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7 Ways to Boost Psychological Safety on Your Team

In last week’s blog post, we talked about psychological safety and how it is critical to the success of a team. In teams with high psychological safety, members feel that it’s okay to make mistakes and be imperfect - and this leads to deeper, more cooperative relationships and elevated teamwork.

Below are 7 ways that leaders can boost psychological safety on their teams:

1. Make it a priority – Explain what psychological safety is and explicitly state that it’s something that you would like to work towards as a team. When everyone is on the same page about what kind of culture you’re striving for, you can work together to create that environment. You should also discuss how you plan to measure psychological safety within your team so that people know how you’ll define success.

2. Model it as the leader – Psychological safety requires stepping out in vulnerability. Go first and then recognize team members who are willing to do the same. It will spread!

3. Facilitate everyone speaking up - Show genuine curiosity and be open-minded, compassionate, and willing to listen when someone is brave enough to say something challenging the status quo. Facilitate meetings to ensure that everyone has some airtime – not just the vocal members.

4. Help employees understand and appreciate the strengths and differences of others – When employees better understand how others approach life and work, it expands their empathy for others. The Working Genius is a phenomenal tool for helping individuals understand the gifts, preferences, and frustrations of other team members. It can result in enhanced working relationships and productivity – and elevate feelings of safety within the team.

5. Ask for feedback – As a leader, one of the most important things you can do to create a respectful work environment is to welcome feedback from your team members. Asking for feedback makes it known that you are willing to accept your own mistakes and work on yourself as a leader.

6. Ask the team the following questions and develop a plan of action based on responses

· What can we count on each other for?

· What is our team’s purpose?

· What is the reputation we aspire to have?

· What do we need to do differently to achieve that reputation and fulfill our purpose?

7. Establish norms for handling failure or mistakes - Encourage learning from failure and disappointment, and openly share how you personally have done this.

Remote and hybrid work creates more challenges for creating psychological safety but actually can create unique opportunities to forge connections and increase psychological safety if done right. You can do the things we have covered already with a few additions:

  • In on-camera virtual meetings, use active listening techniques and try to absorb the words of others as well as their emotions and values.

  • Some people may feel even more comfortable typing vulnerable statements through a screen (i.e., meeting chat) so virtual meetings may even increase engagement for some team members.

  • Show respect and appreciation for those courageous enough to share their honest thoughts in the same way you would in person.

  • Utilize polls and the hand-raise buttons to help create engagement.

  • If a team member says something but then gets cut off by a frozen screen, or talked over by someone else, make sure that the group returns to them.

  • Create intentional virtual opportunities for employees to connect, share and get to know each other better as people, not just as coworkers.

In conclusion, psychological safety is a must-have for a successful team - and a successful organization. Consider these tips to elevate your team today!

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