What is the key to high-performing teams? According to a Google research dubbed Project Aristotle, it’s psychological safety.
Psychological safety in the workplace refers to the shared idea that it is safe to take interpersonal risks as a group. These risks include, among other things, speaking out when there is an issue with team dynamics and expressing new ideas.
According to the 2019 People Management Report, managers who establish psychologically secure work environments had lower employee turnover on their teams. If you want to keep top performers, guarantee psychological safety throughout the organization. Like any significant endeavour, it must begin at the top with executive support.
Are you unsure whether your staff are psychologically safe? Begin by assessing workplace psychological safety. In this article, the Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at Harvard Business School, Amy Edmondson speaker offers guidance.
How to Create Workplace Psychological Safety
You must hold employees accountable for performance measures as a leader, but your work does not end there. You must also sustain employee engagement by making individuals feel at ease and creating a common idea that the team is risk-free.
Here are eight suggestions for increasing psychological safety in the workplace:
1. Demonstrate your commitment to your team.
If your workers believe you aren’t paying attention when they talk, or that you don’t appreciate their ideas and opinions, they will go.
Being present throughout meetings demonstrates involvement. Making eye contact and closing your laptop are examples of this. During a meeting, it’s simple to become distracted by emails, text messages, or Slack — but even little acts of disengagement may have a detrimental influence on your team’s psychological safety.
Listening to what others have to say is also part of the engagement. Active listening should be practised. In order to ensure that you comprehend the other person’s views or beliefs, ask questions. By actively participating, you create an environment in which individuals feel it is not just acceptable but also encouraged and accepted to speak up.
Talent optimization tip: If your organization has a producing culture, psychological safety in the workplace is extremely vital. Teams must feel secure to take interpersonal risks without fear of being reprimanded or mocked if they want to develop or bring new items to market fast.
2. Demonstrate to your team that you understand.
People feel psychologically comfortable when they know you care enough to comprehend and consider their point of view.
Demonstrate comprehension by recapping what has been heard. “What I heard you say is ______,” for example. “Does that make sense?” This demonstrates your desire to comprehend their point of view. It also allows your team members to explain if you misinterpreted what they stated.
Body language can also be used to demonstrate comprehension. During talks, nod your head to recognize what an employee is saying. Lean forward to demonstrate interest. Keep an eye on your facial expressions. Your employees will notice if you appear exhausted, bored, or dissatisfied. Employees may absorb the message you’re conveying with your expression, even if you don’t mean it: I don’t like this concept.
3. Avoid blaming in order to establish trust.
When anything goes wrong, it’s natural to search for someone to blame. However, in order to create and sustain psychological safety in the workplace, solutions must be prioritized.
Instead of asking, “What occurred and why?” ask, “How can we do this better the next time?” Take note of the emphasis on collaborative language: How can we ensure that this happens easily the next time? We statement shift accountability from a person to a communal effort, rather than blaming an individual for a mistake.
4. Be self-aware — and want your staff to be so as well.
People bring their entire selves to work, including their distinct personalities, interests, and work styles. Increase self-awareness on your team by discussing how you prefer to work, communicate, and be acknowledged. Encourage your teammates to follow suit.
High-performing organizations use behavioural tests to help employees develop self-awareness. Assessments can also be used to improve workplace psychological safety. For example, at PI, we utilize the Relationship Guide function in our software to ensure that we respect the other person’s working and communication preferences.
With a guide from the best management speakers, you can create psychological safety.
5. Put a stop to negativity.
If you have a team member who constantly criticizes their coworkers, talk to them about it. Make it obvious that you operate as a team and that negativity will not be tolerated.
Negativity may become contagious and spread to others when leaders allow it to fester. Employees will believe that they are either expected to speak negatively about others or that others are presumably speaking negatively about them. It’s a psychological safety killer in any situation.
6. Bring your staff into the decision-making process.
Consult with your team before making any choices. Inquire about their ideas, views, and feedback. This will not only make individuals feel included in decision-making, but it will also develop psychological safety and contribute to better outcomes.
Explain your explanation for your decision once you’ve made it. How did their input influence the decision? What other factors were considered? Even if your employees disagree, they will appreciate the candour and openness with which the choice was made.
When conveying choices, be careful to highlight team members’ efforts. Recognize and praise an employee’s contribution if a specific suggestion or piece of feedback led to a decision or a good outcome.
7. Be receptive to feedback.
It is your obligation as a leader to make the final choice on a variety of issues. Your staff needs to know that you are confident in your role, but also that you are adaptable and receptive to their comments.
Employees who feel psychologically comfortable are more likely to provide feedback — up, down, and across the board. This implies they are confident enough to knock on the CEO’s door when crucial information has to be shared.
Invite your team to disagree with you and push back. While it may be uncomfortable at first, healthy disagreement leads to better judgments and more responsibility, making it a win-win situation. You may also set a good example by taking interpersonal risks and disclosing your shortcomings. Try standing up at your next all-company meeting and speaking on a failure—and what you learnt from it.
8. Be a team champion.
Finally, it’s critical to back up and represent your team. Show them you’re on their side by assisting with their personal and professional development. To boost visibility into what your team is accomplishing, share the team’s work with senior leadership—and offer credit to teammates where it is deserved.
Creating psychological safety in the workplace pays dividends.
At the end of the day, building a psychologically secure workplace will boost employee performance. Employees who feel secure and engaged at work are less likely to leave. Try one — or all — of these eight tactics for increasing psychological safety at work and observe how they affect your team.