It’s Time to Look Beyond SWOT

It’s Time to Look Beyond SWOT


The arrival of Gen Y is changing organizational culture everywhere. Organizations realize that they are increasingly influenced by Gen Y opinions, as their numbers swell and Gen X is the maxing way. It is established beyond doubt that the work ethics of the Gen X and Gen Y are starkly different. The youngsters joining organizations today do not confuse between their professional and personal lives. They have lines clearly drawn, which help them achieve work-life balance. They have no idea of letting go of their passions, they focus on careers equally. On top of all these, today a whole spectrum of new career opportunities have emerged which combine the passion, talent, and aspirations of these young minds. A mid-level manager who loves telling stories can become a corporate storyteller and make much more than what he can in a traditional role.

This has thrown a new challenge to the talent management function of all organizations –how retain the top Gen Y talent with you? The modern employee may not want the organization to help him achieve his personal goals, but he surely expects the organization to enable him to achieve those. But how can this be possible in a mid-size or a large corporate? The answer lies in understanding the minds of these employees, professionally, personally as well as socially.

Today, managers use the Strength Weakness Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) framework to understand their team. But SWOT is an impersonal tool; applicable to countries, companies, teams, and also for people. Managers have to learn to personalize this template to understand the team better. To this effect, they have to include two more critical aspects to the SWOT – Aspirations, and Fears. Vineet Nair former CEO of HCL expresses the same thought when he talks about Employee First and Customers Second Philosophy. He says that the goals of the organizations should reflect the aspirations of the people.

It is critical that we understand what these two new sections mean, before adding them to our tool-kit. Aspirations are desires or goals that the individual would like to achieve. These transcend the project or the company and reflect what an employee wants to do at a personal level. Understanding aspirations will enable the manager to plan a better career path for his team. If a person wants to study further, can you grant him a sabbatical? If yes, you have retained a top talent with an enhanced skill set. Such possibilities are impossible unless one includes aspirations while understanding the team.

Fear, on the other hand, is a much deeper emotion. It is one’s reaction to the threat. As a manager, one should understand the fears of the employees and address it and help them achieve their Aspirations. Weaknesses and Fears are linked, Fears could stem from Weaknesses but they are not the same. While Weakness is a trait; fear is an emotion and hence exists at a deeper level.

An Enhanced SWOT could be called SWOTAF and might look like:

Enhancement of the SWOT framework to a SWOTAF framework is a not a mere addition of two more sections. It is a mindset change. It requires managers to inspire a greater level of trust from the team and establish an environment for open dialogue so that the manager can uncover the deeper currents in the employee’s mind. Now, the only unanswered question is ‘Are your managers trained to do this?’

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