In line with World Suicide Day on 10th September, it is important to raise awareness of psychological safety in the workplace. I have recently had a clients say to me they didn’t put any strategies place for mental health and psychological safety until one of their employees died by suicide, a devastating tragedy.
Let’s not leave it until it is too late. Let’s embrace emotional fitness, putting strategies into place to protect our teams on an emotional level.
What is psychological safety?
It is a term that has become more recognised in the last few years and should be enforced. Dr Amy Edmondson, a professor at the Harvard Business School derived the term psychological safety. Dr Edmondson defines psychological safety as, “a belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns or mistakes.”
Managers, if your team feels psychologically safe, how would they be acting? They would not be afraid of the negative consequences of their actions. Therefore, they will take smarter risks, they would accept making mistakes, they will be more open in sharing their opinions within other team members, and they will take initiative when it matters most. They would not be punished or humiliated for speaking up, calling out, asking questions and sharing their ideas, mistakes and concerns.
What are the benefits of psychological safety in the workplace?
Psychological safety will make your team feel more confident to express their views, so they are more likely to share their knowledge, showing their strengths to the fullest and contribute to the team’s success.
Why is psychological safety important?
Psychological safety is one of the critical factors for high-performing teams and is even identified as the top indicator of the performance of a team. Recently, Google’s research on characteristics of high-performing teams identified psychological safety as their top indicator of the performance of a team.
Managers, you have the power to create a psychologically safe environment for your team.
Here are 5 Ways to create a Psychologically Safe Workplace:
- Encourage your team to be self-aware. If you are self- aware, you will modify your emotional reactions and behaviour. If your team is self-aware, they will do the same. Behaviour breeds behaviour. Self-awareness will enable more open communication, encouraging your team to speak up and talk to you.
- Provide accurate information and be trustworthy. Your team will trust you more if you set clear goals and keep your commitments. This will enhance a feeling of trust, developing your relationships.
- Ask for suggestions/feedback from your team before making an important decision during your meetings. How have you ever felt when someone asks you for suggestions? I know, when my managers in the past has asked me for suggestions, it has boosted my confidence. We want our team to feel more confident.
- Treat team members as human beings with feelings. They will feel more comfortable speaking up if they know you regard them as people, not simply for their work, productivity, and success. Don’t treat them like a number. They are humans with feelings.
- Openly appreciate your team. Thanking your team members for their support and expressing appreciation will make them feel valued and motivated. I remember the first time I was ever thanked by a manager. The feeling I had was amazing. I was much more motivated and really wanted to succeed in my role.
Do you know how psychologically safe your team members feel? Email me on firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a 5-minute survey to find out.