11 April 2024 | Dr Jo Kandola

The 4 stages of behaviour change

Successful inclusion training goes beyond awareness-raising and brings about measurable, sustainable shifts in behaviour. An impressive 96% of Kandola+ learners demonstrate more inclusive behaviours, and that’s because our programmes use a science-backed 4-stage approach to behaviour change.

A lot of DEI training does a good job of raising awareness of inclusion issues such as racism, sexism or anti-LGBTQ discrimination – but that’s where it stops. As psychologists with 40 years’ experience of working to create inclusive workplaces, we know that this kind of training only scratches the surface and is unlikely to bring about behaviour change. Being aware of issues isn’t enough to get people to behave more inclusively. If we want to get real, sustainable behaviour change, then any training needs to go much deeper.

The case for inclusive behaviour

When individuals and organisations adopt inclusive behaviours, it fosters a sense of belonging and acceptance among diverse groups, leading to better collaboration, greater innovation, and increased productivity.

The benefits of an inclusive working environment are clear. A 2020 study by McKinsey of over 1000 organisations in over 15 countries found that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability than those in the fourth quartile, while companies were also 36% more likely to financially outperform if they were in the top quartile for ethnic diversity on executive teams. The study also found that the greater the representation, the higher the likelihood of outperformance. Yet the study also highlighted the fact that merely having a diverse workforce was not enough. It found that the key to unlocking the potential of a diverse workforce is inclusive behaviour.

How easy is it to get behaviour change?

Achieving any kind of behaviour change can be highly challenging, and behaviour change around inclusion is no exception.

Our good and bad habits become ingrained over time, and we all have cognitive biases and ingrained mental patterns that influence our decisions and behaviour. People are often fundamentally resistant to change and may not see the benefits of changing their behaviour, and there may be a general lack of accountability, where people already see themselves as ‘doing the right thing’ and believe that the problem lies with other people.

A lack of leadership buy-in and support, or where leaders themselves behave in a non-inclusive way, can mean that nobody else in the organisation stays motivated to be more inclusive as they feel their efforts won’t be recognised or rewarded.

Why is behaviour change needed for inclusion?

Inclusion isn’t just knowing what’s ‘right’ or ‘fair’. It’s about actively behaving in an inclusive way towards those around us. While some of us are by nature more inclusive than others, we can all sometimes behave in a non-inclusive way and very importantly, we are all biased.

This means that as well as becoming more aware of exclusion and its impact, we also need to learn what we can do personally to be more inclusive of other people and, crucially, be prepared to try out these new behaviours.

We know from experience that any learning intervention needs to have robust methods of behaviour change built in for it to be effective. Research shows that individuals are more likely to develop new skills and alter their behaviour when:

  • They have basic knowledge and understanding of the area to be developed.
  • They receive feedback on their skills and abilities in the area to be developed.
  • They receive clear guidance on what they need to do to develop areas identified as a weakness.
  • They are able to measure their progress and get feedback on whether or not the changes they have implemented are having the desired impact.

What are the 4 stages of behaviour change?

We’ve spent decades successfully delivering lasting behavioural change for organisations worldwide, and at scale. The four stages of behaviour change that underpin our digital programmes are:

Stage 1: Awareness

Awareness lays the foundation for behaviour change by providing individuals with the knowledge and motivation to initiate and sustain the change process. In the awareness stage, our programmes cover knowledge basics.

Here, bite size animated explainer videos, delivered by psychologists, introduce the topic of inclusion – for example, what it is, the impact exclusion has on the individual and the organisation and the benefits we can gain by behaving in a more inclusive way towards those around us.

Stage 2: Insight

If you don’t understand the challenges you’re facing – or don’t believe there are any – then you can’t begin to address them. The insight stage of behaviour change is all about becoming self-aware and gaining a clear understanding of what we’re good at and what we need to improve. In the insight stage of our programmes, learners complete powerful psychometric tools such as situational judgement tests, motivation and personality assessments and 360 feedback.

From these assessments, learners get clear and objective insight into how inclusive they are and understand where their strengths and areas for development lie. When it comes to inclusion, insight is particularly critical to behaviour change. When asking people how they compare to their peers on their ability to be inclusive the vast majority rate themselves as being above average -indeed, a recent analysis of data collected in the Insight stage of a programme found that while 77% of leaders reported that they were aware of their unconscious biases and were taking steps to address them, only 46% of their direct reports agreed.

This overconfidence in one’s ability is also known as a self-serving bias, where we attribute positive qualities to ourselves and negative ones to others. Giving learners objective and robust feedback on how inclusive they are combats self-serving bias by pinpointing exactly what the individual is good at and what they need to develop.

Stage 3: Action

Armed with personalised insights, the action phase is all about implementing behaviours into our daily working lives. In the action stage of our programmes, learning becomes even more tailored to individual needs. Using the results from the psychometric assessments, our intelligent platform generates a bespoke personal learning plan for the individual to follow, with action plans based on ‘learn, reflect, do’ methodology where the individual is first taught how to develop the skill(s) identified to be a weakness.

Since 70% of learning occurs on the job, learners are also set inclusion challenges where they are encouraged to embed new behaviours and learning into their day-to-day activities. This approach makes it clear that DEI is not something that is separate from their day job but is instead about how they behave toward their colleagues on a daily basis.

Stage 4: Impact

Being able to see and measure our impact is essential to ensure any behavioural change is lasting. Measuring how effective learners’ efforts have been and showing them that their actions have led to real change has a motivational effect, ensuring learners are keen to further embed the new behaviours they have learned.

Once learners have completed all the inclusion challenges in the action stage of our programmes, they progress to the final impact stage, where they complete an objective assessment of behaviour change. This might involve completing another situational judgement test to assess whether they have become better at being inclusive, or they may re-do a 360-degree feedback questionnaire to gather feedback from others on whether their behaviour has changed as a result of the programme.

Get behaviour change in your organisation

Want to find out how our behaviour-change based learning programmes can help you to achieve long term behaviour change in your organisation? Contact us to find out more or book a demo.