Dr. Amy Edmondson, a professor at Harvard Business School, uses the term “psychological safety” and defines it as “a climate in which people are comfortable being (and expressing) themselves.” Studies have showed that teams with higher rates of psychological safety are better in driving and implementing higher performance. A culture of psychological safety enables employees to be engaged, which provides them with the ability to take risks and experiment. It ensures that there is a personalized environment created for everyone within a team yet maintaining the focus towards the collective goal or result.
Based on the findings of Aristotle, there exist five reasons that make teams successful. These are as follows-
- Psychological Safety – A scenario where there is a high level of trust, thereby making it easy for employees to take risks and be vulnerable in front of each other.
- Dependability – There needs to be high level of dependability which means that each team member supports the other and gets deliverables out of their way.
- Structure and Clarity – A proven method to achieve this has been to create team rituals- a set of values that each team member abides to
- Meaning – Work is personally important to team members.
- Impact – You like to believe that the work you out up are changing lives, your work has impacted other’s lives.
A psychologically safe workplace is the one where all have a shared belief that taking interpersonal risks as a group is alright. This can also include bouncing off an off-beat, creative idea with the team, or openly speaking of unfair team dynamics.
Now that we have a clear picture of how teams perform when they are their best, it’s time to gather thoughts on psychological safety can be introduced at workplace.
- Show the team that you are engaged – Engagement in this context means being an active listener. It means that we often get distracted by the sound of a mail notification or an urgent meeting invite, it is best if we value other’s opinions and point of views when they are stating one.
- Include the team in decision making- It is essential that during decision making, all stakeholders are involved. In order to make them feel as a part of the system, ask for their inputs, consult them before taking up a big decision, solicit feedback wherever possible.
- Mitigate the low performers – In each team, there would be someone who will be social loafing and as a result they start to spread negativity. As a leader it is your duty to weed this out and ensure this is mitigated, as it is psychological safety killer.
Employees who are present in such an environment are often not afraid to share their piece of mind. This would be an ideal situation for most leaders where everyone is openly communicating. Though it may appear simple in theory, it is a tough nail to crack during implementation. There needs to be higher levels of trust in working relationships, fostering open and clear communication, erasing all fears and by nurturing and knitting all into one.