The second component that makes up a SWOT analysis is the company’s weaknesses. Like the strengths component, weaknesses are the second internal factor magnified through the SWOT analysis. Weaknesses are the areas in the company that need attention for improvements. It’s important to focus on the organization’s weaknesses from the company’s viewpoint and from the customer’s point of view (Lee, 2000). By looking at a competitor’s strengths, a company will realize their weaknesses throughout the company and survey employees, asking where improvements need to be made. Although listing a company’s weaknesses is not ideal, once a list is compiled, the company will be able to tackle the weaknesses. By addressing weaknesses, the company can become more sufficient and more competitive in the market.
As mentioned in the “SWOT: Strengths” blog post, offshore outsourcing is becoming more popular. While there are many strengths to outsourcing around the world, weaknesses come with it as well. Using India outsourcing example, weaknesses that the human resources department may face include (Nair, 2004):
· Lack of proper service and maintenance by government departments and agencies
· Poor policy implementation
· Poor business image
The human resource department of the IT company needs to realize they have to adjust to the new government departments and agencies. For a new company outsourcing in the area, they need to create a plan for the company to adapt to new regulations. Services and maintenance may not be up to the company’s previous expectations. Adjusting or resistance to change is a common weakness human resources face around the world, but developing and implementing an adjustment plan will make the employees more comfortable and the company will find outsourcing more beneficial (Okpara, 2008). This also leads into the second weakness listed above; poor policy implementation. The level of involvement of the HR department with policy implementation will be evident if it is a weakness. The HR department needs to work close with the employees and make sure to survey the employees on improving policy implementation and give insight to which policies they feel need enhancements. They also need to keep in mind when the right time will be to implement policies. One survey revealed, companies lack policies for employees with AIDS and other health related concerns (Okpara, 2008). The employees felt the HR department failed to train employees on how to deal with health concerns or offer services to help employees cope with these health concerns.
The final bullet above, “Poor business image,” can be broken into two areas: image of a business location and the overall image of the company. While one may not find the image of a business location to affect the company’s HR department, if employees are being transferred to a new location then HR will have to be involved in the process. Whether the location is within the same state or in a new country, HR needs to look at the image of the company’s new location and consider how comfortable employees will be there. HR needs to be ready to deal with language barriers, culture shock, and living situations if the company offers assistance. It will be up to the HR department to find qualified employees to transfer to the new location or recruit nearby. The second part of “poor business image” is the overall image of the company, more specifically for this example, how ethical the company is being presented to the public eye (Okpara, 2008). A weakness may include the negative aspects of a company, which are more apparent in the spot light through media and other sources. HR needs to be able to deal with the negativity and develop methods to distract or eliminate any unethical or negative publicity the company faces. This may be done through lining up an article highlighting the positive impact the company is making to the community or providing ways the company has changed from its past ways. Either way, HR wants to preserve the company’s image in a positive way.
Once the weaknesses of the company are recognized, the next step for the human resource department is to develop a plan on how to manage the weaknesses. This is then followed by executing that plan. One way to manage a weakness is to develop a plan to improve it, whether it is a major change or a slight adjustment (Visser, 2005). This will create a positive out of a negative and be very beneficial in the future. For example, if an employee has weak telephone communication skills, the HR department can create a training session to improve his skills or find a new employee for that position and move the current employee to a better-suited position. If a company’s weakness is its more recent quarterly sales, they can further investigate areas that can improve sales. HR management can then create workshop programs and procedures to increase the skills and talents in that area to help the company. With that, it is important to realize human resource’s goals aligning with the company’s goals may not match up, causing a huge weakness to be apparent (Okpara, 2008). Through the SWOT analysis process, HR should meet regularly with executives and managers to address the goals of the company and each department to make help transform weaknesses into strengths that support everyone’s goals and improve the company overall.
Take away points:
The SWOT analysis gives companies the opportunity to pin point, improve, and transform weaknesses to positives. If a company dwells on the negatives then there is no way to move up from them. It could be beneficial to see how the company’s competitors see their strengths as a way to discover their own weaknesses. That being said, the HR department has the opportunity to run, analyze, and make adjustments to a company’s SWOT analysis. Routinely running a SWOT analysis will allow the HR department to see how changes throughout the company are being made and make adjustments for areas that are not being as sufficient as necessary. How to manage the company’s weaknesses falls onto the HR department as well. It is up to them to develop the necessary tools to eliminate the weaknesses. When looking at particular employee weaknesses, HR can pair employees who will balance one another or place the employee in a training program to help strengthen their skills. For a larger weakness that effects more of the company than just one individual, HR needs to create a series of steps that will not overwhelm the company all at once with the change. Lastly, it is important to realize the human resources goals aligning with the company’s goals may not match up, causing a huge weakness to be apparent (Okpara, 2008). Through the SWOT analysis process, HR should meet regularly with executives and managers to address the goals of the company and each department to help transforms weaknesses into strengths that support everyone’s goals.
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