The Trust Diagnostic: #WorkingOutLoud on the Alpha Group Analysis

Assume that today’s post is full of caveats: i wanted to share my initial analysis of the first prototype of the Trust Diagnostic, but this is very early stage work, and it will take me some time to find my way with it. Part of #WorkingOutLoud is to share your evolving thinking, and the Landscape of Trust is an open data project, so both those imperatives incite me to pull my finger out and just share it the best that i can. First, context: i refer you to this recent post to understand what the alpha diagnostic is.

Trust Diagnostic - i feel valued when

The dataset that i’m sharing here is from a group i ran it with in Singapore last week: there were 17 participants. Over time, i hope to build out some standard text around each question (describing which aspect of Trust it is exploring, and some standard text describing the relative values e.g. ‘if your group looked like this, then this is what we may read into it’. This will let me move towards a greater degree of automation in the analysis.

I feel valued at work when…

In total, the 17 participants selected 63 different choices, so an average of 3.8 choices each. My expectation for this question was that ‘freedom’ would rate strongly, and ‘reward’ would rate low (people were able to choose multiple options). ‘Reward’ has indeed rated very low, with five selections (29%), but ‘freedom’ is almost equally low, with six (35%). Possibly ‘autonomy’ (59%), the second highest rated response, could correlate to ‘freedom’, expressing the notion of ‘individual agency’ (my confirmation bias indicates that i hope it says this: in the Change Handbook writing i’m doing right now, i identify ‘individual agency’ as a key component of the Socially Dynamic Organisation, so i’m willing that result to come through…)

Development’ (64% of respondents), ‘Recognition’ (64%) and ‘Respect’ (64%), were each selected by 11 of the 17 respondents. That may tie in nicely with some of the narrative accounts, which express ‘legacy’ as something that they value.

Inclusion’ (47%) is interesting, i had expected that to rate more highly, but it sits around the middle. I’ll be interested to see if this one shows regional or gender based difference, once we start adding those demographics in.

Arguably, ‘Development’ falls directly in the gift of the Organisation, as, perhaps, do ‘Recognition’, and ‘Reward’. In total, they account for 40% of responses. We could therefore take a view that 40% of the thing that make people feel valued are under the control of the organisation.

That would leave 60% (‘freedom’, ‘respect’, ‘inclusion’, and ‘autonomy’) being ‘awarded’, or maybe ‘moderated’, by the community. I realise that there is some wriggle room here: we could argue that ‘autonomy’ is granted by an organisation with an agile mindset, so it should count as a factor that falls under organisational control. But equally, autonomy may be claimed in some ways, even when not granted. I guess we could split the difference…

So what could a narrative say? Let’s try this: ‘There are multiple factors that make people feel valued: some of these fall under the control of the organisation, whilst others appear to be held by the community itself. If we wish to build out a strong Trust network through the organisation, we should maximise the opportunity of those factors which are within our control (development, legacy), and nurture and facilitate those factors which are in the gift of the community (respect, recognition, freedom)’.

Phase 3 of the Landscape of Trust research will see us looking into Development Pathways: taking the visualisations, and diagnostic tools, built out of the research, and making practical suggestions for effecting change. I won’t start that work until next year, but, just to play, i might suggest some ideas. For development, if we went with the reading above, we may wish to consider socially moderated ideas for formalised recognition and respect (e.g. a tool to let you award ‘thanks’ to individuals within a team, which can be examined at scale to see where they cluster), or we could consider an ‘autonomy’ index), a second tool that helps people to explore, or articulate, what ‘autonomy’ means for them.

I’ll pause there: as first attempts go, i feel fairly unsatisfied: i feel pretty sure that i could have reversed most of that interpretation. Whilst some factors stand out reasonably strongly (notably that ‘freedom’ and ‘reward’ score low, the rest is more ambiguous.

The Landscape of Trust

My aim is to rapidly cycle through a number of these alpha prototypes, so possibly the first thing to do is to see if there is a normalised distribution: i don’t know if i will be more excited if there is, or if there isn’t. If we always see similar trends, it may indicate some valuable insight into who ‘owns’ which part, whilst if we see radical variation each time, i think that is equally ok, as it indicates potential to shape results more easily, if we can agree what ‘effective’ looks like. Perhaps in an ideal world, we can correlate certain response sets to other, wider measure of success. E.g. do organisations where populations sample ‘low’ for ‘reward’ and ‘freedom’, do they also score low on e.g. the Readiness for Change diagnostic (also, itself, currently running in beta testing).

So i’ll leave you with that unresolved response, and share more analysis through this week. This part of #WorkingOutLoud, and, indeed, of research in general, is a familiar feeling of wading through mud. The hope is that, with time, volume, and some judicious statistics, we can come to sense the order, the signal from the noise.

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About julianstodd

A learning and development professional specialising in e-learning and learning technology.
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9 Responses to The Trust Diagnostic: #WorkingOutLoud on the Alpha Group Analysis

  1. Gail Radecki says:

    I would like to see you pursue the autonomy index. It would be very interesting to see how people define autonomy (I suspect you’d have answers ranging from not having a micro-manager for a boss to working entirely independently), and how these definitions and perceptions fit into the trust framework. Do people want to work alone because they don’t trust the others on their team to carry their weight, or do they just prefer to be alone? Does it feel like the boss is breathing down your neck because he doesn’t trust you, or is it because he is feeling pressure from upper-level management to get results? A lot of this is rooted in communication, good or bad, between team members and managers/employees.

  2. Sali says:

    Nice work Julian.
    I would certainly argue that autonomy can be claimed and nurtured by the individual.
    Some organisations might be surprised by the seemingly paradoxical result of nurturing autonomy, agency in a narrative sense, as it can have an impact on every aspect of an individual’s experience of life including performance.

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