What is a capability needs analysis?

A capability needs analysis is the process of identifying the learning and development needs of employees to ensure they have the skills to effectively complete their work role. The capability needs analysis is linked to the workplace role outline and design process.

A capability needs analysis involves identifying a gap between the current skills of the employee, or group of employees, and the skills and competencies needed for the job they are employed to complete. The analysis may stem from overall company goals down to the specifics of a role. The analysis may also cover areas specific to all employees such as work health and safety.  

There are 3 levels that can be addressed in a capability needs analysis: 

1. Organisational

This level considers an organisation’s strategies and goals and where resources should best be invested to achieve these goals. This also incorporates areas such as an organisation’s culture, HR objectives and external influences. 

2. Task / job level

This level considers the specific skills, knowledge and abilities required to perform a particular job within the organisation. This looks back to the position description and job analysis as a basis for analysing accepted standards of work outputs. 

3. Individual level

This level considers the performance of an individual compared to the expected performance standards. Common examples of assessing performance are performance appraisals and customer feedback. 

How Do I Conduct a Capability Needs Analysis?

The capability needs analysis should be tailored to the organisational setting, the job that is being performed and the individual performing the job. As a basic guide to conducting a needs analysis, (Stone, 2021, Ch. 9, p. 239) suggests this sequence: 

  1. Assessment. Establish what is needed, by whom, when and where, so that capability objectives can be determined. 
  2. Capability activity. Once objectives are determined, select the capability methods and learning principles best suited to the objectives. 
  3. Evaluation. Measure how well the activity met the capability and development objectives. 

Once needs have been identified, a decision needs to be made as to whether these needs can be rectified by training, or if it requires alternative action (for example counselling for underperformance and discipline). It is essential to correctly identify capability needs in order to design, deliver and measure value to the organisation accurately and demonstrate return on investment. 

References: Stone, R.J. (2021). Human Resource Management, 10th edn, John Wiley & Sons Australia Ltd, Qld (e-book) 

Updated February 2022