Countless businesses spend millions of dollars annually to ensure the physical safety of their employees.
They spend little time, however, thinking about the psychological safety of their employees.
Despite words to the contrary in mission statements and employee handbooks, we are conditioned to accept workplace behavior that includes angry outbursts, bullying, playing favorites, threats of job loss, etc. — all of which can compromise an employee’s psychological safety.
When we experience a threat to psychological safety, our brain is triggered into a stress response. It’s fight or flight and, sometimes, freeze or appease. The part of our brain that is responsible for thinking, creativity and decision-making (our cognitive abilities) goes off-line. The goal is survival. And ‘just surviving’ can’t be sustained in a work environment that requires high performance, collaboration, and flexibility.
In 2015, Google released the findings of some compelling research known as ‘The Aristotle Project’. In its quest to build the perfect team, Google assessed the factors common to their high-performing teams. They were shocked to find it was not the background, the experience or the education of the team members that determined a team’s success, but whether psychological safety was present within the team.
In a psychologically safe climate, team members are not afraid to express themselves; they feel accepted and respected. This openness creates a fertile environment for thinking, creativity, innovation, and growth, and leads to more collaborative relationships and an overall improvement in team productivity.
Psychological safety is a sense of confidence that the team will not embarrass, reject or punish someone for speaking up. It describes a team climate characterized by interpersonal trust and mutual respect in which people are comfortable being themselves.
So…… how would you assess your team around psychological safety?
• Is there an environment of trust and mutual respect where differing points of view can be shared and vetted?
• Do team members have your back…….. and vice versa?
• Does everyone contribute meaningfully to team goals OR is there a team critic, the perennial pleaser, etc.?
• Can someone speak up without fear of embarrassment or worry about the debrief that goes back to the boss?
What’s your team’s story?
Every Brain Needs a Coach.
Are You In?