Ask 3 Questions to Assess Workplace Needs and Improve Workflow

Find the breakdown in communication. Create the training you need.

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You know something is wrong with your company's workflow, but you don't know what it is. You can't fix the problem until you know exactly what it is. Asking three simple questions can help you determine where the breakdown in communication is happening. Once you know that, you can solve the problem by creating the training your employees need.

There are a lot of scientific methods out there for assessing training or learning needs in the workplace, and sometimes it's important to take that route, depending on what you're assessing and how big your project is, but assessment does not have to be complicated.

One of the strategies I have found most useful in the workplace is a simple, although time intensive, interviewing process. You might call it a Process Improvement Discussion.

First, identify what seems to be the problem. What is wrong? Sometimes this information comes in the form of customer or employee complaints. Talk to Customer Service and Human Resources if they haven't already come to you. Be sure to talk to your front-line employees. They are often overlooked and are almost always the people most in touch with what your customers like and don't like, what they want and don't want.

I once worked for a retail company that redesigned the checkout process in the garden center without talking with the cashiers. You can imagine how frustrating and chaotic the spring rush was when nothing was where the employees needed it. Talk to these employees, especially before you make expensive changes in their work area!

Identify Key People

Next, identify key people to interview at every level of the company. Every level, from the very top to the front-line employee. Make an appointment to sit down with each person for an interview.

Ask three simple questions and take good notes or record the conversation with the permission of the person being interviewed.

There are recording apps for your phone or other mobile device for this kind of thing. Take photographs of important situations if relevant.

The Questions

Question 1: What do you need to do your job and where does it come from? (Okay, that's two, but they go together.)

Question 2: What do you do with that information or product and how long does it take?

Question 3: Who is depending on you to provide whatever it is you do? Who do you give your information or product to?

One Big Process

We all depend on each other in the workplace. It's all one big process with internal customers throughout the company. What we're trying to learn here is where and how the process is breaking down.

Who isn't getting what they need? Why can't they do what they need to do once they get it? And why aren't they providing their internal customer with whatever it is that person needs?

When you have all of that information, it's usually pretty clear where the breakdown in communication or workflow is, and you can get busy providing the training necessary to remedy the situation. This training might be targeted at individuals or entire departments.

If you're writing your own course, course design is important. It, too, can be easy.

Focus groups are also an effective way to assess training needs. See Susan M. Heathfield's article: Conduct a Simple Training Needs Assessment

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Peterson, Deb. "Ask 3 Questions to Assess Workplace Needs and Improve Workflow." ThoughtCo, Feb. 4, 2017, thoughtco.com/assess-workplace-needs-and-improve-workflow-31642. Peterson, Deb. (2017, February 4). Ask 3 Questions to Assess Workplace Needs and Improve Workflow. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/assess-workplace-needs-and-improve-workflow-31642 Peterson, Deb. "Ask 3 Questions to Assess Workplace Needs and Improve Workflow." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/assess-workplace-needs-and-improve-workflow-31642 (accessed November 22, 2017).