To maximise the value of using Aspire it is important to set up the assessment carefully. There are key aspects to consider, which are detailed on this page:
- Introducing Aspire to your organisation
- Choosing participants
- Briefing participants
- The reports
- Guidance on registration
- Completing the questionnaires
1 Introducing Aspire to your organisation
It is vitally important that you position Aspire appropriately in your organisation. How, when, and to whom, will you communicate:
- Why you have decided to use Aspire
- Who at each level in the organisation will be told about the results
- What benefits you expect Aspire to have for your organisation
- Managing expectations of what may change in the organisation following the assessment
- How you plan to use the Aspire reports afterwards
You may feel you need professional help to work through these and other crucial contextual issues. Your Aspire Adviser could help with these.
When you have purchased Aspire, please to arrange contact with your Aspire Adviser and decide how you would like to use the advisers time that is allocated for you.
2 Choosing Participants
(a) groups of staff
Questionnaires should be completed by representatives of each group of people listed under the following five headings, or the nearest equivalent in your organisation or Church. In general, the more people who complete the questionnaire, the more valid and useful your results will be.
In addition to the people who actually complete the questionnaires, we strongly recommend that your organisation sets up a project team or steering committee to work on introducing the process, interpreting the results, and then designing and implementing your action plan for making improvements in the organisation as a result of Aspire.
You will need to appoint a co-ordinator for the project who will ensure the process is completed by all concerned, and that the feedback and results are interpreted effectively with follow up action if required. You have probably already been chosen for this role, if you are reading these notes!
These are the people on 'the Senior Management Team'. In a church this may be a minister, pastor or member of the clergy. In some organisations the most appropriate people may be actively involved trustees . A representative number, but preferably all, of the senior leaders in the organisation should complete the Leaders questionnaire.
A representative number, but preferably all of the trustees who have a reasonable awareness of the organisation, should complete the trustees' questionnaire.
The Human Resources lead person:
This will be the person 'officially' responsible for HR issues or the leader who normally deals with people-related matters. In small organisations the 'leader' and HR lead may be one and the same person. We refer to this person as either the "HR Leader" (whose main role is HR) or "senior leader (with HR responsibility)". If you have an HR leader, then just use this category, as a senior leader with HR responsibility will have a lot more questions to answer!
If you are a large organisation with more than one senior HR professional, you may wish to invite them both/all to complete the questionnaire.
These are team leaders or ministry leaders, who are responsible for other staff and whose role is mainly implementing or operational, rather than strategic or decision-making. If your organisation does not have any 'middle' managers, then choose people whose role involves a high level of people management. We refer to these people as "managers/team leaders".
Your Staff team:
These are the rest of your people! We have referred to them by the term "staff", but in some organisations they will include volunteers and other key people involved in / with the organisation and who have a good understanding of at least some of the issues covered in Aspire, even if you don't view them as "staff".
If you are a medium to large organisation, you may want to split your staff into two groups, eg. back office and frontline using the two staff role types. However we only recommend this if you have at least 15 participants in each staff role type category.
These are all the people in contact with your organisation who have a good understanding of at least some of the issues covered in Aspire. These external stakeholders are not trustees, leaders, employees or volunteers. They may include, for example: supporters, donors, suppliers, customers, partners, advisers, consultants. In a church they may include members of the congregation, supported missionaries... If you have a 'council of reference', you may wish to include them.
If you have two very different groups of external people ( eg. partners and customers), where you would like to measure their perceptions separately, then there are two external role types you can use. As for all role types, the greater number of participants the more accurate the results will be as a reflection of people's perceptions of your organisation.
Having selected your participants, put them into each of the role type categories, so they can select the appropriate questionnaire type when they register. These role types are:
- Senior Leader
- Senior leader (with HR responsibility)
- HR leader
- Board Member
- Manager / team leader
- External people
(b) how to define a representative sample from each group
As above, the more people who complete the questionnaire, the more valid and useful your results will be. However, if you need to choose a representative sample from each of the above categories, there are a number of other factors you should consider, in order to involve a varied cross-section of the organisation. You should choose people with a variety of:
- lengths of time in the organisation
- gender / ethnic origin / age / disability
- beliefs / attitudes to the Christian faith (if not all your staff are Christians)
- roles - type and hours
- optimistic/pessimistic outlooks
- from different teams / locations
However, you should avoid choosing people who:
- are very new to the organisation, as they have a limited experience of the organisation
- have roles that have little exposure to the day-to-day workings of the organisation.
We have included a table below of the suggested total percentage of people who should complete the assessment. This is only a guide as each organisation needs to decide on the feasibility issues involved. For the assessment to be most effective we suggest the more diverse or complex the organisation is, or the number of organisational issues that are apparent, the higher the percentage should be. If the organisation is more uniform, with strong central processes and you already gather significant internal data, then you may feel that the percentage can be lower. Note: Where the assessment mentions "people" it refers to all of the role type categories mentioned above.
We recommend that a minimum of 30 staff should complete the assessment. If your organisation is smaller than 30, then having everyone participating will give the most valid and useful results. Even in large organisations, if everyone takes part you will achieve more statistically valid results. You should therefore regard the percentages in the table below as the absolute minimum:
|Number of staff||Suggested % to complete assessment|
|5 - 20||100%|
|21 - 50||60 - 100%|
|51 - 100||30 - 60%|
|101 - 150||20 - 30%|
|151 - 1000||5 - 20%|
The number of leaders and managers completing the assessment should be proportional to the organisation as a whole. The table shows, for example, that an organisation of 100 people should have 30 - 60% completing the assessment, including 30 - 60% of its leaders and managers. Only one HR lead is required whatever the size of the organisation.
It is important to understand that the validity of your results will be reduced if you involve less than the recommended minimum %, or miss out a category altogether.
Some umbrella or larger multi-site organisations may wish to analyse their results by organisation, site or geographical location. This will require the organisation to register each separately as a "small" organisation, taking account of just the people located at that site and not the whole organisation.
3 Briefing Participants
Wherever possible, bearing in mind the complexities of Aspire and the importance for the organisation of getting high quality data from it, you should conduct a personal briefing with participants. This could be done with groups of participants together. Some topics that this briefing could cover include:
- Why the organisation regards Aspire as important
- Look at sample questions, discuss how to answer - when does 'Strongly Agree' apply
- Explain who 'Leaders' refers to within the questions - in the context of their own organisation
- Don't spend ages pondering over every question; go through the questionnaire as quickly as possible, giving your immediate response to each question
- The importance of being honest
- The questions are asking if something is actually happening - not whether the organisation has a policy that it should, or the individual thinks it should
- Further guidance as in Section 5 below
- Reassure participants regarding confidentiality
A face to face briefing will always be preferable, but may not always be possible. If this is the case, you may want to paste the following into an email that you send to each of the participants:
A Sample Introductory Letter
As you may have heard, we are currently reviewing the way we work as an organisation and in particular looking at our Christian Distinctiveness. In order to help us do this, we are asking a number of our people to complete an on-line assessment, stating honestly how they feel we are doing as an organisation. The assessment is called "ASPIRE" and the questionnaire should not take more than 20 - 30 minutes to complete. For best results, you should find a time when you have access to a computer and can complete it in one sitting. If this is not possible, you will need to make a note of the participant ID you are allocated when you start the questionnaire, then go to Resume questionnaire on the Enter Aspire menu to restart the questionnaire from where you left off. You will find further guidelines when you log onto the website and you can also find out more background on ASPIRE at xxxxxxxxxx
In order to complete the assessment, you will need the following information:
- Our organisation's ID: (insert ID)
- Your participant's password: (insert password)
- Your questionnaire Type - for registering (insert role type)
We would like you to complete the assessment as soon as possible, but certainly by (insert date)
When the report has been compiled we will be letting the whole organisation know the outcome and our plans to grow even more spiritually passionate, organisationally excellent and distinctively Christian. Thank you for your help. We appreciate your time, thoughts and honesty. If you have any questions, either concerning the assessment or our reasons for taking on this project, please do ask me.
(Title), ASPIRE Assessment Co-ordinator
Even if you are briefing your people, a letter like this will be needed to ensure everyone has the details they will need. Following the initial briefing, please continue to support and encourage participants as they go through the process, checking their understanding, as they play their part in helping your organisation to aspire to excellence.
This is an important issue because we have sought to achieve the right balance between requesting information about respondents (to indicate that a good range of participants have been involved), and protecting individuals' anonymity.
At a broader level, CDT's use of the data collected is totally confidential.
Your organisation's contact information is held separately from the assessment data. Data will not be linked to a participant in your organisation by someone from outside. No information about individual participant's answers will ever be divulged. Nor will your organisation's results be made available to anyone outside of your organisation (apart from the Aspire Adviser whom you may chose to assist with your action plan following completion of the questionnaires.)
CDT may wish to use broad data from Aspire for research purposes, but this will always be statistical data about broad groups of organisations. It will never be possible for readers of research material based on Aspire's results to know which individual organisations particular information comes from.
Passwords and IDs
When you register, you will be given your organisation ID, a participants' password (mentioned in the email) and a co-ordinator's password. The co-ordinator's password is for you alone to use, so that you can access reports and change passwords. The participants' password is for all participants to use - including yourself, to access and answer the questionnaires. When your people register as participants, they will each be allocated a participant ID. They must make a note of their ID, in case they are unable to complete the questionnaire in one sitting or the internet connection goes down.
Your results give you information about people's views about various aspects of your organisation. For consistency, therefore, there should not be more than two weeks between the first participant and the last completing their questionnaire. (You should regard a month as the absolute maximum.) The validity of the results will be reduced if a longer time elapses due to the changes that inevitably occur in organisations over time.
4 The Reports
The report will identify areas of strength and weakness in 2 categories:
- The 7 operational areas.
- The 5 underlying foundational values, integrated throughout the assessment.
(see the ASPIRE Overview for further details)
The results report will be more open to analysis. There will be the facility to investigate the data further, interactively, further analysing areas or values, answers from different people groups, or responses to specific questions.
The report will also give you direction as to what to work on, addressing areas for development.
Your Aspire Adviser can
- Help you to gain an in-depth understanding of your Aspire reports
- Discuss the implications for your organisation of both the reports and further analysis of your results from the Aspire questionnaire that they will provide
- Help you to decide (a) what areas / values / behaviours (if any) need improvement in your organisation, and (b) how you can get started on making appropriate changes
- provide you with a short report summarising the decisions you have discussed, and emphasising the key areas for development that you should build into an action plan for getting the best possible ongoing benefit from Aspire.
5 Guidance on Registration
The "registration" questions are very important to CDT as they help us overview all the responding organisations and conduct research around Aspire. The notes below help define some of these questions, but if you need to refer back you can always do so.
- Umbrella organisation - your organisation may be connected / a member of a national or regional organisation through affiliation or membership.
- Sectors - your organisation may not easily fall into just one category but please choose the one that you are mostly known for, or describes the majority of your work, avoiding (f) below if possible:
- Aid/development charity - meeting physical needs or support of vulnerable people.
- Service provider - you supply particular services or goods to a selected audience.
- Mission - your aim is to share the Gospel message.
- Church - you exist for Christians to be effective together in worship and outreach.
- Christian run business - you run a commercial enterprise with a Christian ethos.
- Other - your organisation doesn't fall into any of these categories.
- Christian proportion - Give a realistic estimate of what proportion of your people are Christians. We have defined "Christian" elsewhere as someone who has an active, personal faith in Jesus Christ, but you may wish to adopt a definition that is more appropriate in your context.
- Base type - The assessment can be affected by the number of locations your organisation works in. Please indicate which type of assessment is most appropriate: a) one site assessment required - where most or all your people work at one address, or you are just assessing those at one address. b) multi-site assessment required - where you are assessing the whole organisation, based in several locations.
- HR Leader - This question determines whether you have a knowledgeable person whose main role in the organisation is Human Resources, rather than a senior leader who is also responsible for people-issues.
- Size of organisation - your total number may include all paid staff and volunteers who are part of the organisation being assessed. You should refer to the table above for an indication of the appropriate number of participants to sample for the assessment. There is nothing to stop you assessing just one particular location or department. If this is the case, the size is only those people who are within "scope" of this assessment.
- Organisation's Faith position - Your organisation may not easily fall into just one category, but please choose one that describes your predominant position:
Purchasing AspirePLUS allows you to add your own questions to the standard Aspire question set. To do this you must purchase AspirePLUS - Create. If you then want to subsequently reuse your additional questions on a later assessment, you can purchase AspirePLUS - Reuse at a cheaper rate, which allows you to reuse that set of questions, but not make any amendments to them.
To check which questions already exist in Aspire please try out the questionnaires, but DO NOT click on [Complete Questionnaire] button at the end of the questionnaire, as this will prevent you from adding in any more of your own questions. Please define a draft set of additional questions, grouping them into topic areas, and email them to Christian Distinctives. Our occupational psychologist will check these for you and make recommendations. You should then enter the questions by topic area through the Add Questions option on the main Aspire menu. You can amend these questions until a participant completes a questionnaire and then no further modifications can be made.
7 How Should Aspire be Completed?
For the assessment to be most effective and helpful to the organisation, we would encourage you to be as honest as possible. There is always a temptation to answer the questions in a way that reflects the way you want it to be or are working towards. Asking yourself "does this really happen?" will help you evaluate how far you have got in this on-going process.
With a spirit of understanding:
We have endeavoured to phrase questions in the light of the spectrum of organisations and churches using ASPIRE. Care needs to be taken in understanding the spirit of the question. We have phrased most questions in a way that implies a formalised process or policy, but this can apply equally to an informal approach in a smaller organisation. For instance, when we talk of policy, larger organisations may have structured and detailed policies, whereas a smaller church may just have an unwritten understanding, that has been thought-through, discussed and agreed. In particular, references to prayer can include individual and/or collective prayer that is either audible or silent.
In one go:
We strongly advise participants to complete the questionnaire in one sitting, but if this is not possible, they can re-enter where they left off, by using the link: www.christiandistinctives.org/aspire_resume.php. If an individual has to enter a second time they should do so within 24 hours.
Questions about leaders refer to those who provide overall leadership of your organisation. (E.g. the senior leadership team.) However you may need to clarify with your people whether this includes your trustees. It is also important that people understand they are being asked to assess how they feel about the collective leadership style rather than just one individual.
Before you look at your reports, please check the Participants' profile report. This will show whether all the people you have chosen have completed the questionnaires. If they haven't yet this will reflect in the results.
Please fill in your feedback form once your have completed your assessment and analysed your reports. We are keen to hear how helpful you found this process and to act on any suggestions you may have. You'll find the feedback form on the View Reports menu - and don't forget to refer to the Glossary.