Most managers are aware of how essential it is to build a successful team, but not so many of them really understand individual needs and personal aspirations. Understanding members might be the only way to ensure that they have the necessary skills and knowledge to perform well at work and achieve their targets. In this article, we will discuss about: how to understand members who needs what skill, how to avoid wasting time and money in unnecessary training and what an effective process of identifying developmental needs of individuals looks like.
Why are developmental needs for individuals so important?
Obviously, training a team is a universal need. However, each member in a team is a unique individual who has achieved different skills and different levels of knowledge, held different responsibilities and different objectives. Therefore, it’s not recommended to apply a one-size-fits-all training for the whole team. Instead, you should spend time figuring out which types of training match which members so that you can bring the right training to the right person.
The following process from the American Society for Training and Development's Strategic Needs Analysis includes 6 steps.
Step 1: Review the job description of each member
Managers should start by thinking about what that member is mainly responsible for and what they are supposed to do when being hired based on job description. Then, identify the skills required to perform their task well.
Tip: Make sure job descriptions are regularly reviewed and updated and able to reflect honestly what that individual actually does before you use it.
Step 2: Arrange personal meeting with individuals.
These arrangements aim for an open talk about what types of training and development one thinks will work more effectively with them.
Sometimes, the person doesn’t feel they need any training. This is when managers use their emotional intelligence to apply questioning techniques and active listening with sympathy and respect. The manager may ask the following questions: which challenges do you have to face every day? Which part of your role do you find the most irritating? Do you know why? Are there any areas of the organisation you wish to know more about?
Next, ask them if they want an individual-designed training or the general traditional training. If the answer is individual-designed trainings, how do they imagine the expected results? Lastly, don’t forget their personal goals and consider how much these goals are aligned with the organisation’s goals. This conversation will help you understand members better.
Tip: Mind the body language. Their attitudes and postures show what they really think about the issues.
Step 3: Observe team members while they are doing their tasks
Next step, carefully observe how team members do their main tasks. Do they finish quickly or do they procrastinate? If they don’t perform well, is it because they are not confident with their ability or are they insufficiently trained in the major areas of the tasks?
Tip: The manager (or team leader) needs to observe in a very subtle way. If members know you are observing, they might behave and act different from normal. If your silent rating is discovered, you might risk ruining trust. The best way is giving their task with time bound and specific deadlines so that they have the chance to express their ability.
Step 4: Collect additional information
Apart from your own observation, you can understand members better from those who work closely with them. These people can be clients, previous superiors or colleagues.
Once again, make sure the collected data is as fair as possible. You need to mind the context and the culture to understand members. Lastly, you should avoid general comments by asking the commenters to give a specific example for their comments.
Step 5: Analyse and prepare data
After collecting enough necessary data, what trends do you see? Any skills gaps that need to be filled?
Step 6: Decide the next action
Now that you have ideas about the skills that each member needs, you will decide the type and content of training to be provided.
During training, you should take some measure to encourage your employees. Creating favourable conditions for them to join the training, noting and discussing with their instructor and with them about what has been learned, you will be able to adjust misjudgements timely.
Following the above 6-step process to identify developmental needs of members, you will avoid wasting time and resources. Moreover, your employees will feel motivated when linking learned skill and knowledge to their jobs, as well as personal goals. Understanding members is the real force that can retain talent and build sustainable success.