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Psychological Safety: The Key to Great Teamwork

According to a recent Google study, most high performing teams have one thing in common: Psychological Safety.

Psychological safety is being able to speak up or ask questions without thinking you will make a mistake or feel ridiculed. When your team members have psychological safety, they will take bigger risks, come forward with more ideas, speak their mind, be more creative, and act out of comfort instead of fear.

Try these strategies to create a safe culture for your team members where they feel challenged and not threatened:

Be Human - Remind yourself when having a conversation that the other person has vulnerabilities, opinions, perceptions, wants, desires, just like you do. Recognizing those deeper needs adds trust and promotes positive language and behaviors.

Be Curious - Instead of going straight to blame, try becoming curious about why your team member acted in the way that she did. Present the behaviors you noticed and ask questions. Don’t assume you know what the other person is thinking and adopt a learning mindset.

Ask for Feedback - After you have a conversation with a team member, ask them how they felt when you delivered the message. That way, if it didn’t come off like you had hoped, you can adjust for next time. And the team member will feel empowered that you asked for his opinion.

Lead by Example - Always acknowledge when you make a mistake, so that others will know that it is okay not to be perfect. Be open about feedback, giving and receiving, and make sure to make an effort to take on opinions different from your own.

Create a Safe Environment - Don’t allow people to be interrupted, encourage off the wall suggestions, and make sure your team knows all ideas will be equally accepted and not judged.


Have a few more minutes?

Check out this TedTalk to learn more about psychological safety from Amy Edmondson, the Novartis Professor of Leadership at Harvard Business School.

Or listen to this How to Be Awesome at Your Job podcast, How to Not Suck at Managing with Aaron Levy.

Ready to look into leadership training to tackle this issue? Email or call 303-809-8093.

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