How to conduct a personal SWOT analysis
You will likely have heard of this analysis tool, but had you ever considered how it can be useful to assess yourself using it? As individuals that are starting to climb the corporate ladder, it is important to be self-aware so that you are able to identify areas for development. Individuals that prefer to keep their heads buried firmly in the sand will miss out on the opportunity to work on any weaknesses, but it is not all about making improvements as we will explore.
Swot analysis: Strengths
The first thing to understand is that knowing your strengths helps to focus your efforts more and can benefit you in a number of ways. You can do more of the things that you do well, become an expert and coach others, you might even choose to pursue becoming a specialist. You can take a lead role aligned to your strengths when involved in a project or other type of teamwork and you can raise your profile by demonstrating how you can excel at certain things.
Take some time to fully understand what areas of your work that you do well and consider why this is. It might be that you enjoy them more, or maybe they are things you have been doing for a very long time. Maybe it is just that you have been fully trained so have enhanced knowledge. Once you have created your list, review this and assess if this is what you want to be known for. Have you got stuck in your comfort zone and need to push yourself more? Seeing it on the page might lead to some surprising realisations!
Swot analysis: Weaknesses
We are asked to assess our weaknesses all the time, and if we don’t do it others will! You have probably got a fair idea about the things you are not very good at doing and why that might be. It isn’t always down to preference or choice, sometimes it can be down to genuine capability. We are all different and what one person finds easy might be incredibly difficult for somebody else. When you are aware of your weaknesses, it is important not to hide from them and hope nobody will notice; they will! And anyway, if you do not confront your weaknesses, you will never own the responsibility to make any necessary improvements.
Weaknesses are not all bad either. It is not important to be good at everything – but understanding what you are not good at means that you can either make the necessary improvements or make sure other people in your team are there to step in and do those things.
Swot analysis: Opportunities
This is about exploring what is going on around you and how you can create opportunities to become involved in things that will help you to develop and to raise your profile. It is not enough to learn new knowledge; people need to be able to put into practice what they learn so that they can embed it in new ways of working.
There will be opportunities to do formal learning but don’t forget the less formal things such as being coached by somebody that has more experience or learning on the job and refining your skills that way. Other ways to get involved and expand your horizons might be to see if you can go on secondment into another department or ask to be put into a project team so that you can get exposure to new people, and business disciplines and learn new ways of working.
Swot analysis: Threats
This is not about what might cause you to lose your job or anything that drastic! This is about understanding some of the barriers or challenges that you might face when it comes to being able to develop yourself. If you are banking on getting a promotion, who or what is standing in your way? How can you overcome this so that the threat is mitigated? If you are very keen to be able to secure funding for a qualification, how can you convince the budget head that there will be a return on investment?
There are many things that will get in your way but rather than being a defeatist, think through ways to overcome them and consider how you can perhaps turn threats into opportunities.
How to analyse yourself
To conduct a SWOT analysis you might find it very helpful to seek feedback from other people around you. Other people’s perceptions of you will give you important insight as you might be completely unaware of some things, or you might overlook something that is unimportant.
Some questions you can ask yourself:
What recent successes have your achieved?
What resources do you have / not have?
What do other people see in you?
What feedback have you received recently?
What do you enjoy or dislike?
What do you find most difficult?
Are you jealous of what somebody does?
Was there a time that you felt completely out of your depth?
Consider personal traits as well as your performance:
Time management skills
Ability to show empathy when you need to
Ability to learn and apply what you learn
Ability to communicate effectively
Charisma – the ability to inspire others
When you are satisfied that you have considered each of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, it is important to then take action. Plan what you will do and speak to your Manager to see what support you can receive to get yourself where you want to be. But don’t expect too much all at once, your personal SWOT should lead to a personal development strategy that has short, medium and long terms goals that give you something to work towards.