Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Leadership PhD

First Advisor

Erich W. Baumgartner

Second Advisor

Duane M. Covrig

Third Advisor

William Austin


The purpose of this study was to examine perceptions of strengths-use at Hackettstown Regional Medical Center (HRMC), and common factors and conditions that enhanced and hindered strengths-utilization among middle managers at HRMC, a 111-bed acute care facility in Hackettstown, New Jersey. The study identified factors and conditions that can be expanded and improved upon to promote strengths-use at HRMC in the future. The population for this explorative study was selected from approximately 200 full-time executives, managers, and staff at HRMC who took the StrengthsFinder Profile from January 2007 through June 2009. The vehicle used for data collection was 5 focus groups comprised of 5 volunteers each. Participants were recruited and selected from the larger population of people at HRMC who had taken the Gallup organization‘s StrengthsFinder Profile (SFP). Focus groups were segmented by worker type: executives, clinical and non-clinical managers, and clinical and non-clinical staff. A Pilot Study comprised of a person from each work group was conducted to first test the appropriateness and usefulness of the focus group questions and format. In order to maintain confidentiality and minimize bias, independent facilitators were hired to conduct and audio-tape each 2-hour focus group session. In addition, a transcriptionist was assigned to transcribe those sessions and remove identifying labels such as a person‘s name or department from the data. Gene Milton, hospital President and CEO, organized and managed the data collection process, then completed the encoding and analysis of the data once it had been transcribed. Perceptions of the percentage of time that people were using strengths on the job, and factors and conditions that supported and hindered use, were determined from responses to the focus group questions. Much of the theoretical framework for this study was rooted in research studies on strengths-use, particularly that of: Buckingham and Clifton, Gebauer and Gorden, and Rath and Harter. Those studies focused on the individual‘s role in promoting his or her strengths in the workplace, and the importance of the manager‘s role in helping employees to identify and use their strengths at work. In addition, that research focused on people taking responsibility for pushing their personal strengths into an organization. This study went further and examined a range of factors and conditions, including leadership, at HRMC that enhanced or hindered managers‘ use of strengths on the job. Results indicated that while participants were knowledgeable about their own personal strengths-use at HRMC, they often equated strengths with their jobs skills and duties, rather than with natural talents or passions they bring to the workplace. In addition, participants were less conversant with their manager‘s strengths than with their own. On the whole, there did not appear to be an understanding of how strengths-use could contribute at the department level or organization-wide to employee engagement or productivity. HRMC‘s leadership did not appear to be encouraging strengths-use organization-wide, nor did they appear to grasp the importance of doing so. On the other hand, findings indicated that there is a foundation in place at HRMC for broader discussions and application of strengths-use at the individual, team, and organizational levels. This study lays the foundation for my future academic work of teaching and advising other hospital administrators on how to achieve the mission of providing quality and safe patient care to those whom they serve—by building upon the strengths of managers and staff who work in their healthcare organizations.

Subject Area

Hospital administrators--New Jersey--Hackettstown, Health services administrators--New Jersey--Hackettstown, Hospitals--Administration.