Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Does psychological safety exist in your workplace?

I find this an interesting topic and something leaders of all organisations should look into and make it possible in the workplace. 

Google has apparently spent two years studying 180 teams and the most successful ones shared these five traits: dependability, structure and clarity, meaning, impact and psychological safety. 

I found this TedTalk that I think it a very good introduction to the topic. 

Psychological safety is defined as a belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes. 

The speaker Amy Edmondson highlights that nobody wants to come to work to look ignorant, incompetent, intrusive or negative. 

And when you don't want to look ignorant, don't ask questions; don't want to look incompetent, don't admit weakness or mistakes; don't want to look intrusive, don't offer ideas; and don't want to look negative, don't critique the status quo. 

I remember the first day I turned up for work in a consultant firm. Being new, I had a lot of questions. I remembered this so clearly in my mind - I asked a question. I am not sure if I was given an answer but the look on the person's face was one of contempt. 

And from that moment on, I clamped up. I never spoke or ask anything without first thinking or checking first - thank God for the Internet and Google. 

The sad thing is in doing so, we rob ourselves and the people around us precious moments of learning. 

Psychological safety may not readily be a culture in your organization, but I feel that it should at least start with us, with the teams we are leading and working in. 

Make it safe. 


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