Your Personal SWOT Analysis
As managers, we have the high honor and the responsibility to write and deliver annual Performance Reviews for our direct reports. I have always looked on that responsibility as the most important task of my work year. Basically, I am reviewing the total effort of my team members, summarizing it down to a few pages, and then conducting a 1-hour discussion to accomplish the following
- Summarize all activities
- Celebrate the great accomplishments
- Make teaching moments from the things that did not go as planned
- Constructively recommend areas for improvement
- Mentor for career advancement
It is a mind-numbing responsibility, but it is the most important hour of the year for them so it is important to me. Every manager can share stories of Performance Reviews that went well and some that went very south, very quickly. Most of the latter involve the scenario when you evaluate a marginal or not yet mature employee that firmly believes they are a superstar. It all comes down to perception. At one point in my career, I evaluated a self-proclaimed superstar as a low performer. I received a call from that team member’s mom, complaining about my obviously unfair assessment of their little pride and joy. Furthermore, I needed to adjust MY attitude. My response is not suitable for this forum.
Hopefully, we have become skilled at reviewing performance. Do you evaluate yourself? Do you sit and write out a formal evaluation of you each year? Your company’s Performance Review vehicle will not address every area. Maybe a good SWOT analysis is in order.
We have been using SWOT Analysis to evaluate products and services since the format was designed back in the 1960’s by Albert Humphrey from the Stanford Research Institute (I did not know that – but Google did). SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. You all know how to do these. But do you perform SWOTs on yourself? And not just the professional you. An honest look is needed at the personal you, the relationship you, the parent you, the child you, the sibling you, the faithful you, and the deep-down-inside-nobody-knows-but you. Let take a little quiz. Please lock yourself in a room and answer the following questions, on paper:
Strengths (Things I should keep doing and try to expand):
- What do I do well at work? At home? For my family? For my community? For myself?
- How do I care for my health?
- How do I pray?
- How do I introduce myself to strangers I want to impress?
- What do I want written on my tombstone, i.e.how do I want the world to remember me? (I had this question asked to me in an interview and we could not move forward until I answered.)
Weaknesses (Things that harm my career, relationships, and health. I need a plan to stop these things):
- In what areas of my life do I struggle the most?
- What does everyone else seem to do better than me?
- If I had to live my life over again, what would I change?
- What causes me to lose my temper?
- What traits do I find difficulty tolerating?
Opportunities (Outside resources at my disposal to help me. I need to engage with these resources):
- Who do I admire? Who do I want to emulate?
- Who do I know that is doing what I want to be doing?
- What training or assistance is available that I can use to improve my life?
- How much time do I spend watching TV that I could spend reading, exercising or improving?
- How many people do I know that would love to help me if I just ask?
Threats (Outside things that drag me down, accidentally or intentionally. I need to shut them down):
- What/who are the negative influences in my life?
- What situations cause me to stumble?
- What are the major distractions from me succeeding at work, at home, or in life?
- What causes me to spend time away from my family? My health? My faith?
- What resentment am I harboring in my head that I cannot purge?
These are just sample questions. I encourage you to write additional questions. Take an hour each year on your birthday and review your Personal SWOT Analysis as your birthday gift to yourself. You deserve it. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Here is a link to the Microsoft Template library’s SWOT Template in PowerPoint:
Just add your questions and answers. Be brutally honest; you can’t lie to yourself, anyway. No one will read this but your harshest critic.