Cultivating a Psychologically Safe Workplace
Google’s Project Aristotle launched with a singular goal — to discover the elements that make a perfect team. The project was thorough, studying teams ranging in size from three to 50, across geographies and business units, with varying levels of seniority. The research concluded that there is one essential defining characteristic among high performance teams: Psychological safety.
Psychological safety refers to an individual’s perception of the consequences of taking an interpersonal risk — for example, daring to contradict a louder or more senior teammate. Teams with high psychological safety demonstrate a group culture that makes it safe to take risks. On high-productivity teams, no one embarrasses or punishes teammates for admitting a mistake, asking a question, or offering a new idea.
A psychologically safe environment means empowering your team to speak, act and think freely without fear of consequence or judgment. It creates a space where mistakes are opportunities to learn and grow — where employees and leaders feel safe openly sharing their ideas.
When I think about leaders who cultivate psychological safety, I think about one executive in my network. At the start of every meeting, he typically won’t say much. He’ll ask many questions, but, ultimately, he will wait to share his thoughts.
His reason? He doesn’t want to influence people’s original ideas. This executive wants to hear all sides of an argument and see other perspectives. He makes space for everyone to contribute and be heard.
It is an effective strategy and a sign of true leadership. He is making his team feel safe while encouraging them to share their authentic point of view. Employees want to feel safe and communicate openly with each other and their leaders.
According to a Gallup study, when a workplace is psychologically safe, it increases productivity by 12%. A safe workplace also:
- Encourages your team to take intelligent risks.
- Become more inclined to share their point of view.
- Decreases the possibility of people quitting and leaving to go somewhere else because they don’t feel safe.
This week, I want you to focus on answering two questions: Is your work environment psychologically safe? How are you communicating and demonstrating that mistakes are tolerated and treated as learning opportunities while encouraging open communication?
About Ryan Estis
Ryan Estis has more than 20 years of experience as a top-performing sales professional and leader. As the former chief strategy officer for the McCann Worldgroup advertising agency NAS, he brings a fresh perspective to business events. As a keynote speaker, Ryan is known for his innovative ideas on leading change, improving sales effectiveness and preparing for the future of work. He was recently recognized as one of “the best keynote speakers ever heard” by Meetings & Conventions magazine alongside Tony Robbins, Bill Gates, Colin Powell and Mike Ditka.
Derek Sweeney is the Director of Speaker Ideas at The Sweeney Agency www.thesweeneyagency.com. For 15 years Derek has been helping clients find the right Speakers for their events. Derek can be reached at 1-866-727-7555 or [email protected]