Implement a successful SMART Training Needs Analysis

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Developing a SMART Training Needs Analysis is essential for shaping clearly defined expectations for an employee.

It fosters clarification around communication between team members and senior management, and provides employees with a robust sense of purpose on what is expected within their role in supporting employers to achieve their strategic goals.


A Training Needs Analysis (TNA) framework draws upon a skills matrix and is used to support workforce planning, personnel reviews, and career & succession planning.  Any gaps are built into each employee’s plan with the results aggregated to information an employer’s training budget and workforce plan.

This blog summarises pivotal points of a TNA framework including guidance on applying some of the conversational techniques that mean the process with be positive and smooth.



The ‘SMART’ TNA Process

Workforce BluePrint suggests the following system to managers for introducing SMART conversations to employees – a process crucial to the effective delivery of TNA outcomes.

S = Setting the scene & self-assessment

S1; Set the scene on why the TNA is being implemented.

Setting the context on where the organisation is headed, and why an employer is implementing a TNA process. Conversation should be benefit-focused.

S2; Self-assessment by the employee.

Best practice development assessments start with the employee conducting a self-assessment as the basis for a two way conversation between them and their manager.

Employees are recommended to start by rating their strengths and then consider areas for development.

Managers are encouraged to focus on the true gaps where there is a clear development need, as this process will shape the team and organisation development budget.

M = Manager Chat

Once the employee has completed the self-assessment, the manager initiates validation of self-ratings via conversation. Often issues that arise in this stage occur due to an incongruence between manager and employee perception- from either an under or over-estimation of skill levels.

Conversation techniques

The following technique is used to shift employee’s perspectives and consider another point of view on their assessment.  These are applied in very specific circumstances.

Technique No 1; Can you help me out?

Share a problem you as a manager currently experiences, and then get the employee to rate on behalf of you experiencing that problem. Identify it as your problem, not theirs, soften the language by using ‘some people’, not ‘you’, and ask for suggestions and contribution to the conversation to solve the problem.

A = Agreement

Technique No 2; Starting the TNA process with a high level agreement.

High level agreement

Start your team or individual introduction with a high level statement that is a MUST agree to. This underpinning framework sets up the process for widespread agreement on the process.

There are more advanced conversational techniques that you can learn how to use in situations where there is disagreement, misalignment or conflict.

R = Record

Human Resources (or whomever is responsible for HR) may provide subsequent processes and guidance to council managers on recording the TNA program using templates and tools.

T = Training and Development

Team members and managers are able to think more creatively about development options, rather than selecting a default training course option.

You may also be interested in a framework for a TNA that suits your organisation, industry or region.  To explore what a successful TNA could look like for your initiative, please email, thank you.

March 2015

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