What Is StrengthsFinder?

The Strengths Committee

If you work at the Library or any other location represented by 2822, you have been introduced to the Clifton Strengths assessment, a personality test owned and promoted by Gallup, Inc –the famous creator of public opinion polls. The test creates a profile of the taker, in terms of 34 characteristics, called “strengths,” or “talent themes” by the administrator. Each strength has a name (and each name a trademark by Gallup), and is described in positive terms. The 34 “strengths” are ranked, in terms of… strongness. The top 5 especially define you, and you can use them as you like. Anyone can take the “Clifton Strengths” test online, and get their 5 top strengths, if they create an account with Gallup, and pay $19.99. If they pay $69.00, their entire list of 34 strengths will be revealed to them.

But wait, there’s more… if you are a Hennepin County employee, you can take the test for free! And you will. Or have. The Clifton StrengthsFinder was brought up as a “light” topic at 2822’s May 3 meeting. It was a large meeting. There were heavier topics (such as attacks on our union stewards, perhaps a reason for the big turnout), but there was a rally around the “Strengths” topic when one member asked the rest “How many of you have taken it?” and almost every hand went up.

The conversation started there. Many different experiences were related. For some, it was compulsory, and for others, it was voluntary. Some people found it amusing, and others found it personally invasive. Some people had the results of their “Clifton test” shared with their co-workers, and were not comfortable with that. Some people expressed the concern that it would be folded into their performance appraisals.

2822’s Library Meet and Confer team brought two essentials questions to Library Human Resources: “Is StrengthsFinder required of current staff?” and “Is it required of new employees?” They were surprised to discover that HR had no definitive answers. The Labor Relations rep found some policy statement that new hires were “encouraged” to take it. They thought that it was mandatory in some other County departments, but not the Library (counter to the experiences of many library staff). Especially they seemed genuinely surprised that some employees would have an issue with it.

Our sister local, 2864 also brought concerns about the StrengthsFinder to a meeting, and were told that it was not required, and results could be kept private and not shared at an individual’s work location. There is no evidence that this was ever communicated to employees, or how it will be in the future, but it is still good to hear from management.

If you have any concerns about the StrengthsFinder test and how it is being used in your workplace, please communicate them to a union rep. Thank you!