Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Needs Assessment

The Organization that I choose to take a deeper look into was Whole Foods. These stakeholder questions regarding the needs assessment will be focusing on the organization of Whole Foods.  

What stakeholders would you want to make sure to get buy-in from?
Before one understands which stakeholders to get buy-in from they must first understand the company they are seeking to serve. Whole Foods places a priority on organic foods and they strive to bring their clients the best foods that have been locally grown. Whole Foods truly is the leader in organically based food and they have numerous markets across America. In order to get buy-in, I would target corporate managers, specific store owners, employees and the farmers that they use to source food. This organization is multifaceted because it doesn’t follow a typical top down approach to business. Its organizational structure reflects its values, therefore the needs assessment needs to ask specific questions that uncover the need. Noe (2013) states that, “the goal of needs assessment is to determine whether a training need exists, who it exists for, and for what tasks training is needed” (p.116).

What questions would you ask (and to whom would you address them) during the organizational, person, and task analysis phases?
What? Organizational Analysis: (President, CFO, Corporate Mangers, Store Owners)
·       -What is the history of your organization? (Who is involved etc.)?
·       -Will you tell me a little about your mission and vision?
·       -What are the organizational goals?
·       -In order to achieve these goals what are some challenges you are facing?
·       -How do you think these challenges need to be overcome?
·       -How would you define success in your business?
·       -What role do you see the training having you in helping you realize this goal?

The Organizational Analysis phase is the stage when asking questions of stakeholders is the primary task so that you can understand the current situation (reality) alongside the desired situation (goals). A key goal in this section is for the client/stakeholder to put words on their version of success so that the selected intervention sets realistic expectations, meets actual needs and is in line with the client’s current mission/vision.

Who? Person/Learner Analysis: (Store Owners, Employees, Farmers)
·       -What do they do? Can you describe a typical day in the life?
·       -Can you give me a general sense of their demographics (age, gender, etc.)
·       -What was the process you have for finding and hiring them?
·       -Where do you see a performance or organizational gap occurring?
·       -What motivates and drives their performance? What doesn’t?
·       -How are they currently trained to perform their work tasks?
·       -What is there work environment like?
·       -Do they use any essential tools/methods for performing their tasks?
·       -What is their current skill level? (new, experienced, expert)?
·       -How do you encourage or motivate other lead drivers? Do you use incentives or rewards?

Noe (2013) notes that, “the needs assessment process results in information related to who needs training and what trainees need to learn, including the tasks in which they need to be trained, plus knowledge, skill, behavior, or other job requirements” (p.125). Discovering the knowledge, skills, attitudes and abilities is crucial for this stage along with the tasks related.

How? Task Analysis: (President, Store Owners, Farmers, Employees)
·      - Based upon the performance gap you shared, what do you think the training/learning objectives should be?
·       -What resources or training content do you already use?
·       -What content needs to be covered?
·       -Can you identify behaviors needed for effective job performance?  
·       -What skills are necessary to meet today are needs, as well as the company’s future skill needs?
·       -Can you  provide a common set of criteria that are used for identifying appropriate development training and learning activities for employees, as well as for evaluating and re- warding them?

Noe (2013) noted that the “task analysis results in a description of work activities, including tasks performed by the employee and the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to complete the tasks” (p.135).

What documents or records might you ask to see?
Since Whole Foods in national known I would want to collect their pre-existing data on previous trainings, workplace performance reviews, hiring processes, specific store organizational structures, employee development and incentives, and what areas of learning and development have worked in the past. With this much data it will be easier to understand the instructional context for the need and therefore understand whether it is a performance issues that needs a training solution. Collecting existing data saves time and money for organizations, and also delivers a more accurate solution that aligns with the business goals.

What techniques would you employ and why?
Observations, questionnaires, interviews, focus groups and collecting historical data. Using a mixed method approach that includes collecting pre-existing data, interviews, focus groups, and surveys will target the diverse student population that Whole Foods serves. There needs to be a multifaceted and diverse approach to collecting viable information. Fitzpatrick, Sanders and Worthen (2010) make the exact same point stating that, “in fact, stakeholder involvement in interpreting the results of the data analysis can serve several purposes. In addition to potentially adding to the validity or comprehensiveness of the conclusions, their involvement can increase their later use of the information as they understand more about why the conclusions were reached” (p.448). Using these techniques and showing the findings to the stakeholders during the process will be crucial. 


Noe, R. A. (2013). Employee training and development (6th ed). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Stolovitch, H. D. (2011). Telling ain't training: updated, expanded, and enhanced, 2nd edition. American Society for Training and Development. 

Fitzpatrick, J., Sanders, J., & Worthen, B. (2010). Program evaluation: Alternative approaches and practical guidelines (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.


  1. Dear Garth

    I enjoyed reading your post and like the fact that you have considered all stakeholders, all the way up and down the supply chain, down to the source, the farmers. This addresses the need to determine the difference between employees current and expected performance (gap analysis, Noe, 2017), and the farmers while perhaps not directly employed by Wholefoods, are an important variable to consider as they are the source of the product/produce.

    In the documents section, you may want to ask for product procurement and inventory - particularly if there is disconnect between the demand (business need) and supply (what the farmers are growing).


  2. Garth,

    Well done on your needs assessment. You did a nice job of addressing if there is a need for training as well as who needs the training along with what they need to know (Noe, 2013). You elected a mixed method approach for collecting data. How will you determine your focus groups? Will you take into account the length of time employees have been part of the organization, or will it just be a randomization of selecting people?


    1. Reference
      Noe, R. (2013). Employee training and development (6th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.