Employee appraisals are generally considered to be valuable to a business, right? On an annual, bi-annual or quarterly basis, a team member takes time out of their day to day operational work to think about their strengths, weaknesses, what's gone well and not so well and so forth. The communication between the team member and their senior (and sometimes peers) when done well is really helpful in ensuring that an employee knows that they are valued and where they can focus their efforts to be even better.
But how does a Founder, who sometimes is a sole person in the business, get the same benefit that an effective appraisal system delivers? I want to share something that I do personally each year in the down time between Christmas and New Year.
A swot analysis is a business tool that has been around for a really long time and stands for Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats. It should be used succinctly. No great journaling is required and can be applied to the business or it can be applied, as I do, to myself as a business leader. I really like it because it's super simple, doesn't take long and when I look back and reflect on previous years analysis, I can see how much progress I made or witness how things that seemed important back then are no longer important and worth pursuing. That in itself is a great leveller.
So mine this year might look something like this...
This time last year, my website wasn't completed, I was still developing the branding and the business was a year younger. Look how far I've come! (Cue self praise but who cares. These were real struggles last year and if I don't acknowledge it then who will?!) I almost never showed my face on social media and had to take a deep breath and silence the critic inside me before I posted literally anything. Now I follow Helen Perry's cue and #justbloodypostit
Once I've done this, I leave it there. The down time between Christmas and New Year, for me, is for family and to relax. It gets stuff out of my head and onto paper. I take time to congratulate myself on things that have gone well and especially the weakness that I have turned into strengths, or the threats that I have made disappear. The opportunities are there for me to explore, the threats can be mitigated with good risk assessment later on but for now, it's time to take a step back from the business, pour a glass of wine and enjoy some proper business down time.