Speaking Your Stakeholder’s Language: How To Get Buy-In And Time To Conduct A Needs Analysis

How To Get Buy-In And Time To Conduct A Needs Analysis
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Summary: How do you win over stakeholders and save time when conducting a needs analysis? Learn tips to prove TNA value and take charge of the process.

Needs Analysis — How To Save Time And Get Buy-In From Stakeholders

Needs analysis continues to be a challenge for L&D professionals, with nearly 60% of respondents who participated in our survey ranking it among their top five content creation challenges. When asked to expand on the specific barriers they’re encountering, two themes emerged: finding the time to conduct a needs analysis and getting stakeholder buy-in.

These appear to be disparate themes, yet they’re intrinsically linked. After all, if L&D can convince stakeholders about the value of a needs analysis, we should (in theory) be granted the time to do it properly.

eBook Release: 2023 Learning & Development And Learner Experience Trends Report
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2023 Learning & Development And Learner Experience Trends Report
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How Do We Convince Stakeholders Of The Value Of Needs Analysis?

The long answer, as we reveal in our Needs Analysis Playbook: How to Make L&D a Trusted Partner in Your Organization, requires us to adopt a mindset shift. One in which we move away from the role of order-taker and toward that of a consultant.

The short answer is that we need to speak our stakeholders’ language. I would even go as far as to say that we need to remove the words ‘needs analysis’ from our vocabulary entirely when speaking with stakeholders.

Think about it for a moment; stakeholders are interested in one thing only: results. They’re not interested in the ins and outs of how we get there; they just want us to deliver the results they’re looking for.

That said, they should be interested in engaging in conversations to uncover what success looks like to them and what, specifically, the expected outcomes or results must look like. They should also be fully prepared to explain:

  • What the underlying problem is that needs to be solved, and how it surfaced.
  • Why it’s important for the business to solve the problem, and what are the risks of doing nothing.
  • Who the problem impacts the most and what these folks are doing now vs. what they should be doing after a solution is put in place.
  • What, if any, barriers they anticipate as it relates the adoption and implementation of a solution. (What might prevent the solution from being a success?)

In business terms, this would be called a consultation or discovery conversation. In the L&D vernacular: it’s a stakeholder analysis and forms the basis of the needs analysis process.

So how does this conversation help you get buy-in and time to do a needs analysis?

Truthfully? When you have this conversation with the stakeholder (and you really must have this conversation. every. single. time.), you won’t need buy-in or ‘permission’ for needs analysis. Why? Because you’ll use the findings from this conversation to lead what happens next, including any additional needs analysis activities that are required.

Take Charge Of The Needs Analysis Process

After meeting with the stakeholder, prepare a brief report (of no more than 1-2 pages) that clearly summarizes the business need, who it affects, and what the desired outcomes are.

Then, list the steps you will take to solve the problem. This list should include more needs analysis activities such as ‘conversations with the affected population’ (i.e., audience analysis and performance gap analysis), and ‘gathering and reviewing existing training resources’ (content mapping and analysis). Include a brief rationale for each and be sure to tie it back to your findings.

By consulting with stakeholders on their needs, speaking to them in a language they understand, and linking your process to their needs, you’ll build trust and gain credibility. You’ll eliminate the necessity to seek permission and instead focus on results!

Download The Report

Download our 2023 Learning & Development And Learner Experience Trends Report today if you're ready to keep learning and changing together and overcome your biggest eLearning content creation challenges. We also invite you to check out our webinar WebVR = L&D's VR Gateway To The Enterprise! to discover why VR is such a powerful tool for learner engagement.

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