At the start of the pandemic, I was working long-term with a department of around 40 people. My focus was assisting them in team building for the entire department and a leadership program for their managers and supervisors. Due to the pandemic, we had to incorporate topics such as strengthening effective virtual communication & sustaining resilience within our exercises and strategy.
One of the team-building exercises we did about eight months into the pandemic was a SWOT Analysis of the department at that point in time. This allowed them to consider the changes to their organization, clients, and work environment due to the pandemic. This was not only a very interactive exercise that everyone could participate in but it also helped them think through potential strategic changes.
What is SWOT?
Mindtools defines SWOT Analysis as:
“a simple tool that can help you to analyze what your company does best right now, and to devise a successful strategy for the future.”
This is done by analyzing the following about your organization.
Strengths: what you do really well
Weaknesses: what needs improvement
Opportunities: where you could continue to grow and succeed
Threats: what could cause you setbacks
For this client we had three different groups analyze the SWOT of the organization at that point in time. The first group was the managers and supervisors, then the employees, and finally the two leaders of the department. We then spent time discussing the analysis from each group’s perspective and were able to settle on one agreed-upon list for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. From there the information was used to determine what areas needed to be focused on.
Why SWOT Yourself?
Although SWOT analysis is traditionally used by organizations to determine their strategic direction, it’s a good idea to take an inventory of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats for your own life as well. This can be a tool that can help you maximize your strengths, minimize your weaknesses, take advantage of your opportunities and reduce the threats to your professional career.
This can help you build your strategy for personal success.
Self-awareness of your own strengths and weaknesses is a key component of emotional intelligence. Reviewing your strengths and weaknesses can be beneficial, especially as you are considering how to strengthen your success skills.
An example of a strength and weakness you could identify could be:
It’s a strength that I can manage my time effectively even when I’m working from home.
It’s a weakness that I get nervous when I need to speak in front of a group (even if it’s just via zoom).
Considering the opportunities and threats facing you also can be ideal when thinking about your personal strategy. Many of us have faced changes brought about by the pandemic. What potential opportunities exist in your life today? What threats are you facing?
An example of an opportunity and threat could be:
There is an opportunity for me to take on more responsibility at work.
There is a threat that my new manager could have a very different working style than me.
Other SWOT Perspectives
Just as we had the different teams working separately to contribute to the SWOT analysis, you may want to ask others to consider your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This could be a manager, co-worker, spouse, or friend. Someone else might provide you with insight that you haven’t thought of or they may confirm what you’ve already identified. Understanding how people view your strengths & weaknesses could give you additional insight as to what may or may not need improvement. Constructive feedback, in this case, is encouraged.
Use Your SWOT
Once you’ve got your list of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats you can use that information to help you create your own strategic plan. You can do this by asking yourself some key questions:
Have I identified strengths that I’m not fully utilizing?
Which weaknesses should I be trying to strengthen?
What actions can I take to ensure I take full advantage of opportunities?
How can I be proactive to minimize the threats?
* Actionable Success Steps
Use these Actionable Success Steps to conduct your own SWOT analysis.
1. Read more about SWOT Analysis on the Mindtools website.
SWOT Analysis: Understanding Your Business, Informing Your Strategy
2. Make a list of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats as of today.
3. Ask at least two other people to list your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats as of today.
4. Create a strategy to maximize your strengths, minimize your weaknesses, take advantage of your opportunities and reduce the threats to your professional career.
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