The concept of a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis is more normally associated with a business context. However, its use is equally valuable within the field of personal development, particularly when assessing how well we are performing in a particular job role, or assessing our ability to tackle a new project or task.
It is an integral part of the RESOLVE course and helps you establish the start point for your learning journey.
Our intent is usually to ensure we are being successful, by using our talents to their fullest extent. In addition, we will encounter fewer setbacks and problems if we can identify our weaknesses, and know how to manage these so that they do not impinge on our ability to complete the work we undertake. A SWOT analysis will help you establish your blind spots (see Johari Window), so that can prepare to manage these within difficult conversations.
A SWOT Analysis is a useful technique to help us go about identifying these strengths and weaknesses; as a consequence, we are then in the position to:
- make the most of the things we are good at,
- minimise situations where we might not succeed,
- make the most of opportunities available to us,
- make contingency plans to minimise threats.
There are many benefits and advantages of using SWOT Analysis for personal development, particularly within a teaching, training or managerial support context. In addition to underpinning your overall your success, some additional benefits are outlined below:
- Helps you to develop specific strategies to achieve your goals
- Enables you to assess your potential to reach your goals
- Provides a measure of where you are in relation to these goals
- Helps to better understand who you really are as a person
- Explores and also enhances your soft pastoral skills as well as the professional skills associated with teaching
- Helps you plan your career, life and personal development
- It helps you understand your preferences and personality traits
- Finally, it supports the development of your Johari window
Overall, the process of completing a SWOT helps you focuses on your values, abilities, skills, capabilities and capacities. What makes a SWOT particularly useful is that it can help you uncover opportunities that you would not otherwise have considered. In addition, by understanding your weaknesses, you can manage and eliminate threats that might otherwise prevent you from developing and moving forward.
Undertaking a SWOT analysis requires the same level of commitment require of the Johari window. Both serve different purposes, but at times share similar content: a commitment to personal honesty is a natural part of the process. When answering the key questions, consider them from both your own perspective, and from the point of view of your peers and colleagues.
The outcome of the analysis is particularly useful when discussing your progress and performance with your line manager. The concept of an annual appraisal is quite dated; regular performance reviews based upon a reflective feedback process utilising coaching and mentoring techniques, represents the approach taken by contemporary organisations. Undertaking and reviewing your SWOT analysis on a regular basis, will provide a firm, strong and current basis for any subsequent training courses and learning programmes that you decide to undertake.
The documents below represent the sort of questions you might ask yourself as preparation for a performance review or an interview.
SWOT Key Questions to ask:
|What do I do very well?
What do I do better than anyone else?
What do my friends or family see as my strengths?
What achievements am I most proud of?
What things have I succeeded at in the past?
What values underpin my beliefs that others fail to show?
What do I know a lot about?
When have I been positive?
What things have I successfully changed?
What enables me to be successful?
What sort of job or task do I know I can finish?
|What things do I find a challenge?
What do I usually avoid because of a lack of confidence?
What type of tasks do I struggle to finish?
What course or skill training would I benefit from?
What work habits do I have that are less than useful?
What frustrations me?
What annoys me?
What things stop me from being successful?
What do I know I need to change?
What do I wish I could do better?
What do I know gets in the way?
Which personality traits hold me back?
|What opportunities would make a real difference to my life?
How will my life change in the next few years?
What new technology could assist me
What would improve my chances of getting a job/or being promoted?
What do I know I can do, but I haven’t done yet?
Who could really help me?
Who could help me make progress?
What one small thing would make a difference to me?
Who in my network of contacts could offer me help and advice?
Could I create an opportunity by offering solutions to problems?
|What is a real problem to me at the moment?
What am I not doing that I know I should be doing?
What do I not know about?
Which of my peers is competing for aspects of my work or someone else’s attention?
What is stopping me from making progress?
What is a real threat to me?
What changes are likely to occur in the future?
Which of my weaknesses could become a threat?
What are other people doing that I am not?