Whenever we see the word ‘SWOT’ we always think of an organisation. However, as the series on coaching shows us, human beings are complex and individual entities. The impact of one person can quickly turn into a movement and affect how organisations perform.
The notion of using a SWOT anaylsis to gauge the individual can seem clinical. However, unlike a personality test that aims to dive deep, or a standard training session that may not suit everyone’s needs, a SWOT analysis is the perfect starting point for continuous learning.
After all, if we don’t know what we can improve upon, how can the improvement ever come?
Also, because we talk about the individual, it can seem like the organisation has no role to play in this exercise, and therefore not benefit from it. On the contrary, we feel that companies are where people spend most of their waking hours. The behaviours and patterns in this context often represent the person quite fully. That’s even more of a reason for companies to be involved in the analysis- maybe even offer it across the board.
What is a personal SWOT analysis and how does it work? Let’s take a look.
The Need For Pre-Assessment in Learning
In recent times, we have had a host of companies requesting for pre-assessment to be offered as a program. Even a few years ago, training programs were often standardised, leaving a little bit of room for customisation based on the organisation’s needs. Today, though, we know that individual needs take centerstage and many companies now recognise this.
A training needs analysis helps set objectives for the learning that follows.
An individual SWOT analysis is one way to achieve this objective. By taking a clean look at the assessed person’s strengths and weaknesses, it is possible for the trainer to design a program that meets a majority of learning outcomes. Moreover, opportunities and threats as perceived by the individual help get a better sense of the constructs they operate within.
Interestingly, the traditional approach is to start with the S and W and end with the O and the T. Turn it around, we say!
As a team member, leader or business head, think first about what Opportunities you want to chase and what stands in your way. It opens up a world of possibilities and broadens the scope of learning you seek.
Sometimes, the results of such an assessment can be quite surprising!
For example, it is often assumed that middle and top management would not need a refresher on Communication. However, in our experience, we find that a SWOT analysis taking into account both the individual and the people who interact with them helps to bring out new needs that no one may have foreseen.
This is particularly important as businesses grow and cross geographical boundaries. We often repeat an anecdote in this context. At a renowned software development company, a Team Leader was applauded on a conference call for the work done up until that point. While the client, based in a different geography, was expecting a rush of emotion and a gushing, ‘thank you’, he was met instead with a polite acknowledge which he found underwhelming. As a result of that conversation and multiple similar ones, the company eventually lost the project.
Surprising, but true. In the context of business, it is often easy to forget that humans interact with humans, and effective communication is a basic need.
The Results Of A SWOT Analysis
The process of doing an individual SWOT analysis is beyond the scope of what we talk about today. Indeed, we highly recommend that such an exercise not be undertaken in isolation- a learning coach is the best person to conduct and derive results from such an exercise.
Much like a personality test, such an analysis needs to be conducted in a controlled setting, without external influence, to offer the most accurate results.
The results, however, can vary widely among people. This is why we approach the results a bit differently.
Usually, we match the strengths to opportunities to maximise their collective impact. Likewise, we look at weaknesses in relation to perceived threats. However, a better approach is to study all four aspects as extensions of the individual. Remember, all four attributes are only subjective, at the end of the day. They represent what the individual thinks about themselves and their circumstances.
However, these patterns of thought can be changed. For example, a threat can be the direct consequence of a specific weakness. Working on that weakness can alleviate the threat. However, a threat can also be neutralised with a complementing strength. For example, if an individual feels that the market around them is changing rapidly (threat) and they’re too old to keep up (weakness), but there is also a complementing strength (learning on-the-go), it is easy to neutralise the weakness and therefore the threat.
We believe that in the future, all SWOT tests will be looked at with a holistic lens. That’s why we have already begun.