Organizations can build psychological safety by cultivating the right mindsets and behaviors within their leaders and teams. Creating the climate for improvements to occur begins with everyone in an organization valuing each other’s ideas and caring about each other’s well-being.
Psychological Safety is essential to any transformation.
An environment where team members feel safe to be vulnerable, express ideas, take risks, and learn from failure.
A shared belief held by members of a team that others on the team will not embarrass, reject, or punish them for speaking up.
People feel empowered to suggest ideas, solve problems, and leave their work better than they found it.
The term “psychological safety” was devised by author and Harvard business school professor, Amy Edmondson. Psychological safety is crucial for teams to function well, learn from mistakes, and problem solve. Creating an environment with these elements requires a balance between psychological safety and accountability. Depending on how each element is balanced, an organization will typically find their environment in one of four zones.
In the anxiety zone, people experience a high level of accountability and a low level of psychological safety. When mistakes are made, people fear blame, humiliation, or punishment. The common response is to avoid speaking up or taking ownership. Moments for learning or innovation are rare.
In the apathy zone, people experience both low accountability and low psychological safety. There is neither repercussions when mistakes are made or a supportive environment for problem solving. This leads people to struggle with caring about their work.
In the comfort zone, people experience low accountability but high psychological safety. While people feel comfortable in their work environment, there is often no push for creativity or growth.
In the learning zone, people experience both high accountability and high psychological safety. People feel responsible for their actions while continuously receiving support from their team. This allows for risk taking, innovation, and a drive to do better work.
5 Ways to Help
Make psychological safety an explicit priority.
2. ROLE MODEL
Equip leaders with tools and standards of behavior.
Make it safe to speak up and treat failing as learning.
4. INVITE IDEAS
Create space for ideas and outside of the box thinking.
Don’t just share ideas, test them, then test them again.
When employees feel safe asking for help, sharing ideas, and speaking up when they see a problem without fear of consequences, organizations are more likely to innovate and adapt to change by unlocking the creative potential of their workforce.
When organizations partner with us, they are often seeking to improve their results by solving a complex problem that is hampering their performance and pursuit of their most important goals.
When it comes to problem-solving we believe in acting as an “idea farmer”, helping to harvest the ideas that already exist within your organization.
To do that effectively, we believe there are three secret ingredients:
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