When you hear the term SWOT Analysis, you probably reflect back to a business course you took in college or to the general acceptance of a SWOT Analysis as a tool for analyzing and planning for a business. It is a widely used tool that helps identify an organization’s internal strengths and weaknesses, followed by external opportunities and threats. This week, we took a slightly different spin on the SWOT Analysis and we had each of our team members complete her own personal SWOT Analysis. Then, we came together as a team to debrief and discuss each others’ responses. Here are some of the things we learned!
A major takeaway was that our team members realized that they had more strengths than they had initially written down. When hearing what others were saying about themselves, it reminded them that they, too, had that strength or a similar one. We each underestimated the different types of strengths we really did have; we needed to push ourselves to think more critically about ourselves, and realize that we had more strong qualities than we thought!
On top of that, we saw a surprising correlation between our strengths and our weaknesses. We noticed how most of them fit together and were very much the same basic attribute, just at different ends of the spectrum. For example, having high urgency but also being impatient, being personable but also distractible, or being empathetic but lacking assertiveness.
In terms of our weaknesses, as a member of the team would discuss their awareness of their individual weaknesses, it would help us all to be able to point out that specific blind spot. With that, we found the areas where we could most support that teammate and encourage growth beyond those weaknesses. It created a positive twist on our supposed weaknesses; being able to identify and share them allowed for the whole team to be aware, and help us tackle them in the future!
We also were able to identify that, very often, one person’s strength may be another’s weakness. For example, while one team member may view their attention to detail as a strength, another may come at it from an opposite viewpoint, feeling like they pay too much attention to detail. It highlighted how unique our perspectives were, and how our views on our skills can vary depending on how we look at them.
While these exercises are stimulating and insightful in the moment, the most important part of them is how you take action on what you learn. So what’s next? For us, each team member has picked one weakness she would most like help with and our team has committed to helping her develop beyond it. Our goal is to build a culture where people never feel the need to hide a weakness but instead, put it on the table as something to work on. The second action item for us is to create a “Wall of Strengths” showcasing each team member’s strengths. Our aim is to consistently consider “What is needed for the task at hand?” and “Who has the best strength for this?” By doing this, we hope to inspire collaboration, learn from one another and maximize the impact of our team as a whole.
Last but not least, we want to know, what’s your Personal SWOT Analysis story? Are there additional take-aways you can suggest?