A Guide for Supervisors and/or Managers.

As a supervisor or manager you are responsible for the effective functioning of your work area and this includes the effectiveness of your staff. You may have a change in overall function of your area or a new staff member may have joined the team. In either case it may be obvious that your staff may not have all the skills or knowledge required to perform their tasks at an optimal level. This process will help you identify these missing skills, knowledge or abilities as well as determine ways to acquire them. It is best completed in partnership with your staff member.

Step 1. Analyse the Job

Discuss with the staff member the existing resources that describe the job such as the current position description, the Position Classification Descriptors, the outcome of the most recent Performance Review & Development discussion, position description templates and also position descriptions of recently advertised positions.  All these resources will provide information about key responsibilities of the position and indicators of the skills, knowledge and abilities required to competently perform the job.  Identify phrases which specify key skills, processes or areas of knowledge. Also consider whether the job has changed from when the position description was made as this may result in new key responsibilities / outcomes being considered.

Examples:

  1. Develop budgets to ensure there are adequate resources available for the section
  2. Use the internal telephone system to ensure that calls and messages are efficiently and effectively handled
  3. Provide leadership to the team by setting priorities and communicating information to allow effective work participation
  4. Follow the organizations occupation health and safety guidelines to minimise risk and maximise safety
  5. Provide feedback to unsuccessful applicants

Step 2. Analyse the person’s current skills and knowledge

Together with the staff member, identify the skills and knowledge the person currently has. This information can be sourced in three main ways:

  1. From your own observations – what have you noticed them doing well.  What key responsibilities are they currently expected to perform that may need improvement.
  2. From information obtained from the individual such as formal qualifications, training courses completed and tasks performed in previous positions.
  3. From data available from the Human Resource information system.

Examples:

  1. Can report on budget activity including surpluses and shortfalls but cannot prepare annual budgets at the start of the financial year.
  2. Manages the phone system well except when transferring caller to an answering service/mobile phone connection.
  3. Can set priorities but information is not passed down in a timely manner with some staff constantly omitted.
  4. Has not had any manual handling training.
  5. Is not consistent with the information provided when giving feedback to unsuccessful applicants.
  6. Has poor communication skills when responding to patrons.

Step 3. Decide on the skills/knowledge gaps

By the time Step 2 is completed a 'list' of areas where some training would be required to improve the effectiveness of your staff member may already have started to formulate. You need to decide whether there is a gap in the staff member’s skills or knowledge or whether some revision is required to 'bring them up to scratch'.
It is also recommended that you ask the staff member which areas they consider need addressing.  This way you identify tasks that you may have missed or refine tasks so that the training can be more effective.
If there are several items that need addressing, they need to be prioritised so that a working plan can begin to be formulated.

Step 4. Identify training solutions

This involves finding out the best way of closing the skills/knowledge gaps that you identified in the previous step. There may be many different options available such as:

  1. One on one training or coaching in the workplace.
  2. Secondment – to another department/section in the university or outside the university.
  3. Self directed learning – eg. Using written instructional material or written guidelines or instructions.
  4. Short-term training courses – internal – look at the Professional Development Unit’s website to identify available training courses.
  5. Short-term training courses – external – the professional Development Unit can also help you identify suitable training providers for your needs.
  6. Long term courses eg. Certificate, Diploma, Degree or Higher Degree courses.
  7. Short term projects.
  8. Mentoring.

Step 5. Evaluate performance after training.

Once the training has been completed it is important to consider whether or not the key responsibilities can now be completed competently.  This can be achieved by:

  1. Asking the staff member to evaluate his or her own effectiveness in the task.
  2. Ask yourself whether the performance gaps that were the reason for the training are still there.
    Examples:
    1. The staff member can now prepare annual budgets that accurately reflect the operations of the section.
    2. The staff member can now transfer calls to answering services and mobile phones without cutting the caller off.
    3. The staff member has a system in place, which ensures that all receive the same information at the same time.
    4. The staff member can now lift heavy material in line with occupation health and safety guidelines.
    5. The staff member can now provide feedback using a feedback criteria list so that all unsuccessful applicants are treated equally.
  3. Look at the work area to determine whether there is still evidence of a deficiency in skills or knowledge.
If the performance gap is still there then you need to look more closely at the reasons for it and determine whether the training solution selected was correct for the identified problem or whether there is another performance issue that needs addressing.  The Professional Development Unit may be able to help you further with this process.

Further information on Training Needs Analysis:

Many Human Resource Development texts will have a section on Training Needs Analysis.  You should be able to find further information in most reference libraries or you may be able to get further information from the Professional Development Unit.