Imagine a senior advisor is sitting in a meeting about an upcoming major project. He notices the person leading the project may have missed a pivotal point. The senior advisor recalls the last time he provided feedback and how he was made to look incompetent, so he says nothing and lets the moment go by.
How common is this scenario in our working world? And why does this happen?
American psychologist Amy Edmondson has dedicated a large part of her career to researching “psychological safety” at work, which she defines as “a shared belief held by members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk taking”.
Psychological safety means creating a workplace culture where people are comfortable being and expressing themselves, and team members are willing to ask questions and share ideas. They are not afraid to make mistakes and don’t expect to be embarrassed, ridiculed or penalised for trying new things. Psychological safety is essential for any work environment, particularly where there’s uncertainty or tasks that require interdependence.
High psychological safety is not about team members having to be best buddies nor is it about not experiencing conflict within a team. In fact, research shows that high psychological safety in a team has the ability to shift how conflict is managed by its members to improve team performance. Research undertaken at Google revealed that psychological safety was the number one factor that differentiated high performing teams from average teams. Organisations where there is a strong climate of high psychological safety have been shown to be more creative, innovative and profitable.
At Umbrella, we are particularly interested in the “how” of psychological safety. What are the specific frameworks, leadership behaviours and day-to-day actions that strengthen safety and enable integration of psychological safety into everyday work? We are very pleased to be offering this new workshop – how about you and your team come and road-test it for us?