Category Archives: Knowledge sharing

This category of posts contain information collated from various sources by Exult! Solutions and posted here for the benefit of readers.

A Concept Note on Training Need Analysis

Methods of TNA

Training Need Analysis (TNA) is the systematic process of determining and ordering training goals, measuring training needs and deciding on priorities for training action. We identify a gap as a training need when there is a difference between the actual and required human performance in some specific areas of operations and where improved training is the most economical way of eliminating the difference.

Not every performance gap qualifies as a training need. The gaps could be due to:

  • Business environment: Where the changes in the business, such as recession or retrenchment lead to lower performance
  • Motivational needs: Which is caused due to lack of morale in employees or inaccurate recruitment
  • Work environment issues: When the work environment does not facilitate performance owing to factors such as inadequate resources, poor leadership, adverse policies, etc.

Benefits of TNA

Here are the benefits of doing a systematic TNA:

  • It demonstrates the organizational focus on p
  • It clearly identifies the routes to close organizational performance g
  • Through involvement, it builds internal commitment to achieve organizational targets.
  • It throws light on non-training issues, thus falsifying the assumption that training can fix all performance gaps, and in the process saving costs for the organization.

Common methods of TNA

Competency based assessments

These involve identifying competencies relevant to the roles in question through multiple methods including reference to the key result areas, interview with the incumbents, job diaries, focus groups, etc. After identifying the key competencies that enable the person to do well in a role, there are the following steps:

  • Create the competency dictionary that describes every competency and the observable levels of performance therein
  • Develop an assessment process to check for presence of the identified competencies (through assessment centre, online assessments, hybrid assessments, etc.)
  • Run the competency assessment process
  • Map the results to the competency dictionary and identify the gaps between demonstrated performance and desired performance
  • Outline the training needs based on the gaps derived through the assessment process

Advantage of this process is that it is a scientific method to approach TNA and gives credible performance-oriented results. The online or hybrid model of assessments also makes it feasible in terms of time.

360-degree feedback

These is a powerful way of deriving training needs based on a system of comprehensive feedback. Every person whose training needs have to be derived is identified and a feedback mechanism is designed to capture responses about functional and behavioural performance. A comprehensive 360 degree feedback would include responses from a person’s superior, peer, subordinate, customer (internal/external) and any other person directly affected by the incumbent’s performance at work.

These responses are compiled and viewed in the context of the person’s role and career path in the organisation, after which training gaps are identified. An interview with the person is also a part of the process to understand if there is a gap between the self-image and the perceptions of the person by others. This gap can be corrected through coaching and dialogue.

This approach is advantageous because it gives a balanced view and a fair analysis of every person and can lead to correction of conflicts, if any, within teams. If this is being implemented for a large group, it can be relatively time-consuming. People will also need to be educated on the scope of feedback using the 360-degree approach.

Performance management system

A popular way of deriving TNA is through the performance management system. During appraisals, the performance gaps can be identified through discussions between the supervisors and subordinates. It is possible to integrate a questionnaire focussed on training needs in the appraisal process, which gives a structure to the discussion and ensures that both subjective and objective inputs are captured.

This method is widely used since it is logistically feasible and does not consume too much time. However, depending upon the relationship between the supervisors and subordinates, the data captured may sometimes be too subjective. Also, the training needs gathered through this process may not necessarily align with the growth needs of the organisation since it may include personal aspirations of the people involved.

TNA questionnaires

This method is useful if the organisation is clear about the general areas of training needs. For example, if everyone in the organisation needs to undergo training on core competencies, this method is useful to identify the levels of needs. TNA questionnaires can be designed to capture data about what employees think are their learning needs, how these trainings or other interventions can improve their performance on the job and benefit the organisation.

TNA questionnaires work well if the questions are focussed on a particular area or competency. If the questionnaire is too broad-based and allows respondents to think of learning needs in any area, then the responses are likely to be extremely varied and hence not very helpful to derive specific needs.

SWOT Analysis

This method is an alternative when an organisation does have a competency framework in place. The L&D department or a consultant can facilitate a SWOT analysis of a team/department/unit that has performance issues and help to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats related to that area. The leaders can then focus on areas of weaknesses and threats and develop learning interventions to mitigate them.

Johari Window

This tool can be used for TNA when a small group of people (team/department) have a performance issue. The facilitator can ask the group to look at the team/department as a person and then use the Johari Window as a tool to identify the areas of strengths and improvements. The blind spots in the Window can also point towards human capital readiness in the organisation.

(Rukmini Iyer is the Director of Exult! Solutions. She has worked extensively around Asia in the areas of organization transformation and training. She actively practices Non-Violent Communication, NLP and Appreciative Inquiry and is a trained expert in conflict resolution. Know more about Exult! Solutions at

Cultivating Innovation

Innovation is one of the most commonly encouraged competencies in corporations these days. It is challenging to develop because it entails absolute participation and willingness of the learner, who has to or wants to develop the competency. It cannot be enforced through a policy or a process.

One of the most common comments I come across while coaching/training on innovation is “I am not creative, so innovation is difficult for me.” While I believe each one of us is creative and only need to open up to it, that is a discussion for another day.

Creativity versus Innovation

For the moment, let me clarify what I mean by the two terms. Creativity operates in a boundary-free context while innovation has a defined context. To expand, creativity is like painting on a blank canvas; there are no rules or regulations about how the canvas needs to get painted. Creativity is the way children are, in their natural state. A child can be in a playroom and play doctor, believing all the while that he is in a hospital. There is no pressure to create anything specific, no deliverables and usually, no economic impact.

In the corporate context, innovation has a defined context. The context could be about the existing products/services, competition, upcoming launches, etc. So when a company expects employees to be innovative, they expect ideas that have not been used so far. Thus, innovation begins with a capacity for ideation.

Of course, a lot of corporate innovations have happened by accident (such as the creation of post-it notes, Ivory soap, etc.). And sometimes, creativity plays a role too. That does not mean all of us cannot be innovative.

The Problem Solving Process

Regardless of who we are, all of us engage in problem solving. A child needs to solve mathematical problems at school. A homemaker needs to maintain a clean, efficient house. A professional needs to cater to customers’ issues. A businessperson needs to manage cash-flow. A beggar needs to feed his hungry stomach. Typically, the process we follow is this:

Problem solving process

While this is an efficient process, the results thus generated are often guided by habit and judgments. In the process of generating solutions using the limited knowledge we have, we usually fall prey to repetitive patterns of thoughts and opinions, not allowing for presence and originality.

Turning on the Innovation Switch

Innovation requires inquiry into ideas, not advocacy of positions. In other words, we need to drop existing or pre-conceived notions and a fixation for immediate solutions, if we aspire for innovation. It does not mean innovation takes a huge amount of time, but it can be a quick only if we change our habitual pattern of thoughts.

Compared to problem solving, the innovation process has one key additional step. It can be illustrated thus:

Insights process

The key to innovation is insight – reasons that help us understand the real need in question. The process of gaining insights requires us to momentarily stop generating solutions and simply dwell in the existing situation. The beauty of this process is that it stops us from engaging with habitual patterns of thought and allows us to explore newer layers of the situation at hand, leading to the real need that mandates a response.

Tools for Innovation

Here are a couple of ways in which we can gain insights into a situation:

5-Why Analysis

The 5-Why analysis is an iterative questioning technique used to explore cause and effect relationships in a given situation, till a point that you arrive at the root cause of the problem. It was developed by Sakichi Toyoda and used originally in the Toyota Motor Corporation. Here is an example:


As we can see, while traditional problem solving offers a quick-fix, such solutions are not sustainable. Innovation allows us a newer, richer perspective that generates sustainable alternatives. It rattles us out of the belief that there can only be one way of dealing with a certain problem, just because that way has been in use for a long time.


This technique was created by Bob Eberle and is derived from Alex Osborn’s famed Checklist. SCAMPER is an acronym for Substitute – Combine – Adapt – Modify – Put to another use – Eliminate – Reverse/Rearrange. Here is an example using this technique:


So here we have innovation supplying us with multiple alternatives instead of a routine solution that will not be effective.

Allowing Innovation

Cultivating the competency and culture of innovation requires that we allow innovation. This means, we conscious pause between a problem and a solution and really explore the possibilities, much the way a child explores his/her environment without any pre-conceived notions. So does that mean innovation is time-consuming? No. Practical implementation of the tools of innovation such as the ones mentioned in this article take barely a few minutes. However, consistent innovation needs a commitment to allow the child in us to play from time to time. Now that’s a fun proposition, is it not?

(Rukmini Iyer is the Director of Exult! Solutions. She has worked extensively around Asia in the areas of organization development and training. She actively practices Non-Violent Communication, NLP and Appreciative Inquiry and is a trained expert in conflict resolution.)

Intangibles through Manpower Planning: Reviving workload studies

This article is authored by Janmenjaya Sharma, Manager Organization Development with Raysut Cement Company (RCC), Oman, Fellow of the Asian Human Resource Board (Aspi). He has over 12 years of work experience and is a gold medallist in MHRD and MPA. He may be contacted on


A survey of 30 HR Managers from the Cement Industry in India and UAE who involved themselves in the exercise of Man Power Planning (MPP) reveals that their concentration remains on accomplishing organization structuring and getting the vacant positions filled. Often this is done through the manpower acquisition forms to be filled in by the respective heads of departments which are then forwarded to the HR Department through the proper channels. The most neglected parts, revealed through this study, were to answer the basic question on how many employees we actually need in the department? Is the process being followed by the department the best and does it confirm the requirement of those numbers of employees?

Click here to find the answers: Intangibles through Manpower Planning_Janmenjaya Sharma


Restructuring Organization: Transition from functional to matrix organizational structure

This article is authored by Janmenjaya Sharma, Manager Organization Development with Raysut Cement Company (RCC), Oman, Fellow of the Asian Human Resource Board (Aspi). He has over 12 years of work experience and is a gold medallist in MHRD and MPA. He may be contacted on


With the turbulent changes in business environment and the entry of knowledge workers, the pace of changes in psychological contract has increased tremendously. Thus to maintain the job satisfaction and job productivity has brought new challenges for today’s Manager Human Resources. One of the areas most confronted by people dealing in Organization Change and Development is the suitability of organization structure in accordance with the contemporary demands of market competition and changed expectations of employees. This article attempts to help HR professionals in such issues of structural changes, specifically from traditional functional structure to more contemporary matrix structure with a special reference for manufacturing industries. The article suggests the advantages and disadvantages of the matrix structure and points at the hint which HR Managers can use wisely to take the decision for the change. Further the attempt is being made to provide the requirements to be taken care of while implementing the structural changes- procedural requirement, policy requirements, skill requirements and cultural requirements. The article gets concluded with defining broad steps for the change process, so as the desired success can be attainted through the proposed structural change.

The article can be downloaded here: Restructuring Organizations_Janmenjaya Sharma


Lessons from ‘The Dolphin’

– Rukmini Iyer, Director, Exult! Solutions

I recently read the book ‘The Dolphin – Story of a Dreamer‘ by Sergio F. Bambaren. It’s a pithy, beautiful tale of a dolphin (on the lines of ‘Jonathan Livingston Seagull’ by Richard Bach) and I feel compelled to share the lessons from it. Here are a few extracts from the book that summarise its message:

– There comes a time in life when there is nothing else to do but to go your own way. A time to follow your dreams. A time to raise the sails of your own beliefs.

– Falling into the deepest desperation gives you the chance to find your true nature. Just as dreams come alive when you least expect them to, so will the answers to questions you cannot unfold. Let your instinct build a trail of wisdom, and let your fears be diminished by hope.

– Most of us are not prepared to overcome our failures, and because of this we are not able to fulfill our gifts. It is easy to stand for something that does not carry a risk.

– May be part of loving is learning to let go, knowing when to say good-bye… not letting our feelings get in the way of what will probably, in the end, be better for the ones we care for.

– Discovering new worlds will not only bring you happiness and wisdom, but also sadness and fear. How could you value happiness without knowing what sadness is? How could you achieve wisdom without facing your own fears? In the end, the great challenge in life is to overcome the limits within yourself, pushing them to places you would never have dreamed they could go.

– Perhaps dreams are made of lots of hard work. Perhaps if we try to cut corners, we lose track of the reason we started dreaming and at the end we find that the dream no longer belongs to us. Perhaps if we just follow the wisdom from our heart, then time will make sure we get to our destiny.

– Never forget: When you’re just about to give up, when you feel that life has been too hard on you, remember who you are. Remember your dream.

– There are some things you cannot see with your eyes. You have to see them with your heart, and that is the hard part of it. For instance, if you find the spirit of the youngster inside of you, with your memories and his dreams, you two will walk together, trying to find a way through this adventure called life. Always trying to make the best of it. And your heart will never become tired or old…

– Decisions are a way of defining ourselves. They are the way to give life and meaning to words, to dreams. They are the way to let what we are… be what we want to be.

– Where you are headed, there are no trails, no paths, just your own instinct. You have followed the omens, and have finally arrived. And now, you have to take the great leap into the unknown and find out for yourself: who is wrong, who is right and who you are.

– Some things will always be stronger than time and distance. Deeper than languages and ways. Like following your dreams, and learning to be yourself. Sharing with others the magic you have found…