This week we were to post a blog entry that describes a plan for performing a needs assessment at a chosen organization, focusing on the importance of the analysis phase in designing a training program. I chose to take a look at the Men’s Wearhouse.
Men’s Wearhouse is a specialty retailer of men’s apparel with over 1,500 stores in North America. The product line offers a full selection of men’s suits, sport coats, furnishings and accessories in both exclusive and non-exclusive brands. The mission of Men’s Wearhouse is to “maximize sales, provide value to our customers, and deliver top-quality customer service while still having fun and maintaining our values”.
Men’s Wearhouse is committed to develop and maintain quality relationships with each stakeholder (i.e. customer, shareholders, vendors, and others); this has made Men’s Wearhouse a successful business and one of the best companies to work for. The Code of Business Conduct lists trust and respect as the cornerstone of the company’s business philosophy and strategy, forming the internal framework of the core values, mission, and integrity of the company (Men’s Wearhouse, 2014).
For the purpose of this assignment, it will be assumed strategic training and development initiatives, such as improving customer service, were developed that support the company’s business strategy. The first step is to determine that a training need exists (Noe, 2013). This can be done by conducting a needs assessment, and involves three steps: a) organizational analysis, b) person analysis, and c) task analysis (Noe, 2013). In addition, the needs assessment helps to identify learning outcomes and objectives, which in turn, will determine appropriate training methods (Noe, 2013). The needs assessment should answer the following:
- What stakeholders would you want to make sure to get buy-in from?
- What questions would you ask (and to whom would you address them) during the organizational, person, and task analysis phases?
- What documents or records might you ask to see?
- What techniques would you employ and why?
To successfully conduct a needs analysis, buy-in from upper management, mid-level management and employee/trainer is needed. This can involve any number of stakeholders. The key to success is making sure all primary stakeholders are involved in the assessment, not just at the start of the planning process, but throughout the entire process, beginning to end (Patton, 2008). Feeling part of the process increases individual buy-in (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton, & Kramer, 2008).
During the organizational, person, and task analysis phases several questions should be answered (as defined in Noe, 2013).
Organizational Analysis Phases:
Upper-Level Managers: Will training support the company mission and business strategy? Is training important to achieve business objectives?
Mid-Level Managers: Is the company retaining top talent? How will training and development help meet business goals? What resources are allocated to training? How much will be invested in training?
Trainers: Are you satisfied with the level of support from upper management to conduct training? Do you feel the training budget is adequate to conduct the needs assessment?
Person Analysis Phases:
Upper-Level Managers: What level of customer service do you feel employees provide? Would additional training improve the level?
Mid-Level Managers: Who will benefit the most from training?
Trainers: How would you rate your training methods? What method(s) are preferred by employees? How are training outcomes evaluated? How do you identify which employees need training?
Task Analysis Phases:
Upper-Level Managers: Do you feel customer service employees have the knowledge, abilities, and skill to perform required tasks? Are they competent to meet the level of service expected at Men’s Wearhouse?
Supervisors/Mid-Level Managers: For what jobs can training make the biggest difference in customer service and in product quality?
Trainers: What tasks should be included in the training in order for your employees to be able to do their job? What additional skills, knowledge or ability is needed to improve the level of customer service?
Conducting the needs assessment involves using various methods and tools, including “observation, interviews, and surveys or questionnaires” (Noe, 2013). Advantages to observation include the ability to generate data relevant to the work environment. For example, observing employees to identify tasks performed by customer service reps, and also to observe direct supervision (Noe, 2013). Questionnaires are great to collect data from a large sampling. Questionnaires are also inexpensive to conduct. Interviews are great to uncover details of training or other needs, as employees may feel more secure and safe in a private interview as long as they believe the interview is in confidentiality (Noe, 2013). In other words, providing an environment of trust, can procure unanticipated responses. Other methods to gather data include historical data, online technology, focus groups, and company records (Noe, 2013). Benchmarking like company’s training practices is also a good way to gather information about the competition (Noe, 2013).
Men’s Wearhouse. (2014). Corporate governance. Retrieved from http://www.menswearhouse.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ContentAttachmentView?contentName=MW4ABTcorporateGovernance.html&catalogId=12004&top=&parent_category_rn=&categoryId=&langId=-1&storeId=12751
Noe, R. A. (2013). Employee training and development (6th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.
Patton, M. (2008). Utilization-focused evaluation. (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. [Kindle Edition]. Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com.