Meraki Consulting Partner

What the SWOT?!

What the SWOT?!

A Deep-dive Into SWOT Analysis - for People

As we find ourselves in Q4, destined for the myriad of year end meetings, discussions, and analyses of metrics and economic indicators, have you set aside time to dig into and gauge how you are doing on the often-overlooked people side of things? 

Not the “check the box” number of positions we have or will have and the people we need or will need or the cost of labor…no, not the typical human capital costs and projections. Not even the typical SWOT analysis of general business operations introduced to the world of work by four guys in suits during the 60’s. 

Personally, I’m a huge fan of SWOT. I have used it in my daily life and journaling practice to ascertain what’s working well versus what’s not working at all, what changes are possible, the likelihood of success, what is my blind spot…the list is long. 

I’m asking you to stretch. To take a tool that is simple and elegant in design and application. And leverage it to build an organization that shines brightly in a world being pulled into the dark. 

For those who have yet to incorporate SWOT analysis into your daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly business practices and may be a bit rusty on which questions to ask, just Google it and pick your favorite open source template and get to work. Invite your teams to participate and share feedback openly, create a file, poster, infographic, or slack channel to keep it updated and have fun with it. 

For those who are veterans in the SWOT analysis world and have even created your own SOP and IP around it, take a moment to celebrate. Now, ask everyone what’s missing. Then, grab your org chart and a comfy chair so we can really have some fun with this. 

For the sake of time, I will give you the nets and bolts version here. If you care to take a deeper dive, feel free to reach out to me. 

Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats Defined

Strengths: A person’s natural gifts and innate abilities that are easily tapped into and require minimal energy/inputs to grow. Examples include big-picture thinking and innovation, process development, people skills and diplomacy, persuasion, and influence. 

Weaknesses: one’s Achilles heel; the shadow self (what we observe when one is in distress); skills & abilities that are lacking or underdeveloped and would require significant time and energy to enhance to a modest level. Examples include asking an extremely shy person who is task-oriented to present people-oriented best practices to a large audience of extraverts; or, conversely asking those who thrive on connection and collaboration to sit quietly in a cubicle and figure it out alone. 

Opportunities: areas of growth and development that intersect with one’s burning desire to expand…think: If I do X very well and Y moderately well, then improving Y and combining it with X is my killer combo. Exponential growth. [possibly insert a graphic here] How can I capitalize on my working genius and how does it align with the work I am currently doing or plan to do in the near future?

Threats: internal and external are taken into consideration here. Internally, where is each individual on the health and well-being scale? Physically? Psychologically? Spiritually? Are they fulfilled and pursuing meaningful lives that balance work and play? Externally, is their environment psychologically safe? Have we built a culture that is inclusive and makes them feel valued? What is their socioeconomic status and basic demographic data telling us? How can each individual be better supported? Will our high potentials be poached by another organization that better meets their needs? 

Getting Started with SWOT

  1. Capture the data: Record every role in the company, the minimum qualifications for the role, the type of role or category or class in which it falls, the ideal KSAO’s for success in the role, feedback from those who excel in the role (current/previous), the current person who fills the role, the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to that person in relation to the demands of the role and competition (this is where it gets dicey and most people need support and guidance), personnel data relevant to the person in the role that encompasses the head, the heart, and the briefcase (if you’re not familiar with that reference we need to have a quick call so I can get you up to speed). Utilize information found on résumés, behavioral assessments, cognitive assessments, educational endeavors, work experience, observations, self-assessments, 360-assessments, and basic demographics available through governmental agencies.
  2. Organize the data: This can be a simple spreadsheet, a large pdf, or several small files, it can be advanced and have pivot tables, pie charts, and embedded links to password-protected or encrypted files. Just remember to keep personal data safe, have a transparent policy that is communicated effectively, and use the data for empowering your people to do their best work in accordance with their strengths.
  3. Leverage the data: Co-create a roadmap to develop the strengths of the individual and allow them to master those areas along with other areas of interest.  This happens in 1:1’s, 30-60-90’s, quarterly reviews, coaching sessions, annual reviews, and the like. Whatever behavioral assessments are used, job targets, personal development and mapping, lists of skills, desired outcomes from trainings, or any other data collected to align a person with a specific role in a certain department working with a carefully selected team towards a known finish line…needs to be in the hands of all the relevant stakeholders in those meetings. This will ensure a level playing field and allow for trust to be built upon transparency with the ultimate goal of co-creating a work experience worth trading 40 (or more) hours of your life for every week. Ensure that policies and practices are in place to protect your people from the burnout caused by overextending them to make up for lack in others on the team. No one likes to be punished by more work or taking on the most difficult clients because they have the skills to handle it. 

Rinse and Repeat. Every 1:1, quarterly review, or annual review is an opportunity to engage with your people and discuss where they are and where they want to be. Listen to them. Take action!

“Whew! Nicole, that’s a lot of data to gather and consider. I’m not sure I know where to begin or what questions I should ask for each category.”  – we have you covered with this free starter worksheet.

Over the years, I have noticed that the organizations pursuing and building a coaching culture naturally embrace and excel at this process. They also enjoy phenomenal results…investing in your people really does lead to better business outcomes! 

And now, my question to you…What are you going to do for your people?

We’re here when you’re ready! Let’s Talk!

Free Resources For Your Business!

SWOT Template