Step 3: Diagnose Learning Needs

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Exactly what is the difference between the individual’s present knowledge and

skills and the work requirements of the key position for which the individual

is to be prepared? The answer to that question clarifies the developmental gap.

One way to determine this difference is to compare the individual’s present

work requirements and performance to those required in a targeted key

position. (You might think of that as akin to conducting a performance appraisal

on a position to which the individual aspires or for which he or she is

being groomed.) As a simple example, it may involve comparing how well an

employee could perform his or her immediate supervisor’s job.

Another way to determine this difference is to ask the key position incum-

Exhibit 10-4. A Simplified Model of Steps in Preparing Individual

Development Plans (IDPs)

Step One:

Selecting Possible Key Positions for

Which to Prepare the Individual or Competencies

Needing Development

Step Two:

Considering the Likely Time during Which

the Individual Must Be Prepared

Step Three:

Diagnosing Learning Needs/Competency-Building Needs

Step Four:

Specifying Learning Objectives

Based on the Results of Step Three

Step Five:

Specifying Learning Resources and Strategies

Needed to Achieve Learning Objectives

Step Six:

Specifying Evidence of Accomplishment

Step Seven:

Specifying How the Evidence

Will Be Validated

Step Eight:

Reviewing the Contract

with Consultants

Step Nine:

Carrying Out the Contract

Step Ten:

Evaluating Learning and Outcomes

bent to review the individual’s present work requirements and performance

against the requirements of the incumbent’s position and to recommend

planned developmental activities to narrow the gap between what the employee

already knows and can do and what he or she should know or do to

perform in the place of the key position incumbent.

When diagnosing learning needs, be aware that the quality of the results

depends on the quality of the diagnosis. Shortcuts are not conducive to useful

outcomes. While busy executives might prefer to short-circuit this process, that

will usually prove to be counterproductive.

Step 4: Specify Learning Objectives Based on the Results of Step 3

Learning objectives are the outcomes or results that are sought from planned

developmental activities. Needs represent deficiencies or problems to be

solved; objectives, on the other hand, represent desired solutions. Each need

should be linked to one—or more—learning objectives to ensure that each

‘‘problem’’ will be solved.

Learning objectives should always be stated in measurable terms. As Robert

F. Mager has noted, learning objectives should usually have three components8:

Resources. What equipment, tools, information, or other resources

must be provided for the learner to demonstrate the necessary knowledge,

skills, or abilities?

Criteria. How will achievement of learning objectives be measured?

What minimum performance standards must be achieved for the individual

to demonstrate competence?

Conditions. Under what conditions must the learner perform?

Use the worksheet appearing in Exhibit 10-5 to prepare learning objectives

based on individual developmental needs.

Step 5: Specify Learning Resources and Strategies Needed to Achieve the Learning

Objectives

Learning strategies are the means by which learning objectives are to be

achieved. There are many strategies by which to achieve learning objectives.

Appropriate learning strategies depend on the learning objectives that are to

be met. They answer this question: What planned learning activities will help

narrow the gap between what individuals already know and what they must

know to meet key position requirements in the future?

Learning resources are what must be provided to achieve the learning objectives.

Resources might include people, money, time, expertise, equipment,

or information. People resources could include trainers, coaches, mentors, or

sponsors. Money resources could include funding for participation in on-thejob

or off-the-job developmental experiences. Time resources could include

Exhibit 10-5. A Worksheet for Preparing Learning Objectives Based on

Individual Development Needs

Directions: Use this worksheet to help you prepare specific, measurable learning

objectives to guide the process of meeting individual development needs.

In the left column below, indicate activities, responsibilities, duties, tasks, or essential

job functions to which the individual needs exposure in order to qualify for advancement.

Then, in the right column below, draft specific and measurable learning objectives

to describe what individuals should be able to know, do, or feel upon

completion of a planned development/learning experience tied to those activities,

responsibilities, duties, tasks, or essential job functions. When you finish drafting the

objectives, double-check them to ensure that you have listed (1) resources, such as

information, equipment, or tools that are necessary for demonstrating the objective;

(2) measurable criteria by which to assess how well the learning objective was

achieved.

Indicate Activities, Responsibilities, Duties,

Tasks, or Essential Job Functions to Which

the Individual Needs Exposure in Order to Specific and Measurable Learning