Circling back to Patrick Lencioni’s 5 dysfunctions of a team, another critical aspect of team performance is that individuals on a team feel safe in expressing their viewpoints and openly challenging others.
Psychological safety has been a buzz-phrase recently. What does this mean and why is it important?
Psychological safety is the belief that you won’t be humiliated or punished when sharing your own concerns and ideas. It’s an environment where people can take risks, say unpopular things and not be ousted from the team or made to feel shame.
Do you recall a time when you held back on speaking up because you feared your ideas would not be embraced by the group? Have you been in a meeting when someone has spoken up with a less-than-popular idea and then was ignored by the group? We’ve all made mistakes – did we feel comfortable owning up to them?
Psychological safety within a workplace has to be cultivated, and it starts with the culture developed and supported by leaders. We can all create psychology safe spaces. Some tips:
- Don’t blame the messenger. If someone comes to you with difficult news, appreciate that they had the courage to come forward. Then seek to understand the root cause and help make things right.
- Model openness,empathy and curiosity
- Ensure all voices are heard and respected
- Encourage countervailing points of view
- Take calculated risks and step outside your comfort zone
- Approach difficult conversations as a partner rather than a competitor
- Encourage risk-taking to promote innovation