words to enable the interviewee to become his/her own personal researcher, thereby eventually opening up his/her needs to effective scrutiny.

Experience indicates that this reflective type of interview will take from one to one and a half hours.

Stage 5 – Putting it all together

Once all the interviews are complete you will have amassed a great deal of information. In analysing the collected data and in reading over notes, look for patterns, common responses, themes which sit comfortably together. Be particularly careful, analysing responses fairly and objectively.

Talk over your findings with an experienced colleague. You will find that – in analysing your interview notes – you’ll need to deploy content analysis skills similar to those required for the analysis of questionnaires, using open-ended questioning.

You should then present our findings to chosen personnel in the organisation. Base all your conclusions on evidence gathered. And training recommendations must reflect conclusions directly. When this is accomplished, you will have produced a logical and, therefore, defendable report.


There are two types of report to be made. One is a written report and the other an oral report. Following good practice you would submit the written report first, to be followed a week or so later with an oral report to senior management so that they will be able to question us on the basis of our written version.

Written reports will start with terse summaries of general organisational information leading on to detailed conclusions and ending with very precise and detailed training recommendations. In TNA reports, it is the recommendations section which is often the longest. This is because it is our detailed expertise in suggesting appropriate training which provides value to management.


The guidelines within this article are founded upon the Scottish Quality Management Centre‘s current (2011) platform for effective Training Needs Analysis.  Although there is no one right way to conduct a Training Needs Analysis, there is a good practice. Good practice demands a logical framework to any study. It then demands that the methods used be thoroughly and systematically applied by skilled practitioners, followed by a thorough and systematic analysis of the findings. Then and only then can conclusions be drawn and recommendations made in written and oral reporting format. This is the key.

Thoroughness, systematic application and objective analysis – nothing less will do. When well done, the result is a study which will benefit the organisation, the team/department and the individual.



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