You can stop reading if your team is flawless. This article is not appropriate for you if you and your coworkers feel safe sharing ideas, respect each other, and collaborate well even when things go wrong. This may seem like a distant utopia, but if you aren’t comfortable with the way people interact around you and you realize that things don’t always go as planned, then continue reading. This could be because of a lack of ‘psychological safety, according to Amy Edmondson.
Psychological safety refers to creating a safe environment for interpersonal risk-taking. It is where people feel free to express themselves without fear and can experiment, learn, and grow. Although it doesn’t happen instantly, a team can work towards this type of environment from the start. This is possible for an older team as well.
It is easy to see how team members are willing to share their ideas, suggestions, and criticisms. This is crucial to team performance. Without innovation and growth, there will be no standards and no accountability. It will also lead to less co-operation when people who aren’t trustworthy are less willing or scared to experiment because they fear the consequences. The last danger is that people won’t share their true thoughts with the team when things go wrong. Even in the best organizations, this can lead to a lack of trust and a decrease in productivity.
Although psychological safety is not a panacea for all problems in your team, it can help you avoid some of the dangers mentioned above. It’s not always easy to implement, but it is something team leaders need to foster; create the right conditions for it thrives. You don’t have to be responsible for the actions of others, but I have been thinking about this summer and wondering if it is possible to place all responsibility for creating a positive culture in your organization.
What leaders can do
Being approachable and friendly, being open to hearing the opinions of your team members, rather than focusing on what you think is important, is critical. Recognize their contributions and don’t dismiss them. Your accessibility and acknowledgment of others are based on their perceptions. It is essential to show your team members that you value and listen to them. Instead of listening only when you speak, encourage workers to contribute. They will respond to you if they realize that you care about them and are willing to listen. It might seem slow to start for a team that is not used to this type of leadership. Keep going. Don’t be afraid to speak up, and you will reap the benefits of the unexpected and unwelcome.
If you don’t know something, admit it. Do not try to convince people with false answers or blustering. You don’t have to know everything, and it doesn’t make you any less human to be humble enough to acknowledge your limitations. If you feel it is necessary, be open to learning and willing to learn more. You can continually improve. Develop a growth mindset. Accept mistakes and failures as a learning opportunity. People will not accept you if your pants are too long and your shirt is too short. This is good behavior to model for your team. You don’t need other people covering up your mistakes, as it takes away some of the team’s learning experiences. Encourage people to realize that they can be themselves with all their quirks and imperfections.
Be careful with the f-word. Failure is not an end in itself. It’s a deviation from the intended outcome. Accept what happened and let go of the guilt and responsibility. It may take some time to change culture, but it is worth it. Accepting what happened can help people learn from it. People will be more willing to explore the root causes of failure if you frame it in a way that makes them see it as a sign of growth and progress. It will still hurt, for them as well as you.
Hold people responsible, however. You shouldn’t let people become so tolerant of failure and allow standards to fall. But hold people accountable in a fair and consistent manner. They will be less worried about being wrong if they realize that failure is a learning opportunity. It is also helpful to know what is acceptable and unacceptable before the event. Unexpected events can only make someone’s mistakes worse.
Use clear communication throughout all of this. It doesn’t mean to be gentle. To ensure clarity and understanding, be direct when necessary. Confusion breeds confusion, which is what we want to avoid.
What a member of a team can do
It doesn’t matter if you aren’t a leader. I was a member of a team where the leader did not actively promote a culture of psychological safety. It was up to the group members to make their own decisions. It was effective at one level but not as a replacement for a leader-modeled approach. It is not revolutionary, but it does reflect what good leadership looks like. It is still about treating others with respect and trust, even if they have not earned it.
We can help people feel welcomed when they join our team. You may have long-standing friendships, but you must open the doors to others. To encourage participation, you need to invite it and show your appreciation. Even though the idea may have been offered before, celebrate the new initiative and their willingness to try it even if you know it won’t work. Negating or ignoring suggestions is a sure way of turning off the tap. Be open to learning from your mistakes and be humble. We can model these behaviors and help create a culture where learning is possible.
Everyone wants to feel at ease in a group, so we can communicate our thoughts, understand each other, and work better together. While we all want to succeed, it is better for us to learn and grow from failure. To do this, we must all work together to make work psychologically safe.