Task Analysis and Training and Development

By Elaine Biech

At some point in your career you’re likely to find folks who are involved in task analysis. In its simplest form, task analysis breaks a job (task) down into observable steps. It also reveals the knowledge and skills the employee needs to complete each step.

At times task analysis may be used to determine training needs. It may be a part of the analysis completed during the needs assessment. Learning objectives may be written based on the task analysis.

For example, the task of tying a shoe can be broken down to 214 steps! Task-analysis steps are completed to determine which aspects of the job to include in a training program:

  1. Identify tasks that are required for performing the job.

  2. For each task, list the exact steps that a person must do to complete the task. List every step from start to finish in order, no matter how small the step.

  3. When listing the steps, make them as clear as possible. Even the ­smallest assumption can create confusion in the actual performance ofthe task.

  4. After you have completed all steps for every task, go back and ­identify each step in one of three ways:

    • Common knowledge: Trainee will know how to do this step because of common knowledge. No training is necessary for this step.

    • On-the-job training: The step is simple enough that the trainee can learn it on the job. No training is necessary for this step, but you may want to consider developing a job aid such as a check sheet or a list of procedures.

    • Training topic: The trainee will not know how to do this step without training. Your technical training program should be based around these topics.

  5. Ask a subject matter expert (SME) to review your task analysis to see whether you have analyzed the job(s) correctly.

  6. Design your training program around those topics you identified as requiring training.

  7. If you also develop job aids, make sure they are integrated into the training program so that trainees know they are available and so that they can ask questions, if they have them.

Task analysis and training objectives are used prior to designing the training program. Both are critical steps between conducting the needs assessment and designing the training program. Both play a part in setting the goals of the training session and ultimately achieving them. As David Campbell says, “Aim at nothing and you’ll hit it every time.”