Leadership 101: Tips for Building Psychological Safety

Published on August 7, 2017 by , in Cool & Interesting, Entrepreneurs, Part of a Series, Small Business
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Meetings where team members don’t feel free to speak out and share their thoughts. Brainstorming sessions where opinions are criticized before each idea is finished. Business conversations that are exclusively dominated by the leader – with no room for team members to contribute. Unfortunately, these examples are common in a lot of companies, even in times of startup culture and flat hierarchies. These types of businesses clearly lack the essential characteristics of high-performance teams!

Fear of taking interpersonal risks and the absence of trust in a team are at the core of these symptoms. The repercussions: teams underperform and everyone suffers. What exactly is at the heart of these malfunctioning teams? An absence of psychological safety –  the most important trait, hands down, of high-performance teams! A psychologically safe climate is by far the most relevant trait of successful teams, according to a research by Google featured in Business Insider.

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But, what exactly does psychological safety mean? It describes a teamwork environment in which members feel comfortable about taking risks without feeling embarrassed or insecure. As stated by impraise blog, creating this type of environment is essential to fostering innovative workplaces. In a psychologically safe climate, members can be vulnerable in front of each other without fear of being reprimanded or facing other harmful consequences.

Five Conditions That Are Key to Good Teamwork

Even though psychological safety is the single most pivotal condition for Google’s high-performance teams,  four others were also identified as key to good teamwork. Here’s a look:

  • Dependability: Team members get things done right on time while meeting the shared standards of excellence.   
  • Structure & clarity: Team members have explicit goals, roles, and plans.
  • Meaning: These goals, roles, and plans personally resonate with each of the team members.
  • Purpose: Every team member must have a clear purpose and know how he or she is making a tangible impact.
teamwork

 

Tips for Building Psychological Safety

Building psychological safety and developing these safe productive team dynamics takes clear intention and guidance from the team leader. Before people are willing to be vulnerable and put themselves at risk, they tend to require some explicit allowance and proof. Here are some suggestions to building that psychological safety that is so crucial to a successful team:

Tip #1: Truly Believe in What You Are Doing

In order to build a safe environment for a successful team, you must believe in this groundbreaking way of leadership. As a leader, you must understand that how the members of your team interact is far more important than who is on the team. Human beings have a ‘sixth sense’ when it comes to recognizing authenticity. If you don’t truly believe in this way of leading, team members will recognize you are fake – and lose trust which is what relationships and teams are built on!

Building Psychological Safety

 

Tip #2: Be a Role Model

As a leader, it’s vital that you set an example of the things you expect from each and every one of your team members. You must expose yourself in order to create a safe work environment and benefit from the endless advantages of teamwork. To do so, openly admit your own errors. Bear in mind that your own behavior is a master key to impeding or creating the safe teamwork environment.

Tip #3: Show Engagement

Demonstrate engagement if you want others to engage. You can explicitly ask for feedback or questions. This gives team members allowance to truly express their own thoughts. Be focused and listen to your team members. Don’t pretend to listen – do it! Pay attention to your facial expressions and body language, they speak a thousand words. Rather than looking at the problems, focus on solutions!

Tip #4: Be Respectful and Express Gratitude

Last but most certainly not least, be inclusive in interpersonal settings and decision-making. To do so, it’s imperative that you express gratitude and respond respectfully to contrary opinions in addition to challenging questions. Make sure not to allow interruptions or to interrupt your colleagues. As the team leader, you must show conviction and confidence without appearing inflexible.

Psychological Safety

 

The Bottom Line

Building psychological safety isn’t simply a nice-to-have aspect of your corporate culture. It’s crucial for maintaining highly productive teams that bring innovative projects to life. That’s the bottom line.

Ready to foster productive and creative teams by following Google’s clever insights? Google is worth $500 billion. Follow their advice – they must be doing something right!