EpiC Vietnam transforms team dynamics using CLA
Meeting Targets and Maintaining Epidemic Control (EpiC) is a global project funded by the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). EpiC Vietnam initially focused on improving HIV prevention, care, and treatment. However, in 2021, the project rapidly expanded to meet USAID’s requests to address the COVID-19 pandemic and combating trafficking in persons (CTIP), all while facing team disruptions due to COVID-19. With support from external facilitators, the team underwent a restructure and a nine-month organizational development effort, focusing on communication, feedback, collaboration, and respect (Phase I). Following Phase I, a second phase was initiated to sustain gains in Phase I and increase focus on collaborating, learning, and adapting (CLA). At the start of the process, EpiC employed "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team" assessment. They reused this assessment at the end of Phase I, and again 12 months later (during Phase II). All five areas of dysfunction (trust, conflict, commitment, accountability, and results) showed improvement on a nine-point scale from baseline in November 2021 to Phase II assessment in May 2023 (trust: 6.4 to 7.3, conflict: 7.9 to 8.0, commitment: 7.4 to 7.9, accountability: 5.5 to 7.1, results: 5.9 to 7.3).
As a result of Phase I efforts, the project successfully navigated several uncertainties and disruptions during Phases I and II, and built a more positive and psychologically safe work environment. Other outcomes included innovations, efficiencies, and improved team-dynamics and team-performance across EpiC’s HIV, COVID-19, and CTIP sub-projects, with broader financial investment from USAID that increased the project portfolio from $4.5 million to $10.2 million in one year. Strong commitment from leadership helped build an enabling environment, while staff buy-in and identification of human and financial resources ensured efforts could be sustained.
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