Psychological safety exists when you know you will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up or expressing an idea or concern. It is a shared belief among team members that they can take risks and be vulnerable with one another without fear of shame or embarrassment. Teams with high levels of psychological safety are more likely to share information, collaborate effectively, and make better decisions. They're better at creating and innovating, too. Psychological safety is extremely important for team success.
Note that psychological safety does not mean agreement or harmony since it is possible for team members to disagree and still feel safe to express their thoughts and feelings. And challenges to status quo and popular opinion is equally rewarded.
There are several strategies that leaders and team members can use to reward vulnerability and foster psychological safety in their teams:
Encourage team members to speak up and freely express their ideas. Make sure that everyone's voice is heard while promoting constructive and respectful conversation.
Be vulnerable: share your own experiences and stories to serve as an example for others and inspire them to be vulnerable as well.
Establish a culture of trust by being open and dependable, rewarding hard work, and cultivating a sense of camaraderie among team members.
Respect diversity and inclusion: Ensure that every team member—regardless of their background, experiences, or viewpoints—feels valued and respected.
Be responsive to feedback: Encourage team members to provide and receive feedback, and ensure that it is done so constructively and in a way that can be used to make decisions.
Create roles and responsibilities that are clear so that team members can feel more at ease in their positions and comprehend how their work supports the team's objectives.
Encourage experimentation and learning: This fosters an environment where failure and learning are valued and provides a secure setting in which to test out novel concepts and strategies.
Encourage team members to support one another: This fosters a sense of community and shared responsibility. Team members should be encouraged to offer support, assistance, and feedback to one another.
It's important to note that fostering psychological safety is an ongoing process and not a one-time event. It takes time, effort, and consistent reinforcement of the right behaviors and values to establish a culture of psychological safety within a team.
In my next post, I'll define the four stages of psychological safety framework you can use to assess your teams.