Training Needs Analysis Practices for Managers: A Study of Saudi Arabia Private Firms
Training needs analysis (TNA) is defined by Mabey and Salman (1995:158) as a "process of collecting data which allows an organization to identify and compare its actual level with its desired level of performance." The authors also indicate that this performance could be interpreted as meaning the competencies and attitude necessary for the staff to do the job effectively. Moreover, Armstrong (1996:536) states that "training needs assessment is partly concerned with finding the gap between what is happening and what should happen.. This is what has to be filled by training ." Figure (1.1) depicts this gap.
The training Gap
WHAT SHOULD BE
CORPORATE OR FUNCTIONAL ATANDARDS
KNOWLEDGE AND SKILL REQUIRED
TARGETS OR STANDARDS OF
CORPORATE FOR FUNCTIONAL RESULTS
KNOWLEDGE AND SKILL POSSESSED
ACTUAL PERFORMANCE OF INDIVIDUALS
Source: Armstrong (1996)
Gibson (1999) asserts that there is a clear need for organizations to carry out a comprehensive training needs analysis before finalizing their training plans; yet despite global concurrence among academicians and HR practitioners, this exercise is not being religiously conducted. The current study intends to carry out a training needs analysis in selected private sector organizations in Saudi Arabia.
Training needs analysis is a crucial facet of the training cycle because it is upon which the effectiveness of all the other phases rest. These phases include training design, deployment, and evaluation. Moreover, it is also difficult to carry out because the parties from whom data are gathered may have varying perspectives on the exercise. There are other circumstances that aggravate the conduct of training needs analysis, such as the situation in which an external consultant merely receives input on the training needs analysis and has not been involved in the process. Moreover, there is some sensitivity involved in training needs analysis. Reid and Barrington (1999) point out that there may be some sensitivity involved in gathering, gauging, and analysing the training needs of an organisation. This is specially true if the process involves determining weak areas that need to be improved. These are but some of the issues that need to be watched out for in the conduct of the training needs analysis in the selected companies.
The conventional models of training needs analysis takes into consideration only the requirements of the job and the extent to which the incumbent meets these requisites. However, it is clear from the view of many HR authors and practitioners that this view is wanting. To be able to make the human resources function truly strategic, there is a need to scan the environment and integrate the strategies of the enterprise into HR strategy. Only in doing so can the HR function truly have value.
The methodology which the current research adopts is based on the theoretical framework of Sleezer (1993), which upholds a holistic approach to training needs analysis. The framework requires analyses at the organisational, task, and person levels.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Currently lack of research and inadequate benchmarks exist for the training needs of companies belonging to the private sector of Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, in the context of Saudi Arabia, there is dearth of literature which focuses on workforce development. The current research aims to provide an adequate analysis of the training needs of companies belonging to the private sector of Saudi Arabia. In providing sound methodology and best practices in undertaking such analysis, the research may serve as a benchmark for similar companies who intend to develop their workforce systematically. Furthermore, in being able to contribute to the development of manpower in the private sector, there will eventually be contribution to the economic sector of Saudi Arabia overall. Moreover, it may also provide a template for systematically assessing the training needs within this industry.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The current research aims to determine how private companies in Saudi Arabia carry out their training needs analysis. This will be done by adopting a case study approach and using a survey, interviews and questionnaire, to collect data. Subsequently, regression and coding techniques will be used as a data analysis tool to infer the results.
In particular, the researcher aims to address the following objectives:
1) To determine the objectives in conducting training needs analysis in Saudi Arabian private sector firms;
2) To ascertain how these firms determine the skills of those in managerial positions match those of job requirements;
3) To determine the actions undertaken by human resource managers in the event that the incumbent managers do not possess the skills required of them by their job descriptions.
4) In doing this explore any barriers the firm encounter in achieving the above 3 objective.
1.5 Research Questions and Methodology Overview
The following are the research questions which the researcher intends to answer in the current research:
1) What are the objectives in conducting training needs analysis in Saudi Arabian private sector firms?
2) How do these firms determine the skills of those in managerial positions match those of job requirements?
3) What are the actions undertaken by human resource managers in the event that the incumbent managers do not possess the skills required of them by their job descriptions?
4) What barriers do firms encounter in achieving the above 3 objectives?
The researcher adopted a case study approach and investigated the TNA phenomenon in 33 Saudi Arabian firms. In order to answer the first three research questions, an in depth semi-structured interview was carried out. However, for the forth research question the researcher developed a close-ended questionnaire on a Likert Scale.
1.6 Significance of the Study
To justify the research on TNA, a few areas are looked at namely current TNA research, importance of TNA, neglect of the specific research problem by previous researchers, and usefulness of potential application of research's finding.
Much of the current TNA research is empirically driven and shows a serious lack of theory development. This means that current TNA research is lacking theoretical frameworks and research designs that would allow a deep understanding of this area. Hence, this study builds on the existing research by a conceptual framework to examine how the effectiveness and use of TNA.
In recent years, TNA becomes an increasingly visible element in organizational management and performance. Many companies have spent millions of dollars on TNA. This trend has been accompanied by growing concern about the way that TNA is handled by large, diversified companies. This shows that corporate TNA is important which justifies research on TNA. Although, there are many researches done on TNA especially sport TNA, there is still neglect of the specific research problem by previous researchers.
The areas that previous researchers show neglect of the specific research problem are that they did not measure TNA in relation to barriers. Most of them looked into effectiveness of TNA, employee behavior and not in the context Saudi Arabia. Most researchers did not use a comprehensive theoretical framework to look into TNA in Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, little knowledge exists to help evaluate the effectiveness of TNA as increasing companies are spending more money into it.
The usefulness of the potential applications of the research's findings is that TNA will lead to higher productivity and performance. Furthermore, top management will be able to identify what kind of program is useful and what actually in the program that appeal to them. In addition, the result also will let HR managers know how to plan their program. Finally, the research finding will lead to HR managers knowing how to effective influence workforce to get involved in individual and group development.
1.7 Outline of the thesis
The next chapter contains pertinent information about the human resource management, then progresses into a discussion of strategic human resource management. This is where training needs analysis is considered in the context of being a strategic human resource management tool. The phases, importance, and issues about training are presented towards the latter part of this section. The methodology chapter presents the research approach, procedure, sampling, and method of data analysis employed in the research. The results section discusses the statistical results gathered from the survey questionnaire. These are juxtaposed with the qualitative results of the interviews and running records; and compared and contrasted against the findings of previous literature. Finally, conclusions and recommendations are put forth for the private sector companies in the last chapter.
1.8 Limitations of the Study
Every study has its own limitations. The limitations of this study are as follows: The investigation will be conducted only in the private sectors in Saudi Arabia. Moreover, the findings will apply only to medium and large size private sector organisations. Finally, only organisations registered at Ministry of Industry will constitute the population of this study.
Summary of chapter 1:
This chapter laid the foundation for the thesis. It introduced the research problem and research questions and purpose of the study. Then the research was justified, and the limitations were given. On these…