Task Analysis: Can you make this easier?

How do we know what to train or asses? If you are teaching a skill, a task analysis process is what you need. Skills are both people skills and hard skills such as soldering wires. People often say that teaching skills is both art and science. I agree with this. Knowing what to teach and assess is formulaic. If you use a formula, you can explain why you are teaching what you are teaching and assessing what you are assessing concretely.  

The formula I learned and still use today is frequency x difficulty x criticality. It is that simple. The form I use color codes the results for me as well. Blue means I must assess the task, green indicates a possible need to assess, and red is no need to assess. Let’s break down the tasks and ratings for a moment.  

Frequency x Difficulty x Criticality

a sure-fire formula for knowing what to train and access

Tasks are those individual actions you take to perform an objective. If a task does not align with an objective, then you shouldn’t be training or assessing that task. Alignment to an objective is critical. You and your team decide how granular a task is. I have always found that the granularity of the task tends to occur as you think through the process naturally. For example, if one objective is to solder a small gauge wire to a circuit board, you have to perform several tasks to meet that objective. The tasks for this can be the steps in the process. You then rate the steps. You can view an example in this task analysis. In the example, I only used four steps. The first step was green, meaning that we don’t have a significant need to assess that piece. The lower score is primarily due to the low difficulty level. The other steps have a higher criticality score, so they have higher scores.

The ratings are the key. You and your team have to determine what the three ratings mean for your industry. For example, in the aerospace industry, the ratings I use are:

1 = no action is required | 5 = causes downtime | 10 = possible air vehicle mishap 

As you can see, you need to define what the scales mean and how they apply to your industry. The way to come up with the definitions and rating weights is reasonably straightforward as well. Utilize subject matter experts. The experts can help you define the meaning of each of the criteria. This step allows you to gain perspective. Once you have the definition of the ratings, it is time to use the tool and see the results you get. You can make a copy of this sheet for your use if you like. 

For a deeper dive check out our task analysis course. Happy analyzing.

Task Analysis for the HR and Learning & Development Professional

100% Online. 100% Mobile Learn and practice the nuances of performing a task analysis. Know why you are assessing something. If you assess the wrong components for employee testing, you put your company at risk and run the risk of not hiring qualified people. This course is worth 1 PDC towards SHRM recertification.

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