Hand out M4 HO4 Handout Number M4 HO4 Description SWOT Analysis – a guide Summary SWOT analysis looks at your strengths and weaknesses and the opportunities and threats you and your members face. By focusing on the key factors affecting your member’s interests, now and in the future, a SWOT analysis provides a clear basis for examining and planning how to deal with any issue that arises. This briefing outlines: • Typical strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and how to identify them. • How to use SWOT analysis to help you arrive at sound conclusions. 1. Self-Analysis Use SWOT analysis as part of a regular process of reviewing the situation. 1. Decide whom to involve. Key participants are likely to include trade union activists in the company and experts • from the union. Involving others will give a fuller picture and help to gain their commitment to any action plan you produce. Find out what the employees think using a simple survey / Questionnaire. Consider bringing in sympathetic outsiders e.g. experts who can provide information and • advice. • Many Union officials find an expert advisor most useful for their first SWOT analysis. 2. Brainstorm the issues. Ask everyone to identify any strengths or weaknesses they feel the topic / problem / challenge has and any opportunities or threats they think the trade union faces. Encourage participants to make suggestions without trying to judge how important the • issue is. • Concentrate especially on identifying weaknesses and threats. Be aware that lack of honesty is a common problem. • For example, most people find it easier to identify strengths and opportunities, particularly if the performance of key people (including yourself) is one of the weaknesses. • You may want to use checklists to prompt further suggestions Organise related ideas into groups. • Recording suggestions on Post-it notes or cards that can be moved around and rearranged makes this easy. 3. Evaluate the significance of the issues that have been identified. To help you, use relevant data from your own and similar organisations e.g. the trade unions senior officials, Uni-Europa, the ETUC etc. Update your conclusions from any previous SWOT analysis. • For example, strength may no longer exist (e.g. if last year's increase in economic activity and demands for workers may not now be the case). Assess whether your strengths (or weaknesses) give you and your members a significant • competitive advantage (or disadvantage). Do not be surprised if certain factors crop up as both strength and a weakness. 4. Create a simple, clear action plan. There is no point holding regular SWOT analyses if they do not result in action. Set out what will be done to address weaknesses, capitalise on opportunities and deal • with threats (see 6). This includes the steps to be taken, the people who will be involved, the timeframes and the resources. • Involve key colleagues in drawing up the action plan to get their commitment. 5. Keep the SWOT analysis and action plan to hand for review before important decisions. • 2. Strengths Your strengths are usually easy to identify, through your continuing dialogue with your members and the employers. For most Trade Unions, strengths will fall into four distinct categories. 1. Support and Resources Important factors might include: • Easy and quick access to senior trade union officials and experts. • Support from other members of your trade union • A strong and disciplined membership base in the workplace • A strong sense of trust amongst your membership. • Regular meetings with your trade union colleagues in the workplace 2. A strong and positive image may be the key to your success. For example, your trade union may enjoy: • A strong and dedicated membership. • A good reputation for achieving good conditions for your members. • An established high rate of trade union density. • A highly skilled membership whose expertise is in great demand. • A reputation for being able to deliver and agreements reached with the employer. • An experienced and well-known leadership. • Thorough support for local officials and members from the trade union’s head quarters. • A financially stable and well-organised trade union structure. 3. Trade union skills and organisation may provide equally important underpinnings for success. These may include factors such as: • Well-trained and confident leadership. • The ability to make quick decisions. • Skilled and experienced officials, successful recruitment and organisation record. • Good motivation and morale. • Efficient administration. 4. Strengths in the Unions organisational and administrative structure: • Modern and efficient communication facilities. • Easy and quick access to research data and experts. • A good ratio of full-time officials to members. Effective and speedy support to members in workplace from • Head Office officials and experts. 3. Weaknesses Your weaknesses are often known but ignored. A SWOT analysis should be the starting point for tackling underperformance in your organisation 1. Poor financial management may result in situations where: • Insufficient funds are available for supporting activities you need to undertake. • Low level of membership. • Poor communication 2. Lack of focus on your members key aspirations may lead to: • Unresponsive attitudes to your proposals. • A limited or outdated approach to solving problems. • Complacency and a failure to innovate. • Over-reliance on a few key activists. 3. Personal weaknesses are often hard to recognise, except with hindsight. Familiar examples are: • Failure to delegate and train successors. • Expertise and control locked up in a few key personnel. • Inability to take outside advice. • High handed and autocratic style of leadership. 4. Inefficient resources can undermine any trade union, however hard people work. Typical problems include: • Poor location, shabby premises and poor facilities. • Outdated equipment, high cost of servicing members and low subscription income. • Lack of access to research data, professional advice, few contacts with friendly experts. • Inefficient decision-making structure. 4. Opportunities External changes provide opportunities that efficient trade union officials can turn to their advantage. 1. Changes involving organisations and individuals, which directly affect your trade union, may open up completely new possibilities. For example: • Deterioration in an employers bargaining power. • Improved access to potential new members. • Increased services to existing members, or new recruits gained through them. The development of new communications systems with your members (e.g. the • Internet). • Improved response time when your members seek help, advice and general servicing. • The opportunity to recruit key employees in the organisation. • The introduction of new and more efficient decision making procedures. 2. The broader ‘external’ environment may shift in your favour. This may be caused by: Political, legislative or regulatory change. • For example, a change in legislation that requires employers to consult and inform their employees. Economic trends. • For example, falling interest rates reducing the cost of borrowing which in turn might be expected to stimulate the economy. Social developments. • For example, demographic changes or changing consumer requirements leading to an increase in demand for your products. New technology. • For example, new materials, processes and information technology, which you can exploit to the benefit of your trade union and its members. 5. Threats Threats can be minor or can have the potential to destroy the union. 1. Again, changes involving organisations and individuals that directly affect your trade union can have far-reaching effects. For example: • Growth of multi-nationals and unregulated influence of foreign investment. • Loss of a significant number of members Creeping over-reliance on one sector or a few large companies where membership was • strong in the past. • Failure of trade union to live up to its member’s aspirations. • Price rises whilst subscription income remains static. • Rising unemployment • Aggressive employers. • Unsympathetic government. A rent review threatening to increase costs of the trade union’s premises, or the expiry of • a lease. • Unsatisfactory outcome of a dispute with an employer 2. The broader business environment may alter to your disadvantage. This may be the result of: Political, legislative or regulatory change. • For example the election of a new government which is not a friend of the trade unions Economic trends. • For example, social dumping causing work to be moved to areas of Europe where labour is more productive. Social developments. • For example, consumer demands for ‘environmentally-friendly’ products. • New technology. For example, technology that makes your members skills obsolete. 6. Action The results of SWOT analysis – and the action needed – will be different for every situation. 1. Capitalise on opportunities that play to your strengths. Opportunities that match your strengths may prompt you to pursue a strategy of aggressive attack on poor working conditions etc. The SWOT analysis may also suggest other strategic options. For example: • Diversifying away from areas of significant threat to more promising opportunities. • Focusing on turning around weaknesses in areas of significant opportunity • Taking defensive measures in areas of threat where you are weak 2. Address your weaknesses. Decide which weaknesses need to be addressed as a priority. • Other weaknesses must be acknowledged and respected until time and resources allow a solution. • Some weaknesses can be turned into strengths or opportunities. Some weaknesses have a clear solution. • For example, financial weakness might be solved by raising subscriptions, recruiting new members etc. Some weaknesses will take time and money to address. • For example, you may need to start a programme of improvements through training, or quality management. 3. Protect yourself against threats. For example: • Build relationships with your members and employer. • Foster good employee relations. Ensure you have clear and reasonable contracts with senior officials, members and • employers. • Keep everyone informed and consulted on the situation. • Draw up realistic contingency plans to cope with potential crises. • .
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