It increases the level of individual and organisational competence and helps to reconcile the gap between what should happen, and desired targets and standards of performance; and what is happening and actual levels of work performance. According to Armstrong (2001): "training needs analysis is partly concerned with defining the gap between what is happanng and what should happen. However, it is necessary to avoid falling into the trap of adopting the "deficiency model" approach, which implies that training is only about putting things rights that have gone wrong" (Armstrong, 2001, p. 551-552).
Training needs assessment is necessary to ensure an adequate supply of staff who are technically and socially competent, and capable of career advancement into specialist departments or management positions. There is, therefore, a continual need for the process of staff development, and training fulfils an important part of this process. Training should be viewed, therefore, as an integral part of the process of total quality management.
Armstrong divides training needs assessment into three levels: corporate, group and individual level (Armstrong, 2001). A large number of organisations make some use of separate training needs analysis, although this is usually a periodic rather than a regular activity. There are many different ways of conducting such assessments, but they usually involve some form of survey, either by discussion or questionnaire, with managers. This does not automatically remove the problem of a failure to perceive the real needs, which occurs with annual appraisals (Beardwell, Holden, 2004). The same people are involved, and unless they are provoked by the approach into a different way of thinking, the probability is that their response will be the same as in the appraisal.
One approach, which is somewhat broader than an assessment of training needs is to design a workshop for senior managers to work through what is needed to implement some of the strategic decisions the company has made (Reed, 2001). Part of this workshop would involve a consideration of the skills required against what they feel exists within the company. This can help managers to perceive needs which may otherwise be hidden to them, such as the many capabilities needed to manage strategic alliances, and the degree to which the managers who report to them have experience or knowledge that is relevant.
Another approach is bottom-up feedback. This approach can be used in performance management processes, as a basis for personal improvement, and in order to gain a more objective view of company capabilities and areas of management weakness. They are particularly useful for measuring capabilities in management and interpersonal skills, aspects of a manager's behaviour which are experienced by others besides a manager's boss, peers and subordinates, and in some cases customers and suppliers. All the methods take readings from one or all of these groups of people, as well as requiring the manager to undertake a