Psychological Safety in the workplace.

The term ‘Psychological Safety’, coined by Harvard Business School’s Amy C Edmonson, has become widely recognised in recent years as one of the key characteristics of high performing teams.

“Psychological safety is a shared belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns or mistakes.”

Psychological safety benefits organisations, teams and individuals by creating an environment where team members can learn from their mistakes. It fosters innovation and boosts employee engagement. Psychological safety is about candor, and about making it possible for productive disagreement and free exchange of ideas. It is also the primary ingredient for building an inclusive work culture.

So how do I create  psychological safety in my workplace?

Bernard Coleman III, from Forbes Council, outlines six simple ways that inclusive leaders can promote psychological safety within their team:

1. Recognise that mistakes are part of growth. Let your team know that making mistakes is part of process improvement, and greater learning occurs from mistakes. An inclusive leader should not vilify their team for missteps and should accept that failure sometimes happens.

2. Create conversations. Ask questions, probe and make it a dialogue. A bit of back and forth creates greater agency and allows teams to be more solution-oriented in solving the challenges at hand.

3. Be vulnerable. Inclusive leaders should acknowledge when they’ve made a mistake and take ownership publicly. This creates vulnerability and sets a tone of openness.

4. Establish accountability. Establish clear goals, KPIs, or whatever metric you use to establish accountability for your organization. Then the team needs to own what they’ve been tasked with and know while it is OK to fail, there are also boundaries and structures of accountability associated with each task.

5. Be available. Make yourself available for the team. You’re a leader for a reason, and as such, your team looks to you for guidance, direction and support. As much as people yearn for autonomy, they also like to know they are going in the right direction. It’s reassuring to be able to check in and ask questions.

6. Compose yourself. Inclusive leaders are able to master composure of their emotions. The team watches how leaders respond to stressors and those corresponding reactions are often emulated, be they good or bad. Clear-eyed, rational thinking and calm responses are reassuring hallmarks of inclusive leadership that can cascade through the team.

So how ‘safe’ do your employees feel at work?  How safe do you feel? Is a lack of psychological safety in your workplace effecting your productity and innovation? If so, reach out today and find out how you can start laying the foundations for a safer and more inclusive culture.