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This post is a series of questions to consider during the up-front definition phase of an enterprise initiative for leadership development program. Specifically during a needs analysis for the LDP.

Needs Assessment

  • Does the needs analysis identify the organizational context?
  • Does the needs analysis determine intended outcomes?
  • What methods will you use to collect data (questionnaires, interviews, focus groups)?
  • What is the appropriate scope of an organization-wide needs assessment?
  • What are the organizational advancement pathways?

Target Audience Questions for Needs Analysis Data Collection

  • What training or coaching did you receive in preparation for your current position? What would have helped initially? What could help now?
  • What performance is expected from you?
  • What performance expectations, including measures, been established for the desired performance?
  • How would you characterize the number of priorities that vie for your time and attention (Goldilocks: too few, just right, too many)?
  • Are the resources allocated sufficient (time, staff, budget, information, tools) to get the job done?
  • Is the facility or location sufficient to get the job done?
  • Do you have the skills and knowledge to perform at the expected level?
  • What is your number one priority problem or opportunity now?
  • How would you describe your normal situations involving customers, suppliers, and projects?
  • How would you describe your abnormal or emergency situations involving customers, suppliers, and projects?
  • How does your performance help the organization achieve it’s goals and objectives?
  • What information do you get about your performance? How do you know you’re doing a good job?
  • What is the frequency of performance feedback? Degree of consistency?
  • How does the feedback impact you? Positive, negative consequences? Magnitude (how much does it matter to you)?
  • How relevant are the performance measures used? How would you change them?
  • How do you receive the measures? Frequency / How timely?
  • How clear, specific, timely, and honest is the feedback to you?
  • How is your progress measured over time?
  • To what degree is the feedback delivery positive and non-threatening?
  • What is going on in the organization’s external environment?
  • Is the organizational workforce ready to compete?

Target Audience’s Managers Questions for Needs Analysis Data Collection

  • What are the few questions you can ask from this list or your own list that get to the 20% of the factors that produce 80% of the results?
  • What is the biggest challenge, issue, change, opportunity or problem you face as a manager?
  • To what degree are the performances you observe what you expect? What would you like the leaders (or high potentials) who report to you to do differently?
  • Have performance expectations, including measures, been established for the desired performance of leaders (or high potentials)?
  • Do leaders (or high potentials) see the signals to perform? The contextual triggers elicit an appropriate response?
  • Does their job role for leaders (or high potentials) need redesign?
  • Are there too many priorities that vie for their time and attention? Work flows towards competence.
  • Sufficiency of the resources allocated (time, staff, budget, information, tools, facility)?
  • Do the leaders (or high potentials) have the skills and knowledge to perform at the expected level?
  • To what degree have you clarified why the performance is needed?
  • What are the important issues, problems, or changes your direct reports face right now?
  • What is your number one priority problem or opportunity now? How are leaders (or high potentials) helping?
  • How would you describe your normal situations involving customers, suppliers, and projects?
  • How would you describe your abnormal or emergency situations involving customers, suppliers, and projects?
  • To what degree do the leaders (or high potentials) know how their performance helps achieve the organization’s goals and objectives?
  • What information do leaders (or high potentials) get about their performance? How do they know they’re doing a good job?
  • To what degree is there a closed loop feedback system for performance by leaders (or high potentials)?
  • Frequency of feedback? Degree of consistency?
  • How does the feedback impact the performer (magnitude of impact)?
  • Does the feedback they receive align with what you want from them?
  • How relevant are the performance measures?
  • How do they receive the metrics? Frequency / How timely?
  • How clear, specific, timely, and honest is the feedback to the leaders (or high potentials)?
  • How do you measure progress over time by leaders (or high potentials) (because leadership development has a long cycle time)?
  • To what degree is the feedback delivery positive and non-threatening?
  • How confident (percentage) are you the feedback is effective for leaders (or high potentials)?
  • How would you characterize the feedback you get for your performance (same factors: frequency, timeliness, etc.)?
  • What training, mentoring, coaching did you receive to get ready for your current position? What would have helped initially? What could help now?
  • What skills, knowledge, or attitudes do you think the leaders (or high potentials) in your area need to gain or improve upon to do their jobs better?
  • What are the potential barriers that might get in the way of our training efforts?

Existing Information Sources

Consider the following existing data sources for leaders (or high potentials): * Performance appraisal data for the target time horizon * Entries from feedback tools or systems * Feedback from Matrix leaders supported * Feedback from process owners affected by change initiatives they helped lead * Exit interviews * Turnover records * Customer feedback (both positive and complaints) * Supplier feedback * Incident reports * Employee complaints * Department audits * Key Talent assessments * Succession plan candidate names * Learning Management System (LMS) data * Learning Record Store (LRS) data * Talent Management System (TMS) data * Trip reports or Feedback from Executive Courses at business schools for key people * Resume (experiences leading up to this point in their career)

Data Analysis Questions

  • What deliverable work products are expected from the needs analysis?
  • What does the quantitative data indicate?
  • To what degree is statistical analysis expected?
  • What does the qualitative data indicate?
  • How can you verify qualitative perceptions with survey results and other quantitative data?
  • What are the organizational priorities (business need) to focus the analysis?

Reporting Needs Assessment Findings, Conclusions, and Recommendations

  • Who are the key people to receive the needs analysis results?
  • Given your organizational culture, to what degree is it prudent to socialize the preliminary findings with specific key people, what the Japanese call nemawashi (根回し), before any formal release?
  • Does the assessment identify development needs?
  • How does the assessment prioritize needs? Aligned to business objectives?
  • How will executives validate the development needs?
  • What are the solution components (e.g. Development Plans, Targeted feedback and career discussions, Defined talent tracking needed)?
  • How have you demonstrated awareness of the gender, culture, and age differences and made adjustments accordingly?
  • How well are the analysis findings, conclusions and recommendations supported (traceable) to the data collected?
  • Is the analysis process described?
  • Are risks and opportunities described with recommended risk mitigation actions and opportunity enhancement actions?
  • Is the tone of the needs analysis feedback appropriate (positive)?
  • Is a written report necessary?
  • If so does it include an Executive Summary?
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KW Lanham


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