The first component of the SWOT analysis is strengths. Strengths can be broken down into many categories, such as: human capital, physical capital, tangible and non-tangible items. These are positive skills or factors that can allow a company to stand apart from their competitors and create value within the company. This leads to a very important strength a company can have within each department; competitive advantage. Specifically within an HR department, competitive advantage can be made up of well developed recruiting or training programs, ethics, compensation procedures, strategic planning, and mission statements to name a few broad categories. Human resources would use the SWOT analysis to identify the strengths in the follow areas (Nestor-Harper, 2013):
· HR team members
· Policies and procedures
· Work environment, communication,
· Impact on the organization
Acknowledging the strengths allows the HR management to create a welcoming environment for the company, productivity can rise, and the satisfaction of the employees can remain high, thus reducing employee turnover rates. The more strengths discovered throughout a company, the more options they have to complete successful projects by shuffling employees through positions that highlight their personal strengths. In the end, managing the strengths can place a company on a more profitable platform.
A great example of a strength that occurs through the human resource department uses offshore outsourcing. Especially now that more companies are going international, outsourcing is a great way to begin expanding a business. The IT industry is commonly known for outsourcing globally, especially in areas of India. HR management can research the strengths a company can gain when outsourcing. Strengths that can occur through outsourcing may include (Nair, 2004):
· Low startup cost and wages
· Adequacy of IT infrastructure
· Higher quality of human resources
· Positive attitudes of the government
With India’s economy, success is due to the software industry and is drawing more companies to use them as an outsourcing location. The government is encouraging and supportive to the IT industry, which is a great strength with a company developing and striving for success. The people are knowledgeable, generate quality services and products, and certain areas of India like Kerala, receive lower incomes compared to employees in the U.S. (Nair 2004). For U.S. companies, its more cost efficient to outsource and still have educated and qualified employees. The HR management of a company needs to maintain good communication in order for outsourcing to continue to be a strength and have strategic planning in place for the company to remain ethical and legal in all locations of operations. With today’s constantly improving technology, HR can easily communicate around the globe to other operations of a company and effectively make quick adjustments to an area as it is needed.
Leadership within human resource can contribute largely to the success and the strength of the department. HR leaders need to know how to lead employees through change quickly and effectively (Walker and Reif, 1999). Based on collected information from HR leaders and managers the following capabilities are strengths leaders should have (Walker and Reif, 1999):
· Interacting with others
· Manages conflict
· Builds team effectiveness
· Organizes work
· Acts with integrity
All these capabilities will lead to strengths within human resources, as they are able to establish a core group of employees to work effectively on projects. Interacting with others is very important whether it’s communicating orally or in writing. Maintaining a high level of integrity in all aspects of a business is a positive strength to have, as it will reflect on your business’ mission and values. It will help a company develop a good image and allow customers to return, as they will feel the integrity upheld throughout a company. I have personally experienced great leadership at my current position. The HR leader constantly checks in with me to make sure I’m satisfied with my position and wanted to make sure there are not any conflicts. She also makes sure my position description and goals are organized and clear. This has become a very important factor since I have had jobs in the past where my position expectations were unclear.
While every company may have a variety of strengths, human resources tend to be held accountable for managing the strengths of the company properly. Once the SWOT analysis is performed, HR will discover the talents and skill of its HR team members (Visser, 2005). This will allow the company to place each employee in an appropriate area of the company in order to increase the performance overall and allow the employee to excel on a personal level. Employees sometimes have difficulty managing their own strengths; this is where HR can help out. The HR members can use training programs or group stimulation activities to assist the company’s employees on developing their strengths and placing them with other employees to offset weaknesses or to create a stronger bond within a group of employees in order to help productivity (Visser, 2005). HR departments need to use training at all levels, even leadership and management positions. By using training programs, employees can learn to develop their strengths, discover new ones, and use their strengths in different ways (Vissor, 2005). I have taken personality tests for human resource departments once I have been through an interview. The HR department is looking for the kills and talents they can use to strengthen their company while allowing myself to discover my personal strengths.
Take away points:
It can be evident that many people shy away from putting the spotlight on all their strengths, especially during interviews as a way to avoid sounding too confident. There is a chance that we have yet to discover certain strengths as well. Strengths are always being developed and may be used at different times or with different projects (Visser, 2005). The timing when we notice our strengths can constantly change because each project or new work environment may bring out different or new strengths. The HR department may create opportunities for employees to help practice using their strengths with other employees and discover how to mesh strengths of all the employees together in order to create a successful working staff and company overall. Sometimes as younger employees we find HR activities to be boring, but they always contain a purpose for HR to help shape us as employees and/or employers for the future. Also, strengths come in different sizes. With the outsourcing example, it is easy to notice the strength of having part of a company’s operations in other areas of the world because of the great benefits produced from it. On a daily basis we may over look the strength in this type of scenario because we are still working in the U.S., but, in reality, outsourcing can create a huge competitive advantage within an industry. The leadership example may seem obvious, but it’s the skills and capabilities leaders have that creates business leadership as a strength for a company. The respect between the leaders and their employees will be evident if leaders have the mentioned strengths. In return, the company will see teams with higher productivity and the lasting impression on the company.
Nair, K. G. K., & Prasad, P. N. (2004). Offshore outsourcing: A swot analysis of a state
in India. Information Systems Management, 21(3), 34-40.
Nestor-Harper, Mary. (2013). SWOT analysis for HR practices. Smallbusiness.com.
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Visser, Coert. (2005). Managing strengths in three steps. Managementsite.com 2013 September 27.
Walker, J. W., & Reif, W. E. (1999). Human resource leaders: Capability strengths and gaps. Human Resource Planning, 22(4), 21-32.