We have all have heard the SWOT acronym to assess the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats for any given situation, goal or plan of action. But when did you actually last do a SWOT analysis on yourself? We are at the start of a New Year so now would seem the perfect time to review your potential opportunities and assess any challenges you may have which will get in the way of effective goal setting.
A SWOT analysis is also a fantastic thing to do with your staff and/or your team heading into the New Year. Individuals and teams can gain a great deal from undertaking some self-awareness which can lead its way to self-management, the first two cornerstones of Emotional Intelligence.
So where do you start…… with Strengths of course.
Many of us can not clearly articulate our own strengths. A strength is defined as “an underlying quality that energises us, contributes to our personal growth and leads to peak performance” (Brewerton and Brook, 2006). In other words, if you are not energised by what you are doing it is unlikely you will reach peak performance.
Raising your self-awareness and recognising your own strengths can be a huge opportunity to increase your life and work satisfaction. Did you know that people who use their strengths daily are six times more likely to be engaged on the job according to research by Gallup and are also likely to experience less stress and anxiety.
In 2002, the Corporate Leadership Council did a study of over 90,000 employees across 135 organisations which concluded that reinforcing performance-enhancing factors can lead to better performance outcomes. They found that Managers who reinforce performance enhancing behaviours, increase employee engagement and promote stronger ties to work. They also discovered that the biggest factor that has the most negative impact on employee performance was focussing on employee weaknesses. When Performance Reviews put emphasis on performance strengths, employee performance increases by an average of 36.4%. But when Performance reviews put an emphasis on weaknesses, employee performance decreases by 26.8%.
Peter Drucker states “strengths are our true opportunities”
First of all, I would like to suggest that when you get to this stage of your SWOT analysis either for yourself or for your team, you change the focus from “weaknesses” to “Non Strengths”. I have a theory that there is in fact no such thing as a weakness, just opportunities for continuous improvement.
A Non-Strength is anything that does not energise us. In our life and at work, this can be many things that are parts of our everyday routine. However there are many ways we can look for opportunities to still implement our strengths to work with our non-strengths. For example, I am terrible at networking and socialising. Networking at a big corporate breakfast is my definition of hell on earth. However the way I have gotten around this is to tap into one of my top three Strengths, which is “Love of Learning”. When I am presented with a huge group of people, my goal is to change my focus from “networking” to meeting people with the goal of “what can I learn from you?” This approach makes me feel more confident, and more energised by the challenge.
So when assessing your “Non Strengths”, what are your opportunities for continuous improvement? Confident vulnerability sounds like a paradox, but it is actually the mindset that can bring about the greatest accomplishments. If you can hold your strengths in one hand and your non-strengths in the other hand, you can achieve amazing things.
Many dive straight into assessing opportunities before first clearly understanding their goal. Having a clear goal in mind for what it is that you are looking to achieve gives you the chance to clearly start unpacking how you are going to get there and what the opportunities are along the way. Otherwise, without a clear goal, you are just hoisting the sails in your boat without a rudder.
Consider what resources you have around you. Do you have a network of people or colleagues where you can tap into a skill base to get some good advice? How can you take advantage of any trends around you? Where are the opportunities to use your skills and strengths in your personal and working life?
Sometimes the goals we set ourselves can take us out of our comfort zone. What opportunities do we have to build our Mental Toughness to embrace challenges and raise our confidence levels even if we have to “fake it till we make it”?
And finally we can assess our threats. What is getting in the way of us achieving our goals? What are the obstacles getting in the way?
But it is not enough to simply be aware of the threats and obstacles, we then have to consider an action plan. What are we going to do about the threats?
When we consider our Mental Toughness we often ruminate and feel threatened by problems and issues that present themselves. One of my favourite questions when coaching is; “If you are going to spend time staring at the ceiling at night losing sleep, you might as well spend your time wisely. You can spend your time ruminating the problem, or you can spend your time ruminating the solution, which will be the most productive for you?
So if you want to start raising your self-awareness and increase your prospects for self-management? Give the simple SWOT analysis a go. Some may consider it a little out dated, but I think there are golden opportunities in its simplicity.
Michelle Bakjac is an experienced Organisational Consultant, Coach, Speaker and Facilitator. As Director of Bakjac Consulting, she is a member of the International Coach Federation (ICF) and a member of Mental Toughness Partners and an MTQ48 accredited Mental Toughness practitioner. Michelle assists individuals and organisations to develop their Mental Toughness to improve performance, behaviour and wellbeing. You can find her at www.bakjacconsulting.com or firstname.lastname@example.org