The course project is designed to provide you with real life practical experience in conducting a training/OD needs assessment for a selected organization and in developing a training or intervention strategy to address the needs that have been identified.
The course project must be comprehensive, and follows the following analytical stages:
Select an organization to be studied
Develop and conduct a needs assessment
Analyze the data collected and identify training needs
Develop a training/intervention strategy to address the needs
Determine the training/intervention cost and quantify expected results
Develop an evaluation method
Once the steps have been completed, a detailed paper outlining your processes, methodologies, results, and recommendations should be prepared. Although the length of the paper is not pre-determined, a paper of 10-15 pages in length, double-spaced, is customarily necessary to cover the topic adequately. This does not include title and reference page.
Note: There is an excellent guide online called “Human Capital: A Guide for assessing Strategic Training and Development Efforts in the Federal Government” put out by the United States General Accounting Office. While this relates to the government and not the private sector, it contains excellent information that can be applied anywhere.
Project Phases – In Detail
Part 1: Select an organization to be studied
There are a number of ways in which organizations can be selected. One option is to look outside your organization for companies that would be interested in participating in the project. Another is to volunteer your own organization, or if you are not currently employed, you may use a church, school, club or other organization.
Once your organization has been selected, you will need to learn a lot about it. It is essential for you to understand the organization’s business, goals, objectives, and mission in order to complete this project successfully. (Submit the information on your selected organization to your Dropbox by the end of Week 1 – this is an ungraded step but required and essential to help you make sure you are on the right track.) Also note that you will be submitting a progress report for this project in Week 5 in the mini-paper assignment – this is worth 100 points.
See Syllabus “Due Dates for Assignments & Exams” for due dates.
Part 2: Conduct a Needs Assessment
Training and developmental processes begin with a needs assessment. Given the economic pressures that businesses face today, it is imperative that those needs be connected to specific organizational performance issues.
There are three different forms of analysis you will need to complete:
Organizational Analysis involves determining the appropriateness of training, given the organization’s business strategy, its resources available for training, and support by managers and peers for training activities.
Person Analysis involves (1) determining whether performance deficiencies result from a lack of knowledge, skill, or ability (a training issue) or from a motivational or work-design problem; (2) identifying who needs training; and (3) determining employees’ readiness for training.
Task Analysis identifies the important tasks and knowledge, skill, and behaviors that need to be emphasized in training for employees to complete their tasks.
Hints for a successful Needs Assessment:
As you conduct your needs assessment, you may want to consider four potential sources of information that may help you in your analysis. Information such as employee turnover analysis, incident reports, long range production goals, employee satisfaction studies, and physical plant layout can tell us a lot. Examples of other documents you may wish to consider include:
Business Documents: Key business documents can be used to determine areas of poor performance and developmental needs. Such documents may include:
Unit productivity reports
Customer satisfaction surveys
Communication survey reports
Competitive analysis reports
Organization Survey: Questionnaires can be created that probe for areas in which systems, structures, or processes are not functioning as intended. They can be used to look toward group, departmental, or individual issues. (Submit your Survey to be used for gathering data by the end of Week 3 – 70 points.)
See Syllabus “Due Dates for Assignments & Exams” for due dates.
Potential questions include:
I am involved in decisions that directly affect my job.
My supervisor communicates with me on a regular basis.
I clearly understand what is expected of me.
I am rewarded for good performance.
My opinion has been asked regarding what needs to change in my work area.
I understand why the decisions that affect my job are made.
My supervisor gives me information that is important to me.
I have the skills necessary to perform my job properly.
I am rewarded for working well with others.
I receive frequent feedback on my performance.
I believe the information that I receive from my supervisor.
I have the tools necessary to perform my job properly.
My job leaves me with a sense of accomplishment.
I understand the information that I receive from my organization.
I am encouraged to make decisions that affect my job.
I am encouraged to communicate with my supervisor.
Team goals are supported throughout my organization.
My organization treats all employees well.
I have the information necessary to make decisions that affect my job.
I am encouraged to communicate with others.
The feedback that I receive is directly related to my job performance.
My organization treats all employees fairly.
My supervisor allows me to communicate my thoughts without fear of reprisal.
The feedback that I receive is constructive in nature.
My organization is interested in the growth and development of its employees.
I believe the information that I receive from my organization.
Observations: Individuals can be observed on the job, and their interactions and activities can be noted for further analysis. Observations can include:
How individuals communicate (time spent, amount of detail, responsiveness)
How individuals make decisions (time spent, involvement sought, etc.)
How work is performed (under pressure, in groups, etc.)
Interviews: Interviews can be conducted in person or via a distributed questionnaire that probes for areas where performance may be improved. Potential interview questions include:
What do you think the most important part of your job is? What is least important?
What would you like to learn to make your job easier or better? What are the programs, processes, or resources available for you to learn from?
How have you developed the skills that you have?
Who brings problems to you and what kind of problems are they? How do you usually solve them? Who do you ask for help?
What do you find most frustrating about your job?
What would you like to be spending your time doing? What would need to happen to let you do that?
It is up to you to determine the methodology to be used in conducting the assessment. Considerations should include the willingness of the organization and its employees to provide information, the availability of information from the organization to be studied, and the availability of individuals in the organization to be interviewed/observed.
The nature of the needs analysis, of course, also should be based on the type of assessment desired. Given the broad coverage of the course, assessment may include, but would not be limited to:
Group processes and group effectiveness
Decision making process effectiveness
Individual skills development
Group skills development
Part 3. Analyze the data collected and identify training needs
Analyze the data you have collected and identify one or more training needs for the organization. Be sure to fully justify your recommendations and link your recommendations to the organization’s business goals.
The data collected must be viewed in terms of the initial intent of the project. Care must be taken to evaluate the data for what it portrays. Insufficient analysis or understanding of data, as well as reading more into data than what it actually portrays, are equally ineffective activities.
Part 4. Develop a training/intervention strategy to address the needs
Creating a developmental strategy is the objective of the investigative segment of the project. The strategy may include:
1. Training Sessions:
a. Traditional classroom
c. Self-managed strategies
d. Opportunity to perform
2. Career management systems:
a. Self-assessment programs
b. Mentoring systems
c. Action planning
3. Organizational development intervention activities:
a. Team building
b. Inter-group activities
c. Survey feedback activities
d. Education and training activities
e. Structural activities
f. Process consultation
g. Blake-Mouton grid activities
h. Third party peacemaking
i. Coaching and counseling
j. Career planning
k. Goal setting
4. System Redesign:
a. Search conferences
b. Confrontation meetings
c. Strategic planning meetings
Part 5. Determine the training/intervention cost and quantify expected results
The fifth section of the course project is to conduct a cost-benefit analysis. Training costs must be evaluated against anticipated results. This will only be palatable if, in the initial assessment, specific behaviors/processes and their impact on the performance of the organization were determined. If so, conducting this final analytical segment should be possible.
Part 6: Develop a Method of Training Evaluation
Once you have completed the training, how will you know whether it has been successful? There are a variety of ways to evaluate training and development programs. Clearly identify the specific outcomes you expect from the project. Then develop a method of evaluating the effectiveness of your project.
All course papers MUST include a cover page, Table of Contents, Executive Summary, and Reference section in order to be considered complete. Points will be deducted for the exclusion of any of these components. Other required components and their point values are as follows:
BACKGROUND (50 Points)
Acquaint the reader with the organization selected, why it was selected, and the specific division/department of interest. Fully discuss the corporate agenda, its business strategy, its environment, and its objectives. A professional overview of the organizational culture and values should be included in the analysis.
NEEDS ASSESSMENT DESIGN, IMPLEMENTATION, AND ANALYSIS (75 Points)
Design a needs assessment which analyzes organizational objectives and goals and then examines the factors which affect reaching those goals. Your analysis should look at the Organization, Person, and Task levels. Be sure you fully describe your methodologies, process, and results.
RECOMMENDED TRAINING STRATEGY AND DESIGN (75 Points)
Outline your plan for developing a training model to meet the results of the needs assessment. It is important to recognize that training is not always the most cost-effective solution to an organizational problem. Credit will be given for other creative and cost-effective developmental modalities other than training. Professional justification is expected for the choices. Clearly outline the desired learning outcomes and include your specific recommended training methods. Fully address any learning environment/transfer of training issues.
COST/BENEFIT ANALYSIS (ROI) (50 Points)
Outline the cost of recommended training, the potential return on investment (ROI), and the expected results. A plan should be provided on how to justify the costs.
TRAINING EVALUATION PLAN (50 Points)
Detail your methods for evaluating the effectiveness of the training after it has been completed. How will the organization know whether the training has been successful?
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