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How Do I Respond to Employee Concerns About SWOT Analysis?

Some ideas have been presented by management to help employees identify areas of essential skills. One idea is to have employees complete a SWOT analysis. But employees have expressed a range of concerns about SWOT, including: • Since I'm already doing more with less, when do I find time to complete the SWOT worksheet? • If I identify threats, how will I be perceived by management? • Since we have limited funds and can't give raises, how could we capitalize on opportunities that emerge from the analysis? • Will I be considered a narcissist by management if I list things I do well? • How do I list my strengths when I'm not even sure what they are? —Can't Swat These Worries Away, OD director, government, Panama City, Florida
June 19, 2013
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Related Topics: Employee Communication, Employee Engagement, Performance Appraisals, Dear Workforce, Talent Management
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Dear Can't Swat:

I love your question because you've hit on a bunch of reservations employees have about doing a SWOT analysis (that's shorthand for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats).

The very nature of a SWOT analysis assumes that employees can look at themselves objectively. That takes a fair amount of self-awareness. Then, if they are able to analyze their own strengths and weaknesses, sharing the assessment candidly with management takes some courage. That's a tall order.

So how do you respond to your employees' hesitations? Let me share how I would answer their top concerns:

  • Since I'm already doing more with less, when do I find time to complete the SWOT worksheet?

If you're having trouble figuring out how to juggle your tasks so you can fit in the SWOT analysis, are you having trouble juggling your tasks in general? This might imply that you have something to learn about managing your time more effectively. Or are you feeling unappreciated for doing all the work assigned to you? If so, you might benefit from being more assertive with your manager and asking for feedback on the work you perform.

  • If I identify threats, how will I be perceived by management?

Being open to learning on the job is one of the most respected characteristics of high performers. Having the guts to let your boss know where you could use some help is not a sign of weakness. If you're smart, you'll take on the challenge of growing and use the opportunity to strengthen the sense of trust you have with your manager.

  • Since we have limited funds and can't give raises, how could we capitalize on opportunities that emerge from the analysis?

Development opportunities don't have to be costly, and doing a SWOT analysis is not an exercise in justifying a raise. It is simply an opportunity to put your personal and professional growth into focus so you can continue getting the learning opportunities and support you need.

  • Will I be considered a narcissist by management if I list things I do well?

In a SWOT analysis, you are expected to list your strengths. If you have some skills or special capabilities that are not being utilized by your company, it's a perfect time to brag.

  • How do I list my strengths when I'm not even sure what they are?

One of the benefits of doing a SWOT analysis is to help people develop greater self-awareness. Take the time to look in the mirror and evaluate yourself critically. Then, even if you're pretty sure of your strengths and weaknesses, share your list with a trusted colleague and ask for some honest feedback. Have you overstated your strengths or your weaknesses? Have you missed some really important capabilities that would be useful to your company in the future?

A SWOT analysis is an opportunity for workers to engage in personal and professional development. As such, it may be one of the most valuable rewards your company can give to its employees. So encourage hesitant employees to take the plunge—when they look back at the exercise in a few years, I have a feeling they will regard it is one of the best things that happened to them at work.

SOURCE: Patsy Svare, managing director, the Chatfield Group, Northbrook, Illinois

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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 The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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