The Team Behavior Change Program
The Team Behavior Change Program uses Viva Insights and behavioral science to help teams reduce burnout and increase productivity by improving their collaboration habits.
In this multi-week program, team members who are led by a manager work together to learn how to use Viva Insights, diagnose problems, set and track goals, and build new habits to change the way the team collaborates.
At its core, the program is a series of Viva Insights Learning modules that can require as little as 15 minutes per week from team members.
The biggest time investment is made upfront by the program manager who is responsible for designing a program that will meet the team’s needs. For example, the program manager might design a short program that encourages teams to experiment with new behaviors, or they might launch a longer, more rigorous program that requires an overarching team goal and weekly check-in meetings.
The following content is meant to help program managers design a wide range of custom habit-change programs for teams.
Benefits of a team-based approach to change
We all know that change can be hard. People are hard-wired to stick to the status quo even when it hurts. However, behavior change doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Collaboration without burnout says research indicates that doing just four or five things differently can enable people to reclaim 18 to 24 percent of their collaborative time.
Team commitment can be a powerful lever for individual behavior change. In The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg writes, “The evidence is clear: if you want to change a habit, you must find an alternative routine, and your odds of success go up dramatically when you commit to changing as part of a group.”
Professor Sandy Pentland, who directs the MIT Connection Science and Human Dynamics labs, has said that collective intelligence builds when one person shows enthusiasm, recruits others, and the group begins to work together. “Just hearing something said rarely results in change in behavior. They’re just words. When we see people in our peer group play with an idea, our behavior changes.” (The Culture Code, by Daniel Coyle)
Conditions for program success
The following program components are critical for the success of any change program:
- An executive sponsor
- A program purpose statement
- A dedicated program manager
- A well-defined and empowered team
An executive sponsor
Multiple large studies conducted over the past two decades have consistently identified an active and visible executive sponsor as the most important contributor to change-management success (Prosci Best Practices Report).
Unless the scope of change is very extensive, an executive sponsor does not have to be a c-level executive, but regardless of title, this person should hold a senior-level leadership position and be a key decision-maker for the team. For more information on the role of the executive sponsor, see Team Adoption plan.
A program purpose statement
To enthusiastically participate in a change program, participants need to believe in the purpose behind a change. When people are asked to behave in a way that conflicts with their beliefs, they tend to resist change. Therefore, a program’s executive sponsor must partner with the program manager to define a compelling purpose statement for the program. The following questions can help to define the program purpose:
- What do we want to change about our existing collaboration habits?
- Why is this change important for the business?
- What are the employee benefits of the change?
- What is the risk of not changing?
Keep in mind that what motivates management might not be what motivates employees. Research shows that people frequently overestimate the extent to which others share their own attitudes, beliefs, and opinions, and they find it difficult to imagine that others don’t know something that they themselves do know (The Four Building Blocks of Change). To avoid these biases, reflect on what specifically motivates your team, such as their impact on their colleagues and/or customer, and build that into the program purpose. (The Irrational Side of Change Management).
As you answer these questions, seek input from select members of your team. Their involvement in the development phase helps to cultivate their commitment to the change program. Behavioral science shows that when people choose their direction for themselves, they are far more committed to outcomes. Keep this insight in mind when structuring the details of the program.
A dedicated program manager
A dedicated program manager is the heart of a change program. This person has a deep understanding of the team’s challenges and is invested in realizing positive results. The program manager is typically the team’s direct manager. If not, then they are someone with authority whom the team trusts and knows well. For more information, see Program manager.
A well-defined and empowered team
Programs are most effective when the participating team is deliberately defined as people working under the same conditions and toward the same business objectives. This shared purpose and environment enables effective goal setting and accountability. Collaboration problems and their root causes can vary significantly across teams even within the same department. While there is no “one-size fits all” solution to collaboration problems, a cohesive team has better odds of defining a shared goal and identifying new team norms to meet that goal. An example of a cohesive team is a marketing team reporting to a single manager all focused on marketing the same product.
Just as important as defining a cohesive team is to ensure that the people on that team are empowered to change. They need to feel confident that they can safely experiment with new behaviors. For example, if the team goal is to reduce meeting hours, but team members are afraid to decline a meeting invite, the program will fail. It is the job of both the executive sponsor and program manager to empower program participants through clear communications, behavior role-modeling, and providing rewards and recognition (for more information on rewards and recognition, see Reinforce).
Program PhasesThe Team Behavior Change Program has four phases: plan, implement, measure, and reinforce.
Plan: The program manager collaborates with key stakeholders to create the program plan tailored to the needs of the team. Planning activities include building the team, structuring the program, and developing the communications plan.
Key stakeholders are people who’ve been chosen by the program manager to help build the program. The stakeholders include the executive sponsor, any managers involved in program implementation, and select team members from whom the program manager solicits feedback.
Implement: The team implements the program, guided by the program manager. Program participants are engaged and supported with regular communications, resources, and check-ins.
Measure: The program manager collects and analyzes feedback and data from Viva Insights, surveys, and any additional sources to measure the program results and create the program debrief.
Reinforce: The executive sponsor and program manager establish appropriate rewards and recognition to encourage sustained change. They also determine next steps for the program.
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