Picture Source : IFS Benefits
At work, psychological safety is just as important as physical safety. In other words, psychological safety is the feeling or belief that you can freely share your thoughts, opinions, and ideas without fear of being humiliated or embarrassed. In the workplace, psychological safety is the shared belief that it is safe to take interpersonal risks as a group. These risks include speaking up when team dynamics go wrong and sharing creative ideas. According to the 2022 State of Workforce Optimization report, one in four of his companies said psychological safety was the most important factor in employee retention. If you want to retain high-performing employees, you need to provide psychological safety throughout your organization. Like any major initiative, it must start at the top with management approval.
Here are eight tips for building psychological safety at work :
1. Make psychological safety an explicit priority
Discuss with your team the importance of establishing psychological safety in the workplace. Connect it to a higher purpose: organizational innovation, team engagement, and increased inclusiveness. Ask for help when you need it, volunteer for help when asked. We set the stage by modeling the behavior we want to see and applying inclusive leadership practices.
2. Show your team that you are committed
Show your involvement by attending meetings. This includes making eye contact and closing your laptop. It's easy to get distracted by emails, text messages, or Slack during meetings, but these small distractions can have a negative impact on your team's psychological safety. Commitment also means listening to others. Practice active listening. Ask questions to make sure you understand other people's thoughts and opinions. Participation helps create an environment where people feel comfortable expressing their opinions. In fact, it is encouraged and accepted.
3. Facilitate everyone speaking up
Show genuine curiosity and be open and honest. Be open-minded, compassionate, and willing to listen when someone bravely says something that challenges the status quo. Organizations with a coaching culture are more likely to have team members who have the courage to speak the truth.
4. Let your team see you understand
When people know that you care enough to understand and consider their point of view, they experience psychological relief. You can also use body language to show understanding. During discussions, nod to understand what your colleagues are saying. Show engagement by leaning forward. Notice the facial expressions. If you're tired, bored, or frustrated, your employees will notice. It may mean nothing, but employees can understand the message your face is sending.
5. Avoid blaming to build trust
It's easy to try to blame someone when something goes wrong. However, building and maintaining psychological safety in the workplace requires a focus on solutions. Instead of asking, "What happened and why?" ask, "How can I make sure it works next time?" Notice the emphasis on collaborative language. How can we make sure this goes smoothly next time? Our statement turns responsibility into a group effort, rather than a single blame for failure.
6. Be self-aware—and demand the same from your team
People approach their work by giving full play to their unique personalities, preferences, working styles, and so on. Boost your team's confidence by sharing how you work, your communication preferences, how you want to be recognized, and more. Encourage team members to do the same. High-performing companies conduct behavioral assessments to boost employee self-esteem. Assessments can also be used to build psychological safety in the workplace. For example, PI uses relationship guide tools in its software to ensure respect for each other's work and communication preferences.
7. Make an intentional effort to promote dialogue
Create a space that encourages the ability to give and receive feedback and provides an opportunity to raise concerns. Ask your colleagues meaningful, open-ended questions and listen actively and attentively to understand their feelings and values, not just the facts. It provides an opportunity to learn how to give each other constructive feedback and what it means to be treated with respect. Improved feedback conversation skills combined with a psychologically safe work environment encourages colleagues to more willingly share their implicit concerns and propose solutions that undergo more rigorous stress testing before implementation.
8. Celebrate your team
Finally, it's important to support and represent your team. Notice and recognize what is going well. Positive interactions and conversations between individuals are based on trust and mutual respect. Celebrate the small things that go well and thank people for their efforts. Encouraging and expressing gratitude builds confidence in team members. Empower your team members to take risks, ask for help, and admit mistakes. Trust them this time they will do the same for you.
Source : HBR, Center for Creative Leadership, Betterup, The Predictive Index