The Best Questions to Understand Learning Needs

The Best Questions to Understand Learning Needs

What questions do you ask to understand the learning needs of individuals and teams in your organisation? This often comes up in our Learning and Development programmes.

Training, learning, development call it what you will is essential for businesses to grow. So why wouldn’t the learning professional want to ask the right questions to make sure solutions hit the mark?

Whether that solution ends up as being a course, a programme, a resource, a piece of online learning, offline learning, coaching, mentoring or something entirely different matters not. What does matter is that the solution is fit for purpose and delivers the performance improvements that are needed by the organisation.

It’s like starting with the end in mind and figuring out what good looks like right from the offset.

I hopped onto the weekly #LnDInsight chat, a weekly chat on Twitter every Friday from 8am to 9am hosted by LnDConnect. That was exactly the topic of discussion this morning....

I’ve taken time here to list here some of the questions that came up as part of that Twitter discussion. I’d highly recommend a read through to choose the ones you're most likely to use next time. Let me know in the comments. I'm interested.

In the meantime, if you want to get even better at these approaches, figure out your next steps with our Learning and Development programmes.


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Ady Howes - Community Manager, DPG

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  • Lots of great questions above. The one I think is the most powerful is 'Fancy a coffee?'

    To me, it speaks of collaboration to solve a problem rather than someone 'selling' a solution to a 'purchaser' who wants something whether they really need it or not. Win all round IMHO!

    In the context of asking these kind of questions, I think it’s important to differentiate whether the questions are about learning, or about performance. That is, are you doing performance consultancy or learning consultancy. Performance consultancy should ALWAYS precede learning consultancy, but often doesn’t. Performance consultancy starts from the premise that the required performances not happening, and we don’t know why until we dig into the issue. Of all the possible solutions to the performance issue, we might discover that some kind of learning intervention is one of the solutions. Then, and only then, do we start doing learning consultancy which starts from the premise that we require a learning solution. Then we can ask about what learning is required, and how we might facilitate that.

    Cheers, Paul

    • Totally agree Paul. It's incredible what happens on the back of informal coffee chats. I remember doing the same with a colleague in the marketing team in an organisation I worked in. I must admit though, it was fancy a beer instead! Same principle though.

      We got chatting about stuff and what we were each working on. Marketing had a huge challenge in quickly rolling out a new point of sale ordering platform for a nationwide network of venues. Meanwhile, I was working on alternative delivery methods to face to face but struggling to get any buy-in to the idea of using digital to support learning.

      The project that followed after that informal chat absolutely smashed the roll-out of this new platform in a way that was timely, engaging and appealing to those attending, whilst allowing us to do what was needed in time and vastly under budget.

      'Fancy a *coffee...... What are you working on right now?' are great places to start.


      *Other drinks are available 

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