At the Linscheid Library at East Central University, it all started with a mentoring program. In 2017, during a mentoring relationship with a new technical services librarian, Patrick Baumann and his mentee discussed the different personality types of their librarians and how, if different personalities joined together, it could really enhance the Library’s team.
“If we fit different personalities together, it could work better as a team. We could develop our team of librarians by figuring out what our personalities are and using that to work with each other and to discover things about ourself and the people we work with. This would help us to figure out who would fit best together for projects.”
Patrick teamed up with librarian Marla Lobley to take this idea to the next level. By the beginning of 2018, Marla and Patrick started their StrengthsFinder Project. Using Tom Rath’s 2007 StrengthsFinder 2.0 book as the basis for their project, Marla and Patrick went beyond the typical personality tests to actually uncover each individual’s top strengths. StrengthsFinder starts with 16 personalities and then gives you exercises for your top strengths as well as exercises for team-building.
Lastly, it focuses on the positive. You’re talking about your strengths and not your weaknesses. Because we all think about our weaknesses and what you’re not good at. This focuses on your strengths and positive things.
Once they had the project in place, they needed a tool to carry it out. Rather than relying on email, Marla remembered that their LibGuides CMS tool has internal Discussion Board functionality. So librarians could log in to a tool they’re already familiar and comfortable with, and know that this internal project would remain just that… internal and not visible to the public.
Their first LibGuides CMS Discussion Board thread was a calendar, a method for librarians to keep on track of the project.
Each librarian performed a strengths assessment, reported on their strengths, and then focused on their top-five strengths. Each librarian then created an action plan to focus/enhance those strengths and share their strengths with everyone else.
For sharing their strengths, and to get feedback, each librarian created a Discussion Post highlighting their top five strengths. Colleagues would then reply to each librarian’s thread with their personal feedback.
Our colleagues would reply to each thread and say, “I can see this strength in you such and such project. You use that strength, and I’ve seen it.” That gave us some positive feedback.
Having this as discussion board threads, it was easy to manage and navigate….especially when you have 23+ replies.
Additionally, the team made use of a neat Discussion Boards feature:
With each thread reply, you can mark things as helpful which is almost like ‘Liking’ in Facebook. Which is kinda cool. If someone replied with a comment that you liked, you can mark it as helpful. It made it fun in addition to useful.
Overall, Patrick and Marla consider the project a success. It focused on the positive, each librarian’s strengths, and it helped each person to better understand their coworkers. Plus, their library director found it helpful to learn about each of the librarians and how best to work with them.
In terms of using the LibGuides CMS Discussion Boards for this project, it went really smoothly. It’s pretty straight-forward. And it’s about how you can be creative in using a tool through Springshare. It was a worthwhile project, and I’m glad we did it. And the [LibGuides CMS] Discussion Boards really helped us to carry it through.
If you’re planning on doing a similar project, Patrick and Marla have some helpful suggestions from their lessons learned.
- If you’re planning on using a book as the basis for your project, be sure to get everyone copies of the book.
- Make a plan/calendar and keep on task.
- Remember, people go at their own pace, so remain flexible to give people time to process and schedule time for open discussions.
- Be prepared to give and receive honest feedback.
- Be up front with what you’re doing.
- And if you’re using LibGuides CMS Discussion Boards, remember to set notifications for each thread.
- Note: If you’re not getting notifications, check with your IT department about whitelisting LibGuides CMS emails.
Navigate to our Facebook Page to view Patrick’s 15 minute presentation from ALA-Midwinter 2019. You don’t need a Facebook account to access the video, but if you do – take a minute and Like our Facebook Page so you won’t miss cool content like this in the future (be sure to set your notifications for @springshare to ‘On’ so our posts show in your Facebook activity stream). Download Patrick’s slides from our ALA-Midwinter Recap Guide, and check out some of the other presenters to boot!