Learning & Development

Tenants of a Successful CliftonStrengths Development Program on Campus

According to the Gallup Organization, the CliftonStrengths assessment is in use at over 600 college and universities with approximately 2 million codes used each year which values at a cost of over 20 million dollars annually. Higher Education is also one of the fastest growing area for strengths and that number of codes purchased continues to increase each year.

Given the above information, it is important for us to explore what might be the most important components of a Strengths Development program at a college campus. Based on my personal experience using the CliftonStrengths assessment over the past four years at UC Merced, I would recommend two major tenants of a quality program at your campus.

First, knowing the cost of the assessment per student, it would be unwise for a campus to invest in the CliftonStrengths assessment without building a long-term strengths development program for students. This program could be integrated into orientation, first-year seminars, and career planning throughout students’ entire time at the university. While self-understanding is important for students, the opportunity to use themes repeatedly can have a greater influence on their experience using the overall concepts of Strengths. Additionally, lack of support could potentially lead to self-doubt and the muting of themes, which would be the opposite of what the program sets out to accomplish. Investing in trained facilitators and coaches across campus could also increase the potential yield of the development program.

Second, Strengths Based Development programs should be both widespread and locally focused. By widespread I refer to the fact that the more people with Strengths language on campus, the more likely students will receive the support and guidance needed to continuously use their themes and reflect on those experiences. Strengths Based Development should not be limited merely to students. Staff and Faculty and possibly parents could engage in this program. This would allow for students to discuss their themes with anyone at any time, which would result in continual improvement.

By locally focused I assert that natural teams with a better understanding of their peer’s talent themes could influence greater agency, self-confidence, and thinking about multiple pathways to goals. In my office, I use CliftonStrengths as the major focus of team development. My staff have shared that their experience working on a strengths-focused work team was of great influence in their self-awareness and use of strengths, and did not lead to increased self-doubt. Replicating this type of environment in multiple areas of campus could influence students’ strengths development and their overall collegiate experience. This could be done in offices, student clubs, lab environments, and athletic teams.

If campuses wish to maximize their investment in the Strengths programming, it is important to go all in or it may not be worth it at all. If a Strengths program is implemented on campuses, a robust and long-term commitment would be needed to see sustained impact on the collegiate experience of students. Do this and you can see how the assessment and related development activities can make a lasting impact in the lives of members of your campus community.

For more information on ways to develop a CliftonStrengths program on your campus, contact me and we can chat!

Check out my Gallup Coaching Website: https://www.gallupstrengthscenter.com/Coach/en-US/Profile/5457444

Find the UC Merced Margo F. Souza Center at our Website


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