Psychological safety is the shared belief that a team environment is safe for interpersonal risk taking. It is when you can share your best / wildest ideas without fear that it might damage your status or career.
It is crucially important on every team. Psychological safety is the key to creativity, innovation and change. Those activities involve doing things that have never been done before. Knowing that your team will not eat you alive is a prerequisite.
Psychological safety is also necessary to promote productive conflict and shake off groupthink. Without psychological safety, your team will worry that they may damage teamwork via conflict.
Alfred Sloane quote- “If we are all in agreement on the decision – then I propose we postpone further discussion of this matter until our next meeting to give ourselves time to develop disagreement and perhaps gain some understanding of what the decision is all about.”
Psychological safety enhances the likelihood that a bias for action is present on the team. You do not want to rely too heavily on the bravery of individuals when action is required.
This type of environment will get you in a position where you might actually hear the truth. Speaking truth to power takes courage, but it is much more likely if they feel safe in doing so. The old saying, “you heard the truth for the last time the day that you were promoted.” is true. However, it is not guaranteed.
How do you create psychological safety on your team?
- Model engagement as an example for your team.
- Display understanding / empathy for your team and the challenges they face.
- Avoid the blame and shame game.
- Develop your self awareness, discuss it and help your team develop their own self awareness.
- Be proactive. Do not let negativity and pessimism take root on your team.
- Make decisions as a team to increase ownership.
- Ask for feedback and act upon it.
- Be the champion for your team. Ensure that they get the recognition and the resources they deserve.
As you review the list above, how would you rate your performance on each? Pick one and start working on improvement.
Start today: Develop a culture of psychological safety on your team and you will see increased innovation, creativity, positive change and a bias for action.
Just my opinion. What do you think? Let me know in the comments.
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