In the past months, I have presented you with the importance of using a weekly scoreboard to communicate with your employees and help them track their progress. One of the key factors to a successful meeting and effective communication is to present relevant information. This will keep the team interested and focused. Keeping information relevant starts with setting realistic goals. Going back to our football analogy, could you imagine how different the game would be if the players and coaches were not aware that the main goals were to score points and win games? If that were the case, then what would be the purpose of the scoreboard?
Same thing with your team members. Getting everyone on the same page and focus on the primary goal is a key part to the successful operation of your company. To do get everyone one the same page, we use two methods as a guide to assist you in opening the lines of communication and setting goals that are achievable. They are SWOT Reports and SMART Goals. This month we are going to cover the SWOT reports.
We use the SWOT report to solicit the input of your employees. This will give you a solid indication on where they feel the company currently stands and where it is headed. This can be an “eye-opening” experience for owners and employees as it is reveals whether or not everyone is focused on the primary goal. We the use that information to create action items and help set SMART Goals. (Specific, Measureable, Appropriate, Realistic, Time Frame). These two methods combined is what allows you to use your scoreboard realistically.
SWOT components are:
Strengths: characteristics of the business that give it an advantage over others such as great products, great leadership, strong employee base
Weaknesses: characteristics that place the team at a disadvantage relative to others such as limited financial resources
Opportunities: elements that the project could exploit to its advantage such as a finding a niche market in area of expertise
Threats: elements in the environment that could cause trouble for the business or project such as strong competition, or economic conditions
The SWOT report is best if completed by all of the employees and done so anonymously. Users of a SWOT analysis need to ask and answer questions that generate meaningful information for each category to make the analysis useable.
I believe that realistic goals are the foundation for building your annual budget or developing your annual forecast. SWOT analysis is just one method of categorizing. SWOT does have its own weaknesses. For example, it may tend to persuade its users to compile lists rather than to think about actual important factors in achieving objectives. It also presents the resulting lists uncritically and without clear prioritization so that, for example, weak opportunities may appear to balance strong threats. However, a SWOT report that is used correctly will provide meaningful feedback that can help you focus and grow your business, open the lines of communication and build confidence in your team by them knowing that their voice was heard. Then you can truly set SMART goals. What is that? Well, I can’t think of a better way to begin to close 2015, and open 2016 than to talk about that. So be sure to check back.