Training, as most people think of it, is about building specific skills. The utility and connection of training to the workplace is implied. Professional trainers have another take on training which they dub performance improvement. Here the focus is on solving performance problems to achieve business results. Performance improvement encompasses skills training but also considers other issues as well, such as does the organizational structure (decision making, supervision, feedback) support the workflow and are the environmental working conditions (equipment, light, interruptions) appropriate.
The concept of “performance improvement” is often an easier sell to management and trainees than “training” because the emphasis shifts from the person to overall performance of the organization. Whether you elect to offer traditional training or performance improvement, the Instructional Systems Design (ISD) model will be a useful framework. The ISD model, sometimes alternatively called Instructional Systems Development Model, consists of five phases, usually described as analysis, objectives, design, delivery and evaluation. This training model is a systematic approach to managing human capital.
The phases interrelate and form a continuous cycle. Analysis Analysis, also called needs assessment, is about pinpointing the gap between the present situation and what the situation ought to be. There is no perfect way to do needs analysis. It depends on the circumstances and the resources and whether the performance barriers appear to evolve from behavioral, environmental, organizational or external regulatory sources. Needs assessment is often a validation of what is already known and helps to get support for the proposed training.
Experienced trainers enter the ISD cycle at the needs analysis phase, starting with the design of an instrument (needs assessment tool) to collect and interpret data concerning performance–at the individual, group or organizational levels. Assessment tools can be surveys, questionnaires, observations, interviews or a combination of investigations. Smaller organizations may use the more informal tools of observations and interviews but they need to document the assessment process so it becomes an integral part of the ISD cycle and can be used as a foundation for both the evaluation and objectives phases.