Implementing Psychological Safety at Work

By definition.

  • Psychologically safe work environments allow team members to feel that they can safely take calculated risks without fear of repercussions.
  • A lack of psychological safety may deter people from speaking up about mistakes, knowledge gaps, or potential problems.
  • When working remotely, you can promote psychological safety by being intentional about scheduling 1:1 meetings, asking open-ended questions, modeling boundaries, and setting expectations for video meetings.

Workplace behaviors.

  1. Seeking or giving feedback. Nurture an environment to share positive and developmental feedback.
  2. Making changes and improvements. Always illustrate the WHY with change, so colleagues understand their role in the change and how they can make an impact.
  3. Obtaining or providing help or expertise. Asking for help is a sign of intelligence and strength and not a sign of weakness.
  4. Experimenting. Adopting an iterative approach, like design thinking, where prototypes are tested and improved upon over time.
  5. Engaging in constructive conflict or confrontation. Address conflict quickly (Try Brené Brown’s rumble technique) and don’t let it fester.

Putting it into practice.

  • Approach conflict as a collaborator, not an adversary. Work to create mutually desirable outcomes.
  • Speak human to human. Recognize that everyone has beliefs, perspectives, opinions, anxieties, vulnerabilities, joys, and sorrows — it’s part of the human condition.
  • Replace blame with curiosity. Adopt a learning mindset and don’t assume you know all the facts; heighten your active listening and lead with asking how you can support the other person.
  • Ask for feedback on delivery. This models humility and engenders trust. Receiving feedback (especially for leaders) shows a willingness to grow and develop.

Be accountable.

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