Psychological Safety: Getting Started at Your Workplace
Wednesday, October 26, 2022 - Joe Kiedinger
If you missed my last Wisdom on Wednesday, psychological safety is, “A shared belief held by members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking,” according to Amy Edmonson, a frontrunner in psychological safety research. In other words, it means feeling safe to engage openly without fearing negative social consequences.
Now, doesn’t that sound like nirvana? Imagine being able to toss wild ideas out without odd looks or being able to question the status quo without facing a heated argument.
Work should be a safe place to communicate without feeling judgment from others. So, how do we get there?
- Train your leaders: The fastest way to encourage widespread change is by teaching your leaders and having them live that change. They will be able to instill psychological safety through their words and actions.
- Be authentic: Build trust among your team by just being yourself. Exercise transparency and be real with your employees. You may think keeping plans in your back pocket is a good idea or that they can’t tell when you’re stressed or are putting on a brave face… but they can.
- Be accepting: If you want your employees to open up to you and share their honest thoughts and ideas, be open to hearing things you’ve never considered without beating them back with “what ifs.” I’ve always found it helpful to dream big and consider all the positives that could come of a new idea—what could go right? What could this do for our company?
- Be curious: Has your team hit a roadblock? Rather than blaming others or making assumptions, get curious! With neutral tone, ask for your staff’s input in solving a problem. Go after it as a team rather than choosing a person to blame.
- Be open to mistakes: Build a culture where it’s ok to mess up and own it! Leaders, a great first place to start is by admitting a mistake you made.Forgot the handouts for a client meeting? Gave the wrong numbers in a budget meeting? It’s ok to call out your mistake. In fact, it makes it more comfortable for your employees to do the same when they see you living by example. It also contributes to a transparent culture.