Tried and True Performance Analysis

By Sleezer, Catherine M. | Training & Development, November 1993 | Go to article overview

Tried and True Performance Analysis


Sleezer, Catherine M., Training & Development


A RESEARCH STUDY DESIGNED A NEW MODEL FOR ANALYZING A COMPANY'S TRAINING NEEDS--AND THEN TESTED THAT MODEL IN AN ACTUAL ORGANIZATION. THE RESULT IS AN EFFECTIVE THREE-PHASE PROCESS FOR DETERMINING AND ADDRESSING PERFORMANCE NEEDS.

In their new roles as strategic leaders, HR practitioners must be able to conduct needs analyses that accurately assess their organizations' performance needs, so that training can be made relevant to employees' jobs and organizational business goals. One way to meet that challenge is to use the Performance Analysis for Training model.

The PAT model fits the realities of the dynamic organizations in which practitioners work; it helps them move from the theory to the practice of organizational performance needs.

The PAT model was developed in a research study designed to address the gap between the way needs-analysis process is described in the literature and the way it is actually practiced. Validating the model involved implementing it in a functioning organization, documenting the results, and determining whether the needs assessment produced the predicted results. That real-world application of PAT highlights the model's dynamic, adaptable nature.

Using the PAT model to determine an organization's performance needs isn't a matter of searching for a single right answer. It is a matter of negotiating among an organization's decision makers and the person who conducts the needs analysis, the analyst. Those people influence the entire performance-analysis process: identifying performance and training needs, determining training solutions, and creating the training.

A company's major decision makers can affect a needs analysis by their expectations, the amount of support for training they offer, and the degree of consensus among them. For example, decision makers who disagree on their level of support for training could influence the determination of needs by failing to provide enough resources for the needs-assessment process. The analyst's abilities and personal biases also come into play; for example, those biases could influence whether certain information in the analysis is considered important or is ignored.

An organization's culture, politics, language, and environment also can affect a needs analysis. For example, the process by which training needs are determined would be influenced by the fact that an organization is an international manufacturer rather than, say, a local hospital. Even companies in the same field have different characteristics that would affect the process and product of a training-needs analysis.

Looking at the model

The performance-analysis process involves the following three phases:

* organizational analysis

* work-behavior analysis

* individual-capabilities analysis.

In each phase, the analyst and decision makers are involved in discussion and negotiation in order to gain consensus on the final training needs. The analyst uses a set of worksheets to guide the process. The worksheets incorporate both the conceptual framework of the model and the different steps involved in each phase. In other words, the PAT worksheets are a guide to implementing the needs assessment. They help analysts and decision makers organize the information that is gathered throughout the process, and they highlight key points.

The following overview of the three phases of the PAT model shows how individual contributions relate to the total needs-assessment effort; it also demonstrates a clear link between the assessment and the organization's performance.

Organization analysis. This phase helps determine training emphasis. It involves the following steps:

* identifying and gathering information about opportunities for training in the organization

* determining the purpose and parameters of the needs analysis

* gathering relevant anecdotal information

* analyzing information

* reporting findings to decision makers

* determining training opportunities and needs by decision makers. …

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